A People’s Dinnerware

Justin Rothshank
“A People’s Dinnerware”
earthenware, glaze, ceramic decals
various dimensions

This is an exhibition of dinnerware featuring portraits of 90 Americans. The evolution of this dinnerware set began in 2006 when I began reading Robert Caro’s monumental 4 volume book series on the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president. In the years since then I’ve read innumerable books about presidential history, biographies about unelected leaders, and children’s books highlighting accomplishments of US leaders from the past 250 years. Most recently, the book Schomburg by Carole Boston Weatherford has been incredibly inspiring in continuing the research for this project.

A People’s Dinnerware | Select Works on View | The Dining Room of the Wickham House at the Valentine Museum | Richmond, VA

Of the 90 American figures featured in the dinnerware set, 16 are currently displayed in Richmond, Virginia as part of Ferrin Contemporary’s exhibition, Our America/Whose America? (on view February 20, 2024 through April 21, 2024). This group includes:

Installation of The People’s Dinnerware in the Dining Room of The Wickham House



b. 1978 in Washington D.C.
lives and works in Goshen, IN

Justin Rothshank has been working as a studio ceramic artist in Goshen, Indiana since 2009. In 2001 he co-founded the Union Project, a nonprofit organization located in Pittsburgh, PA.

Justin’s ceramic work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally, including articles in Ceramics Monthly, American Craft, Studio Potter, The Log Book, and Neue Keramik. He has been a presenter, panelist, visiting artist, and artist-in-residence at numerous universities, schools, conferences, and art centers throughout the United States and abroad. His functional and decorative ceramic ware is available for purchase in more than two dozen galleries and gift shops around the country.

Justin was presented with a 2017 Individual Advancement Grant from the Indiana State Arts Council, and Award of Excellence by the American Craft Council in February 2009. In 2007 he was recognized by Ceramics Monthly Magazine as an Emerging Artist. He has also been awarded an Alcoa Foundation Leadership Grant for Arts Managers, a 2007 Work of Art Award from Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the 2005 Decade of Servant Leadership Award from Goshen College, and was named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2005.


We recognize that the land we have been living on for the past 10 years is the ancestral home of the Potawatomi Nation. The Potawatomi people were stewards of this land for many generations leading up to an unjust treaty in 1828 when the land was taken by the United States Government and the Potawatomi were forcefully removed and relocated.

We recognize that we have grown up with privileges that many members of our local and global community do not enjoy. We’re working to change systems, both macro and micro, to make life more equitable for all. Being an ally is a lifelong pursuit for us. We’ve failed often, and likely will again. We’re open to criticism. We feel strongly that being artists, culture makers, and people of faith means risk taking and failure.

We are donating what we can and making sure our voices are heard through our votes and through the businesses we support. We are trying to learn more, reading books together as a family by Black Authors about Black history and experiences. We’re creating artworks to honor a more complete history of our country in an effort to educate ourselves and the communities that engage with our work.

We are working to build collaborative networks of artists from different backgrounds. We believe that collaboration is a vulnerable experience. There is of course the possibility of rejection or disappointment. Despite this risk, there has never been a more relevant time to reach out to the stranger in our lives and seek collaboration among ourselves. Vulnerability in this way opens us up to learning and building new relationships.

As part of our commitment to the Mennonite faith we tithe 10% of all our income, which we earn by selling our artwork. We are conscientious objectors to war and work actively to promote nonviolent means of reconciliation. In tithing our money we support racial justice, craft based education, Immigrant Justice, environmental preservation, fair housing standards and other means of creating a more equitable and peaceful society. We are committed to lead through example and action.


Ferrin Contemporary presents Paul Scott in "Our America/Whose America?". Installation for NCECA Richmond, 2024 at the Wickham House at The Valentine Museum, Richmond, VA. Image courtesy of The Valentine Museum.

Ferrin Contemporary presents Paul Scott in “Our America/Whose America?”. Installation for NCECA Richmond, 2024 at the Wickham House at The Valentine Museum, Richmond, VA. Image courtesy of The Valentine Museum.


2024 | Group Exhibition in the Wickham House at the Valentine Museum | Richmond, VA

February 20, 2024 – April 21, 2024

Our America/Whose America? Is a “call and response” exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects.

View the exhibition page HERE

Justin Rothshank, “Presidential Table” detail 2016.

KNOW JUSTICE | Justin and Brooke Rothshank

2016 | Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

September 10-November 12, 2016

KNOW JUSTICE presents a two-person show by Justin and Brooke Rothshank focusing on American politics, the Supreme Court, and presidential history. Brooke’s miniature watercolor portraits are complemented by Justin’s decal-printed tableware.

View the exhibition page HERE


Additional works may be available to acquire, but not listed here.

If interested in lists of all works and series: Send us a message