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The Washingtonian Service

The Washingtonian Service is a colosseum, a collision and a suite of celestial objects that meet up in D.C.  The colosseum appears as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and is emblematic of a golden age in a salient city. The real MLK Library, soon to be re-incarnated and re-inhabited at the time this work was made, was a city’s search for modern identity in architectural form. Admired by an elite but perhaps unloved by many, Mies van der Rohe’s library is itself a story-line in Washington.


The Mies’ MLK library is in the form of a porcelain centrepiece. My rendition of this icon as a porcelain model is both a fascination with miniatures and a flirtation with great centerpieces such as Napoleon’s commissioned 'Egyptian Service'. Napoleon's expensive exploit ended in failure, though not without a remarkable representation as the centrepiece and table settings of the Egyptian Service made by the great Sèvres Manufactory.


If Napoleon used a porcelain centrepiece to glorify his expeditionary force in Egypt, The Washingtonian Service instead hosts both science fiction and artistic exile.


The real MLK Library was a city’s search for modern identity in architectural form. Admired by an elite but unloved by many, Mies van der Rohe’s library is a story-line in the modernizing of Washington.


A meteor has collided with the Mies' library and to be found under the terra cotta table.


Other characters who are represented in the installation are Musa McKim (immediately above), as well as an American astronaut and a ballerina. Any of them could have been involved in the chance collision with a contested landmark (then are hosted on their own terra cotta tables in the exhibition.


The Washingtonian Service offers a forecast of a cosmic problem - and perhaps an existential one too.


Below are photographs and video stills of 'meteor drops'.  These drops create the craters and holes in the extruded table and cushions, and simulate the worlds in collision as noted above.  This meteor drops link brings the collisions and impact cratering to life.

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The Washingtonian Service



CNC milled porcelain, hand built stoneware, extruded terra cotta, lead glazes, wood, powder-coated metal, video


Installation dimensions

20’ l x 18’ w x 6’ h

6 m l x 5 m w x 2 m h   

extruded table  6’ L x 42’ W x 45’ H

© 2022 by Neil Forrest

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one-person exhibition at IA&A at Hillyer Washington, D.C.

January - February 2020

fabrication development by Fenn Martin. Assistance by Luisa Grottker and Charles Freeman.

video of meteor drops by Marie McInnis

photography by Neil Forrest

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