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“Every bowl recreates the act of cupping one’s hands, in greeting or in gratitude,” says Raymond Rorke C’79, who crafts his otherworldly vessels at Penn Design’s ceramics department, where he is a part-time studio technician. “It is how we offer food. It is how we accept alms. It is how we hold clay.”

In a sense, the raw, elemental texture of the bowl above captures the “elusive moment of transformation” from idea to object, explains Rorke, who began exploring the medium some 35 years ago while working at the Penn Museum, surrounded by ancient pottery.

For more images of clay, see “Feats of Clay.” —S.H.

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