In her Studio Journal posts, Liz likes to explore her creative process, from philosophical theories to nitty-gritty shop talk. The stories and photos recount her joys, challenges and creative evolution for her collectors and community. You are invited to poke around in the back pages, as there are some priceless musings, moments and tips there too. Thanks for reading!
I’ve been cocooning myself in the studio for a couple of years now. Gestating, trying all sorts of new/old/new again approaches, bringing them along to the fullest expression and then, having learned all I was interested in learning, dropping them cold. Sometimes that’s called iterating, sometimes it’s called a major dry spell, spinning one’s wheels, procrasta-productivity, even – oh no! – an artist’s block (which I actually don’t believe in.) I never felt stuck in this creative walkabout. Impatient to get on with it, yes, but never stuck. Breathe in, breathe out. Anyhoo, since last summer I have been testing and forging ahead with the myriad of ways to combine clay with fiber arts, specifically knitting/crocheting. Once I entered the formidable front door, it proved to be a mansion of many rooms and I’d like to take the rest of this post to share annotated photos from my visits to a few of them.
Ihave a skittish relationship with naming my creator-self. Saying I’m an Artist, Artisan, Craftsperson, Ceramicist, or even just the tony nom-du-jour of Maker, bothers me sufficiently that shortly after I adopt one I find it uncomfortably limiting, if not damaging. While each may work as a signifier in the moment, they speedily run smack into the twin problems of demarcations and assumptions which divert, subvert, and pervert. The root problem I have with labels is sort of a chicken/egg connotative conundrum. Does the Maker’s making (as a pure process) inform the Made’s meaning? Or…does the Made Thing (a physical product) make the Maker something (as a byproduct of the product?) Humor me while I iron this out.
Many exhibits I participate in involve largish groups of artists and a wide range of media. My heart is with the curators, gallerists, display mavens and workerbees who handle and metaphorically rub the aesthetic tummies of often quite disparate pieces in order to create a cohesive, even inspired, presentation of them all. There are challenges galore to that effort every single time and I aim to ease their task in any small way I can with pictorial love notes.
Exactly what happens in a cocoon, that organic black box of metamorphosis? The caterpillar attaches, spins a blanket, and proceeds to digest itself, keeping only a few “imaginal discs” to generate the adult body parts it will need, and using the rest of the resultant goo for food. In the months since I have last written in this Journal, I have been in a metaphoric chrysalis, happily sipping my own “caterpillar soup” which I am only now able to take a stab at describing.
I wanted an iceberg image to illustrate this journal entry about art pricing, but I didn’t want to use stock graphics or to draw one. Everytime I considered something else, I balked. It had to be an iceberg. So, being fresh out of tickets for a North Atlantic cruise, I improvised. Turns out the head-of-iceberg-lettuce-as-stand-in-for-iceberg-metaphor works even better, as we shall see.
Are you jealous of the ocean’s generosity? Why would you refuse to give this gift to anyone? Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups. They swim the huge fluid freedom. –Rumi
The temperamental obstacles of Comparison and Envy, which I haven’t fully morphed out of my life yet, have become opportunities for a transformative practice which helps them dissolve more elegantly. Discernment and competitiveness – generally accompanied by a high dudgeon and despair – were marginally more workable in my youth, what with school and jobs and boyfriends and such. But now, at a gentler juncture, they are entirely unsuitable and, left unexamined, bring little but boring uni-directional angst. Measuring myself against others in any way has outlived its usefulness and I am now quick to notice it skulking around and invite it to dance. What arrives with the waltz, a “huge fluid freedom,” is where the juju is. So let’s talk about that instead.
By the time you read this I will be one or less days away from my only major in-person show this year: the annual ACGA Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival. There’s an unholy amount of prepping to do to ensure I represent myself well in a constrained 10′ x 10′ setting. Add to that the fact that I haven’t been able to do this show since 2015 and have both cream-of-the-crop older and brash hot-out-of-the-kiln work to share. Still, after five times, I know my drill and the Festival itself is fantastically organized, so it will all happen as it should.
After the art was finished and curated, I got curious to photo-document the maelstrom created by the show preparations. It matters that it’s done at a measured and sane pace because it’s absolutely the optimum way I support my exhibitorship in advance. The photographing, the pricing, the list-checking, the rounding-up of all the booth and display parts, the packing, the snacks and the changes of shoes all count. So, with only a few days to go as I write, here’s an annotated behind the scenes photo essay for you. Let’s start with the uncurling of the brand new but long-stored booth banners relaxing in the sun on the hot tub cover, looking like the Star Wars opening crawl — if it were done in classic Cooper Black (a typeface “for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers.”)