This past week I spent a lot of time playing with social media and enjoying the stimulation that it can provide (not THAT kind!) and a few things art-centric popped up that I want to share with you.
While I was driving and listening to CBC they played Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, which I adore. But what moved me even more was the story the host shared with us about of Natalia Karp. Natalia, on her first night in a concentration camp, was ordered to play for the Commandant, Amon Goeth, in honour of his birthday. Her playing so moved the monster that he declared: “Sie soll leben!” (She shall live). Brave beyond all reason she insisted that he also save her sister and he did. Later they even managed to survive Auschwitz. Natalia passed on July 9, 2007 at the age of 96. You can read more about her in this article from Always On Watch blog.
The second was a Facebook posting by Women for Women, an org. I donate to every month. It was about a Pakistan cop, Mehmood Ahmed, who has taken up the brush to draw (pun intended) attention to the rampant violence against women he sees everyday and can do so little to stop. What he sees he paints on canvases outside the police station to draw public attention to this crisis. It is also a form of therapy for him since the psychological impact of seeing these horrific scenes day after day and feeling impotent would be extreme.
These are but a couple of examples of how art can heal and save, there are so many more. Please never doubt that what it can do for individuals, it can do for nations and our world. So please support art programs in schools and in your community, the payoffs are enormous!
Do you have any stories of art making positive impacts on people and communities? Please go to the comment box and have at it, I’d love to hear about them.
It’s as if I just looked down for a minute & WAM! Two months have passed since my last posting… I have been so focused on clay, mostly working towards making some cool stuff for our annual winter sale (Nov.19th & 20th).
I also finished the latest Phoenix called Motherhood. Some pieces end up far from those first images that flash in my head and yet are exactly what they are supposed to be. Others, rarely, come out of the kiln a physical manifestation of those first visions. Motherhood is the latter. When she came out of the kiln I had to catch my breath it was so eerie, like the clay & glaze had a direct link to my mind without the usual noise & clutter, not to mention the foibles of air pressure, time & kiln moods.
Please understand that this is my concept of Motherhood and since I am without child it will be from that perspective. She has such an intense vulnerability and yet, with her heart nestled between her breasts, intensely protective and nurturing.
The concept stage of the creative process is sexy. It is an adrenalin rush that is addictive & illusive in equal parts. The pulling together of ideas & solutions needed to make that flash of an image manifest is inspiring. I am a whirling dervish in my head & am surprised that I don’t walk into a pole more often than I do. Even the laying of hands onto the clay – working out the engineering challenges to cleave with the design aesthetic is exhilarating and absorbing.
But then comes the drudgery which generally starts after the first firing. The ironing of the kinks. Some projects are worse than others but all have to be tested & challenged, especially if it is meant to be functional. A vase that won’t hold water has to either be redefined or dumpstered. With sculptural pieces they can blow up in the bisque kiln or the glaze runs so bad that it is fused to the kiln shelf in the last firing. Or it can come out of the glaze firing just wrong and no amount of “just sit with it for a while” will change the wrongness. The only solution is the dumpster and start again, all the while resolutely refusing to dwell on all the time and money that it represented. To start again with new knowledge and no bitterness, well there in lies the challenge.
Some projects take time to test and I have been known to get bored and the idea gets stalled, sometimes forever, other times months. Take for example my bird feeder. I’ve done 2 tests. One will be relegated to being stuck in the dirt as a slug bar & the other is swinging from a stand ignored by all winged creatures and the wind chimes hang quiet even during gale force winds. So I stand & glare and ponder the reasons. Is the stand in the wrong place? Do I put an ad out letting the birds know where it is? They were all hanging around the week before I put it up, where are they now? Is it the colour? Is it too shiny? Exhausted, I do nothing. To the observer I did nothing to deserve to be exhausted. Little do they know. Sometimes birds need to get used to a new thing, right? Fucking birds, they were the ones that ordered this thing, if they had design requests they should have said something. Am I right?
The other current project that is challenging my patience is a large vessel that my wonderful muse E inspired. She had wanted a large piece to put on the mantle, similar to one I made ages ago. After quite some time (as in years!) I found a suitable mould. I did one & WOW was it amazing! E loved it too.. months later she is still pondering her glaze choice and I have made 4 more. The problem is that 1/2 are coming out of the bisque kiln with their bottoms blown out! Baffled, I am stuck, especially since they are rather large & represent a fair investment of clay & time. I will figure it out & continue but, again, it will take time. *yawn*
So I guess the point ( & I hadn’t realized I was making one till just now ) is that when you pick up a piece of pottery at a studio or sale & look at the price take a moment to think about all that might have gone into creating it. If it is a wheel-thrown bowl, it may have only taken minutes for an experienced potter to make it but it in fact took years of many hours of practice to reach that level of ability. Amortize the price over 5 years and it is looking ridiculously cheap! Just know that each piece a potter makes has a lot of sweat and soul built into it.
Andrew Tarant opened his kiln to this! ARGHHHH Click on the image to read his take on it.
Any disasters you want to share? Leave a comment & we can commiserate together.
Well the dilemma today was form vs concept. Do I go with something that looks good as opposed to manifesting an idea? Since my work is mostly concept driven it is a tightrope that I often find myself on. The challenge is to find away to honour both and not get lazy and just cave to one side. Balance in all things. Yah Buddha!
Well Ms.Thang is done and I’m not comfortable calling her Torso 8 (especially since she is torso 7, apparently counting is not my strong suit)… so her name, at least thus far, is Motherhood.
I am chanting the potter’s matra “it is only mud until it comes out of the glaze kiln whole it is only mud until it comes out of the glaze kiln whole it is only mud until it comes out of the glaze kiln whole”. Buddha again, attachment = grief (my paraphrasing). sigh. But I’ve already named her… so please pray with me to what ever deity sings to you and hope my girl comes through the upcoming trials whole.
I am delighted to present the ongoing manifestations of my passion/obsession with clay. During my 10 year affair with mud, my pottery has developed into 2 directions-sculptural & sculpturally functional. It is my hope that you will enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Sometimes I blog about my creative endeavours and perspectives hoping to start a conversation about the processes that creative people go through in whatever medium they chose to do it in. I’d love some feedback and ideas and if you’d like to follow my journey I would be honoured, just click “follow me” on the right side of the page.