Thursday, March 28, 2013

Home again...

...from the NCECA conference in Houston.  And now busy trying to get time back into the studio, but first needing to get the article I have been working on with Richard Burkett on the pottery of the Amazon off to Studio Potter magazine.  Their next issue is titled 'Indigenous', and we are contributing a piece to it.  Good timing with us just having done a presentation at NCECA titled 'Indigenous Pottery:  Does Research Preserve Tradition?'  Not sure we answered any of the pertinent questions, but the discussion was lively and sincere.

Our article, titled 'Preserving Culture:  Evolving Traditions and Outside Influences Facing the Ecuadorian Amazon' has been an interesting thing to work on the past few weeks (and part of a book we will have out very soon on the pottery of the Amazon).  I look forward to the issue Studio Potter magazine will produce as it should present many facets on the topic of the indigenous.  Having studied the potters and the pottery in the Amazon for over 20 years, I am anxious to see what they put together for this issue.  The very term 'indigenous' invokes a myriad of thoughts for me, and I cannot help but think of it in political terms knowing how poorly the indigenous of the rainforest are often treated. It's crazy how those with the most, especially in terms of money and power, treat those who can so easily be marginalized.  To me it's a fairness issue, and all about treating others as you hope to be treated yourself.  Land and mineral rights in the rainforest, along with the religious pursuits of various groups, seem to invade the lives of those who are so easily manipulated.  In the meantime, lifestyles are disrupted, traditions are left behind, and the environment suffers.  So, we continue to document the ceramic traditions in hope they are at least kept alive through writing, video and oral interviews.  So,  preserving culture?  You bet, but only on one level.

I am looking forward to getting back to work in the studio, and being away from it for a week is quite disruptive.  Feels like trying to start a car engine in winter that has been left idle for a while.  It initially grinds and grinds, and then, hopefully, turns over.  I did get back in the studio today, and found myself staring at the pieces on the shelves and under plastic, feeling like a stranger who entered a party that had been going on for a while.  I had to look at the work, reflect on the ideas that they were trying to become, and try to merge my own thoughts with what they are now.  Sort of like trying to drive onto an on-ramp on the interstate, carefully giving it gas and hoping you don't get shoved off the road as you enter!  Luckily I was only away for a's really hard when a week becomes two, and then three, and then a month or more. That merging process then is painful!

And good news from the medical front...and I feel like, at least for now until the next check-up, I dodged another bullet!  It's all so crazy sometimes, trying to live day-to-day, looking into the future with hope and excitement, yet reminding yourself today is really all you have for sure.  We all want more, but we should never trick ourselves into thinking we will live forever.  Ahhh...if only we could!  Maybe the people we love and the art we make are the only things that really will live on...?

For now though, how about more images from our work with the indigenous...and hopefully new studio work will soon follow!  (does anyone see a mucawa theme here?)

large chicha container with mucawas

Kichwa potter Rebeca Gualinga
Andoa girl