Wednesday, February 15, 2012

#200 - for my Valentine.

I may be a day late, but I'd like to dedicate this, my 200th post - to my Valentine. It seems fitting. Krystal's a special gal. I made sure these were waiting for her when she got home from work last night.
Arranged them myself!
Nice vase!
I've been a bit sporadic, distracted from the pottery - I'd like to blame Krystal for some of it, if I could get away with it. In addition to the lovely Valentine's Day flowers, Saturday was also her birthday, so not much potting this weekend. See? Blame!

But blame is foolhardy. She's also the only reason I've come so far in my work, the reason I keep at it. My cheerleader, my critic, my curator. She encourages my work when I feel discouraged, and grounds me when I'm spending too much time on utter rubbish.

Lately I've been needing the extra encouragement to get down to business. No, not really talking about making pots, but taking care of "business" - pursuing avenues of turning MY pots into YOUR pots. And it hasn't been happening.

A few years ago I read Seven Days in the Art World, a book that takes a day-in-the-life sort of snapshot of seven different people/places/events of significance - the Venice Biennale, the studio of Takashi Murakami, a Christie's art auction, and so on. It was fascinating. A few years out of school, the chapter where author Sarah Thornton witnessed a marathon critique session at the California Institute of the Arts made me miss sorely the ever-so-mild and oh-so-rare critiques we had in our senior seminar - the camaraderie, the criticism, the praise, the constructive dismantling of the work. A vain comparison, my experiences vs. that described, but so deeply affecting.

There was a point, and I'm getting to it. I saved a quote from the book in a drafted blog post and never touched on it. From Paul Schimmel, chief curator of MOCA Los Angeles:

"Talent is a double-edged sword.  What you are given is not really yours.  What you work at, what you struggle for, what you have to take command of - that often makes for very good art."
-Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton, 2008

That's the kind of thought that sticks with you. Especially, I think, if you find yourself, like me, the kind of person who tends to avoid the things that don't come naturally. Not that art can't come naturally, but the stuff that comes out of struggle is often "very good good art." Getting into this work, this art form, has involved more work, more time, more energy, effort than I've had to put forth in anything else in life. Save, perhaps, married life. And likewise, both give back so much more abundantly in joy and reward.

There's so much more in that idea to be unpacked than I have the time or clarity of mind to do so now. Maybe later. Maybe when it's time to delve deeply into the clay, to reach into something that struggles, to come out the other side with art. Maybe when I've tackled some "business" - the hard work, for me - I'll discover the art in that struggle. Maybe when I get tired of my blue slips and sgraffito and decide it's time to go back to the beginning and dream it all up again.

But back to the point, that it was sort of a strange revelation, a moment of some epiphany, when I realized that part of my love of the pottery came from the struggle. That it was never completely mastered, never completely fulfilled. There was always more to learn, room to grow, room for more struggle and more success and more frustration and inevitably fantastic joys. That I had discovered something worth working at and fighting for. 

I find the two are somehow intertwined, this art and our relationship. And so I dedicate this momentous occasion, this 200th entry into the blog, to my Krystal.

(back to the regularly scheduled pottery in the near future.)

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