Home / News / “Statement Piece: Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool” opens Aug. 1 at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard

“Statement Piece: Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool” opens Aug. 1 at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard

June 1, 2016

This fall, the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center will present "Statement Piece: Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool," an exhibition that brings together two socially-engaged artists from different generations. The exhibition is curated by the ASU Art Museum’s curator of ceramics, Garth Johnson, and will be on view Aug. 1 through Nov. 21, 2015 at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard, located at 7th Street and Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.

In the 1950s, Erik Gronborg, who was born in Denmark, spent several years in a work camp for conscientious objectors before moving to the United States, where he made his mark with a series of functional pots addressing the Vietnam War. At age 83, Gronborg is still working in his studio, although he has shifted from ceramics to woodworking and maintaining an elaborate garden that he began in 1976.

Ehren Tool joined the Marine Corps in the early 1990s and served in Operation Desert Storm. Upon his return, he began to study ceramics, using functional pottery as a way to explore his evolving views about military service and the human toll inflicted by warfare. Over the past decade, Tool has given away more than 14,000 handmade cups loaded with images related to the United States military. He was recently featured in an episode of the PBS program "Craft in America" that revolved around veterans in the arts. When asked about the function of his artwork, Tool has said, “I hope that some of these cups can be starting points for conversations about unspeakable things.”

“Gronborg and Tool have been paired for this exhibition because of similarities in their work and parallels in their personal histories,” explains Johnson. “Both artists harness the power of images pressed into wet clay. Both create approachable, functional pottery with social content built in that causes the person using the artwork to contemplate their own relationship with the U.S. Military. It is also no coincidence that Gronborg and Tool both received advanced degrees from the University of California-Berkeley.”


From Sept. 9–11, artist Ehren Tool will be in the Phoenix area, creating cups and speaking to and making art with veterans groups and the general public. The ASU Art Museum is partnering with ASU’s Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement and Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which seek to help veterans and their dependents pursue their educational goals, and Wings for Warriors, a nonprofit that helps wounded veterans with healthcare and financial benefits counseling and travel expenses. Further details will be made available by late August.

A reception for the exhibition will be held Friday, Sept. 11, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. (with a members, alumni and press preview from 5:30–6:30 p.m.). Tool will spend that day making cups in the gallery space at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard. Members of the public are welcome to collaborate with Tool to create their own handmade ceramic cup.

All ASU Art Museum events are free and open to the public.

During the course of the exhibition, the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center will welcome classes and groups to meet at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard for discussions over coffee and tea served from Ehren Tool’s cups. To schedule a visit, please call the ASU Art Museum Brickyard at 480.727.8170.


This exhibition is supported by the Helme Prinzen Endowment and by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., Ron M. Werner and Scott McCoy, Dan Berman and Greg Weller, James Wallace and Julie Bergstrom, Erik Gronborg and Ehren Tool.


The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

To learn more about the museum, call 480.965.2787, or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.

Location/Parking: The museum has three locations across the metro Phoenix area: the ASU Art Museum at 10th Street and Mill Avenue, on ASU’s Tempe campus; the ASU Art Museum Brickyard at 7th Street and Mill Avenue, in downtown Tempe; and the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Designated parking is available at all three locations.

Admission: Free at all three locations.

Hours: The ASU Art Museum and ASU Art Museum Brickyard are open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space in downtown Phoenix at Combine Studios has variable public hours depending on exhibition schedules and is o

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Juno Schaser
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