Friday, March 8, 2013

A conundrum...

as defined by Webster's is 'a confusing or difficult problem'.  I guess this is where I find myself, and where I will start this blog post.  For you see, I have just had surgery on my voice box and am left silent, at least for the short term.  The medical issues surrounding me are perplexing, and without getting into too many details (at least not just yet, maybe later in another post as I learn more and see how things unfold), suffice it to say that I am approaching my studio work differently than before.  And here is where I wish to begin...

I have always stated that artists, and for those of us that are potters, should 'touch clay every day'.  Now I realize this is hampered by many circumstances that deny our ability to complete the task of touching clay every day.  But you know what I mean, I hope, when I say this as it is meant to imply that we should be in contact with our work daily, in some capacity.  I prefer it to be in the studio of course, but sometimes it is in writing, travel, conversation, reading, teaching, etc., all of which, for me at least, helps support my claim of 'touching clay every day'.   But the real claim, in times like these, when you are consumed with a personal issue that distracts ones thoughts so much, is to find your way back to the studio, despite the distractions.  Health issues are the ones that come to mind, for where are we without our health, and especially good health.  The distractions are mind-boggling, especially when they are your own.

I like to often say that 'no one gets out of this life alive', but the reality of that is comforted when you think you will have a million tomorrows.  How is it for those who know they won't?  What do you do then, and how do you prioritize your life?   My brother Ken, a Catholic priest, tells me no one should ever think of tomorrow that way since God does not give us tomorrow, only today.  Yesterday is gone and not to be changed, tomorrow may never arrive, so living for today is the only thing one can really count on.  Sounds good, but still... Now,  don't get me wrong here, I am not planning to leave anytime soon, at least if I have anything to say about it.  But still, a health issue that sidelines you like no other can certainly give you pause for thought.  I have been medically tested over the past four moths enough to make me feel like a lab rat.  And a couple of minor surgeries later (yes, minor, at least that is what I claim them to be since I did not have to stay overnight, even though I know better) I am still hoping for something that makes me feel more confident about the many tomorrows I plan to have.  So, about this art making thing...

I have mentioned before how I find courage in those artists who can work through difficult times, be it, health, war, emotions, persecution, or any such thing that would make going into the studio a challenge.  Sure, art can be the thing we use to vent these feelings and express where we are with it all, but really, it is not all that easy. Still takes courage.  So my challenge, is to walk those steps to my studio and find my voice, that has now been temporarily made silent through speech, within the work I make with my hands.  What do I want to say in clay, and how is it different from what I might say with words?  And after all, shouldn't they really be the same voice?  If not, why is one saying one thing while the other is saying something else? Maybe the courage I am seeking is not so much to physically walk to the studio as much as it is to confront the ideas I need to say that reside in my being, yet denied out through my hands?  How to make your work your voice, when you really do not have one?  Courage...and a lot of making of things, good and bad, that come from deep within yourself.  It can be done, and hopefully within the lifetime we are given. One day at a time.

To be consistent with offering an image or two, (I guess this is something I am committed to if indeed I am posting about work-in-progress, even if now I am looking at it more as life-in-progress...hmmm, a new title?).  Here are some stacking bowls I have been working on, early in development, but fun to do.  Sort of a diversion, so let's see where they go...and another of some slip cast vessels that I see as a wall installation.  I'll need about 50 to have the idea complete.  Working to stay focused...!

1 comment:

  1. having a voice does not always mean having words or even speaking. as you mentioned in a previous post, our hands and bodies can create things from clay that we can't even put words to at first. i often find that my words are trying to catch up with my works, and as soon as i can describe what i am making, what i make changes into something else. at our best, we are visionaries, imagining new forms into existence. and at our best, we create things for which there are no words for, yet.

    i have always admired your voice, resonant and booming. but it isn't the words you say that i think of as your voice - it's the energy behind the words. the impulse to teach, to bring people together, to explore the ways people live. i wonder what will come out of your hands into clay during this time when all of that energy has to find a new way out.

    have courage. you just have blown a little fuse in there from talking too much.