For me the past couple of years have been an exploration of new artistic avenues. I wasn’t particularly stuck (once I figured out I still wanted to work with clay, that is,) I just had no compelling path forward. So while waiting for that path to appear, I goofed around, tweaking old works and testing all new inklings, until I found myself curious again. Sometimes that re-working involved happy breakage. Here I explore a few rationales for both the rambling and the rupturing.
Each December I take a moment to reflect on the past year and try to peer into the next. It’s an agenda-less non-ritual with a few symbolic visuals, good smells, candles, flowers, and cowbells. This year I carried objects of continuing fascination to my (slab-roller) altar. I also brought my lists: 2016’s Successes and Suckages and 2017’s Future Games. This writing is intended to be my last post for this year, so I will dwell on 2016’s Gumbo of the Sublime and see you back here bright and early in 2017 to discuss what else I can see on the creative horizon and how you and I can meet there.
One great thing about a National Ceramics Exhibit in the neighborhood is there are bound to be several invitees who one might know personally. Or even have studied with. The Rare Earth Exhibit at Cabrillo Gallery is about half way through its run and, since I walk by it twice a week going to my Beastly Beauty Philosophy class, I usually pop in for another gander. To see what I didn’t see. To notice what I didn’t notice. To appreciate not only the anointed company my work is keeping in general, but to acknowledge my connections to the meaningful work of five women I have either studied with and/or feel a tribal closeness to. I am sharing photos of a portion of their work on display and thanking them for the ways they have touched me.
I popped into the newly opened “Rare Earth: National Ceramics Exhibition” currently open in the Cabrillo Gallery in Aptos today. And I got wowed! Without a lot of interpretive yak, I thought to simply share with you a smidge what I saw that was new and exciting. And I do mean smidge as there are another few visits-worth needed in order to let the great range of work percolate through.
…What Would Your Purpose Be? Here’s the header of the Santa Cruz Good Times Local Talk column that caught my eye ten years ago, tickled my imagination and never really left.
It is the direct inspirational source for my work of art, “Local Talkers 2009: One Face Jug a Week….” that I have blogged about a lot over the past year, including showing you all the finished version in last week’s post. (Since then I learned that the piece has been accepted into the Cabrillo Gallery Exhibition entitled CAL IF OR NIA, an all media juried exhibition open to all California artists and curated by the Owner and the Director of San Francisco’s venerable Braunstein/Quay Gallery, Ruth Braunstein and Shannon Trimble, respectively. It opens August 30 and runs through September 24, with the Opening Reception September 12 from 3-5PM on the campus of Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. I am SO proud, please come see!)
But that’s not what I came to talk about today. It was more about that question about being a vessel: a containing conveyance, carrier or conduit. That’s what never left my mind and why I saved this column. I was astonished at the responses’ variety: a ship, a blood vessel, a food bowl for the hungry, even a metaphoric container for religious views.
It never occurred to me to be anything BUT a ceramic vessel, probably a pitcher! It is just my ceramic artist’s personal frame of reference to the word “vessel” which completely illustrates “the law of the instrument”, that we tend to overuse the familiar tool, as in “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (An old saying attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Maslow, and many others.) I like, too, the French concept of deformation professionelle which really nails it (pun intended…) “looking at things from the point of view of one’s profession.” C’est moi!
So this column expanded my thinking both by jolting me in the first moment I read it and then by seeping in deeply over the years as it has hung in my studio. It has become a vessel of its own, conveying me to expanded art horizons, both conceptually and actually, and I am forever a pitcher of sweetened gratitude because of it.