We first noticed Lilith Rockett’s pristine porcelain cups when she began asking us to make cappuccinos in them to take to her studio, housed directly across the street from the Belmont Cafe. These snow white cups, like all of her current work, are minimal and pristine, unglazed and polished, both delicate and dense, and looking to be touched. She invited us over for a studio visit on a rainy morning to drink coffee and talk shop.
Lilith grew up in Chicago and lived in Paris, receiving a degree in French Literature at the Sorbonne. She moved to San Francisco and learned how to live well working at health food stores, bookshops and a bath house. Her creative enthusiasms steered the ship for later moves–she studied ceramics in Oakland, moved to New Mexico to take up photography, which then led to documentary film, and she worked as a camera assistant in L.A. for 7 years. Her belief in the importance of handmade objects eventually led to opening a gallery and studio in L.A.’s Chinatown. “I think interacting intimately with handmade objects enhances our feeling of connectedness and enriches our daily life,” she says.
L.A. is also where she met her husband Elliot, a cinematographer and photographer, who currently works in Portland as the Director of Photography on the show Grimm.
Lilith and Elliot adopted their sweet daughter Opal from Datong in China’s Shanxi province in 2008, which precipitated a move from L.A. to Southeast Portland. Her cavernous studio, across from Sunnyside Elementary where Opal is in first grade, used to be an abattoir–elegant porcelain and macramé planters now hang from steel beams where cattle once did at the turn of the century.
Lilith says her deep interest in the materiality of objects led her to work with porcelain, a temperamental medium. “The more I know myself the more sense clay makes as the medium for me. It is difficult, especially porcelain, and requires hard work, focus and a deep engagement with the material. You get messy. It is always a conversation, never a command.”