Ehren Tool

Ehren at work, bathed in lightARTIST STATEMENT

I just make cups.

I would like to steal my artist statement. Written in stone on the Indiana War Memorial Building is “To vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world”.  I would like my work to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world. That is a lot to ask of a cup.

After my experience in the Marine Corps, I am wary of the gap between the stated goal and the outcome. I am comfortable with the statement “I just make cups”. I’d like to trust that my work will speak for itself, now and over the next five hundred thousand to one million years.

Peace is the only adequate war memorial. All other war memorials are failures at best and are usually lies that promote the fantasy of war as glorious. I have made many failures and maybe some lies.

When I returned from the 1991 Gulf War I was surprised to see a G.I. Joe version of myself, my gas mask and my war, in stores, “for ages 6 and up”. I am compelled to make work that talks about the strange places where military and civilian cultures collude and collide.


Occupation -Museum of Contemporary Craft - 2010 Exhibit - above 800

My intention when I make and share my work is to make and share MY work. I have made and given away about 21,000 cups since 2001. I believe the cup is the appropriate scale to talk about war. The cups go into the world hand-to-hand, one story at a time.


184 of Thousands

My cups have been called my soldiers. The vessel has often been used as a symbol for a person. I make work you can drink out of and hold, in the hope that people will spend time with the work.


trio of cups

The images on the cups are often graphic and hard to look at. You may be for or against a particular war but I think it is too easy for us to look away. I think we as a country and as humans should look at what is actually going on.

I hope that some of the cups can be starting points for conversations about unspeakable things. I hope conversations flourish between veterans and the people who are close to them. I also hope that some honest conversation can happen about war and its causes.
      - Ehren Tool atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Ehren Tool was chosen by a prominent philanthropic organization, United States Artists, to be a 2010 USA Fellow. Each year, 50 of America's finest artists in a broad variety of media are granted USA fellowship awards of $50,000 each. The organization's stated mission is "to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society."
2013 group artist show - see'War and Healing Depicted in Silicon Valley Art Gallery' in The New York Times
2012 Los Angeles solo museum show - see'The Cups of War' in Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art and its Discontents;  and 'Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction' in the Craft and Folk Art Museum News Release

    Gestures of Resistance: Occupation

    2010 Ehren Tool Exhibit  (3:41)

    Held at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon; this is the oldest continuously-running craft institution on America's west coast.


    Service: Ehren Tool

    PBS Craft in America  (12:35)

    Ehren Tool was featured in an hour-long PBS documentary of veteran artists and craftsmen who make a vocation of their service-related work.