Why? The Hard Part of Making.
I first wrote a draft of this about a year ago while we were in the beginnings of pandemic. Then, shortly after the fallout from Winter Storm Uri here I revisited it and turned it into a caption on Instagram. Not all of you are interested in the why of making, but it's just about all I think about. What I make is easy to share. How I make is exciting to share. Why...that's the most difficult thing to explain and honestly, at times it feels like I'm screaming it into a void that is filled with the distractions of our more modern society...That said, here's a bit of why–
When I don’t take my craft for granted, I step back and remember that the tradition of ceramics is one that connects to a long history of human beings making objects to be used by those in their community. What I make is not at all necessary in the same way it was when people first needed to store, cook, or serve food and water. When I need a little wake-up call back into this thinking, I think about a single bowl...a one thousand year old piece that I have been fortunate enough to hold.
That single object is the memory I come back to when I need reminding of the power an object can hold. It is a small, simple monochrome bowl from the Pre-Classic Mayan period. Unlike the thousands of other bowls that remain from that time period, this one has a simple embellishment. It has these faceted sides which are different from any piece I have ever held. These modest alterations are about half-way up the form, no more than one inch wide, flattened out ever so slightly and coming to a point on the exterior wall of the bowl. Every time I see this pot I wonder how and why this was done. Every time I see that bowl I think about a moment, one thousand years ago, when a person made the decision to alter this piece. That person’s decisions, action and thumbprints have survived to this day. I have never tried to make my “version” of that bowl. I have never tried to figure out the technique that was used. It has not influenced my work in the traditional sense. But, that piece is the one that pushes its way to the front of my mind when I try to find meaning for my work. That piece reminds me that the decisions we make as humans are long-lasting.
That bowl reminds me that each piece I make is part of a simple human tradition, tens of thousands of years old and that the decisions in my work will outlast me to hopefully become part of the vast tradition of my medium.
While I continue to sort out my path inside my studio, I hope that every once in a while when you use my work it can bring you somewhere other than the moment you’re in and into the community around you.