Round platter with map of the United States
Designed by Rockwell Kent American
Designer Gale Turnbull American
Manufacturer Vernon Kilns
The modernist artist was among those involved in promoting a nationalistic spirit, stemming in part from his efforts against the spread of fascism in Europe. His concern with promoting American ideals extended to designs he provided in the late 1930s for three different sets of dinnerware, all produced by the California pottery of Vernon Kiln. For Kent and others, this was also another way of democratizing his art. Many artists were gravitating to printmaking, as a way of making their art more accessible to the public, especially middle- class consumers. While the designs for his other two services were based on his book illustrations, those he executed for Our America were created afresh. His stark wood-cuts were adapted to transfers on china, to be printed in three monochrome hues—blue, mahogany, and brown. The service depicts American scenes ranging geographically from the metropolis of Manhattan to the Great Lakes to the Florida everglades to the West Coast. A number of the scenes represent laborers at work, championing Kent’s nationalistic beliefs in the America of the common man, the workers who made this country. Kent's reverence for the diversity of the American landscape and for "the working man" shines through the decoration. The star-spangled borders are wholly consistent with the patriotic theme.