Calligraphies In Conversation: To Contain and To Serve

(photo: Lesch-Middelton and Shirinbab at work in the studio)

To Contain and To Serve: An Evening of Cuisine, Calligraphy, and Ceramics

Date :: Friday, August 30, 2019

Time :: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM; discussion and walk through begins promptly at 6:30 PM

Location :: San Francisco Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco, CA


Tickets :: Tickets to this event are mandatory.  Purchase tickets via Eventbrite.

Pre-purchase ticket price before the day of the event: $35.00 (before processing/purchase fees) via Eventbrite.

Ticket price if purchased at the door/evening of the event: $45.00.

Ticket price includes a single ceramic bowl created specifically for the evening’s event.


About this event :: Join us at this community building event which coincides with the closing reception of the exhibition Calligraphies In Conversation. View calligraphic artworks in over a dozen languages, styles, and scripts from local and international artists. Curator Arash Shirinbab and ceramicist Forest Lesch-Middelton will be on hand to discuss their artistic collaboration (known as the To Contain and To Serve project.) Attendees are invited to enjoy traditional Persian cuisine served on artisan ceramic dishware created by Lesch-Middelton and Shirinbab; at the end of the event, attendees keep the dishware which they have used for their dinner.

Please note: tickets for this event are mandatory; tickets can be purchased via this link (Eventbrite). If you do not purchase tickets in advance, you will be charged $45.00 at the door on the evening of the event.


(left: 2018 dinner attendees compare dishware)

(right: close up of a bowl used for 2018’s To Contain and To Serve dinner)

About the To Contain and To Serve project :: over the past six years, award-winning artists Forrest Lesch-Middelton and Arash Shirinbab have collaborated, utilizing ceramics and calligraphy to give voice to deep concerns regarding community, diversity, loss, resilience, and the beauty of the human spirit. By juxtaposing classic Persian-Sufi poetry with contemporary sociopolitical statements and stories curated from the social media landscape (primarily Twitter and Facebook) the two use this text upon ceramic surfaces such as tiles, bowls, and mugs.

Instead of exhibiting their ceramic vessels as untouchable objects in display cases, Lesch-Middelton and Shirinbab often perform community gathering ceremonies in which they serve traditional cultural cuisine in the vessels. When eating from the art/ceramics created, stories and words on the vessels reveal themselves, while sparking new thoughts and conversations among participants. This kind of interaction with both the artwork/ceramics and other participants adds an additional experiential level to the act of eating: food is not just for the physical body but also helps us engage with others and expand our boundaries. By participating in this ceremonial experience, attendees become part of the artwork, completing it with their presence and interactions with others.

Event sponsor ::

Image result for zellerbach family foundation logo