The Simple Power of the Cup

Earthenware artist Ayumi Horie forges magic and activism to change the way you drink coffee, one cup at a time.

We all have our daily rituals with the mug loves of our lives. Whether it is a hodge-podge assortment of found cups from thrift stores or a beloved collection inherited from your grandmother, much of the day passes between a hot cup of coffee or tea. Portland, Maine potter Ayumi Horie wants you to fall in love with your mug all over again through a process she calls “slow activism”, believing that the power of ritual and dialogue can change the world.

Photo courtesy the artist

Ayumi Horie | Photo courtesy of the artist

Horie stretches the imagination of ceramics beyond just functionality. She notes “growing up gay and half-Japanese in a very white and Catholic town in Maine, has given me a certain perspective that both straddles being an outsider and being privileged. I think I’m on the leading generational edge of how we as a country are becoming much more multi-cultural and hopefully much more accepting of difference. My work addresses vulnerability and embraces what it means to be human, regardless of race, gender, and culture.”

Her current passion is the collaborative project The Democratic Cup; a collection of thirty-two ceramic artists and illustrators coming together to inspire social change through design. Among the collaborators is Ayumi’s partner Nick Moen who also works in ceramics and pottery. The cups created are decorated with political activism imagery that hopes to encourage conversations based on mutual respect and understanding, and works to “inspire and reject the status quo”. All of the proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to progressive organizations that are actively working to end oppression and bring about gender and social equality.


Ayumi’s own work is a fusion of individual creations such as mugs, plates, jars and other various earthenwares, as well as ongoing collaborative projects such as Portland Brick. Her pottery series White Pots (video above) is focused on slowing us down by creating images of white decals onto white pot surfaces which are “invisible unless you are up close, and even then they are impossible to read unless you handle the pot. Turning the pot lets the light catch the opalescent drawing….touch and holding them is integral to understanding what they are”.

Ayumi Horie is a potter and photographer living in Portland, Maine. To learn more about Ayumi, you can find her art and wisdom in many magical corners of the internet (Twitter and Instagram).

Top image courtesy of the artist
John ArvanitisThe Simple Power of the Cup

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With a little help from Elenor Wilson of Studio Potter, we introduce you to the region’s coolest ceramics artists.