Progenitor: an ancestor, parent or someone who comes before.

Progenitor: an ancestor, parent or someone who comes before.

Transcendence: a state of being above or beyond an experience.

"Through our heritage we transcend," said Christopher Graber, the artist behind Gallery 831's newest ceramics exhibition "Progenitorial Transcendence." "It's our natural instinct to interact with one another from birth to old age. This guidance and approval that we seek from one another inspires us to be better people."

That sentiment of relying upon our relationships with one another to guide us, consciously and subconsciously, through life is at the heart of Graber's work.

The exhibition's clay sculptures, which are abstract references to the human figure, and drinking vessels that sit on top of them are organized into groups representing family, friends and fellow members of society - the people who greatly influence our personal journeys.

The drinking vessels hearken to the relationships that inspire growth and, thus, another step toward transcendence. They are everyday or celebratory items used in a shared experience (cheers-ing shot glasses with liquor from a flask) or a moment of reflection (drinking from a coffee mug each morning).

"Ceramic art is a good conduit for this message because it's a universal medium. Many people are familiar with ceramics. It's an approachable and accessible medium," Graber said. "This interaction between the pot and those using it is essential. Without the pot there is no toast, without friends there is no one to hear our stories."

Transcendence may be a very personal experience, the exhibition says, but it takes a village to facilitate its start.