Thursday, November 27, 2008
To Be or Not To Be.....That is the Question
I had a great conversation the other night with my artist friend Becky Wheeler. We talked about how she is throwing a zillion mugs for an upcoming craft fair. This made me think how much I despise making mugs. Well, not the cup form, but the attached handles. So I decided a few years ago that I would not make mugs, rather, my work would focus on soul satisfaction. Time is limited and I need to create only what I truly love to do.
As visitors to my studio keep asking me, "do you have any mugs?" I time and time again respond with the stock line "I am not a production potter."
So my question to myself is - am I even what someone would consider a potter? (Note: the title of my Blog is "The Easternmost Potter in the United States")
My major in college was ceramics, but we focused more on sculpture rather than the thrown form. I have steered away from the title of potter since I also consider myself an artist and when I think about my long term arts career, I see myself more as a gallery artist rather than toiling over making buckets of glaze, producing 100 mugs a day, having to eventually hire an apprentice so I can fill orders.
All being said, I found myself mass producing items this summer. And it wasn't because I had an order to fill, but rather, I fell in love with the new forms that I was working with. I love to make bowls. The bowl that feels perfect in the hand. The bowl that makes eating feel sacred. Then I have the mini pots...I have made thousands of them over the past twenty years. I don't feel them redundant, rather, I view them as my warm-up/centering exercise when I begin my morning at the wheel.
So I have come to think of myself, (I think!) as a potter, just this past summer. It isn't about trying to mass produce items that will sell. Instead, it is about the joy of potting as a meditation. Bowls that take me an hour and a half to create (rather than a thirty-hour sculpture) can be more financially accessible to those who want to own my work, but cannot afford the pricier "fine art pieces." I love the idea that folks all over the world this morning are sipping from one of my Yunomi cups, or eating their cereal from a spiral bowl that I made, and that their experience is all the more sacred or enjoyable because my hands were able to form that bowl or cup for them.
And who knows, maybe I will find myself making a few handles next summer....