Why all the othering?

What does it mean to be a simple potter?  What does it mean to be a clay artist?  What does it mean to be a ceramic artist?  What does it mean to be a traditional potter in a modern world?  What is contemporary ceramics?  What does it mean to be a sculptural clay artist?

Does any of this really matter?  Why is it that we try to put everything in a box?  Or assign a label?  It is very limiting.

There is always the pressure to make a living so items are made for practical sales.  However people buy art as well as soup bowls, they buy sculptures, teapots, plaques, tiles, and everything else made from clay.  Which label leaves room for doing anything with clay?  Pure art would not concern itself with sales and yet to be an artist you must sell enough to be able to have the time to make art again and again.  So at some level something must sell whether it is a pot or a sculpture or a tile for someone’s shower.  The purity can be in the making, then the practical can be in the selling.

There is the making stage.

There is the selling it stage.

Two distinct activities…  oops there it is again.  Separating into 2 boxes of activity.  Why is everything so compartmentalized?  I think in the west we are trained this way as we live our lives here.  We are influenced by what we hear.  “Don’t mix business and pleasure” We are brainwashed by big media to zone out in front of a tv and watch a depiction of other people living their lives, to get caught up in it so we follow it, talk about it with our coworkers as if it is important and these are real people, we program our devices to capture the next episode because we just cannot miss it.  Sure it is the story telling of our times, but we could be living our own life instead of watching others live theirs.  It’s 2 dimensional. flat, false, made up, contrived, and spoon fed to us so that we disconnect with ourselves, our emotions, our physical body, our being is split and separated, we become a group of boxes, we fit ourselves into what boxes are offered as acceptable.  We are forced to choose time and again what box we go into.

Even when we sign up for a Facebook page it asks are you an artist, company, product, etc.  and then when you pick we are asked to pick another box to stuff ourselves into and the categories don’t include one that is accurate or real so we compromise and pick something that is close.  But it isn’t.  Same with signing up for Paypal as a merchant to sell handmade pots.  There is no category for selling art, only art supplies.  There is no category for selling handmade anything.

Look at our history and find all sorts of “othering” in the form of classicism, racism, sexism, exclusivity, etc. We are in a constant state of war somewhere in the world with some country or group we deem as other.  Us against them, they are the others, we are not the others, those people over there who are somehow different for some reason are the ones we call other.  We are brought up to believe in competition.  Teamwork and collaboration are encouraged so long as we come together to defeat the other.  The criteria for othering is false and on the surface.  It is made up and handed to us.  The truth is we are all human beings, really we are all earth beings to take it a step further to include animals and we share the same planet.  I guess that is the big box we are all in…Earth.

I am human, I am potter, I am artist, I am son, husband, father.  I am friend, I am clay, water, fire.  I am breath.  I am I, You are you, and we are One.

I know!  Maybe I’ll make some boxes.  Square ones, round ones, flat ones, tall ones.  Hey, a casserole is a box.  I’ll make those.

Thanks for stopping by.


Let’s start here – Gratitude

Let me start with gratitude and a big thank you to Simon Leach.

When we moved in 2010, I was searching for info about gardening so I could create one for my little boy to play in.  I was looking up composting, soil amendments, water conservation and then landed on a video of someone making an olla.  It is an earthenware pot with a wide belly and a longish neck. You bury it in the ground with the neck sticking out, fill it with water and cap it with a stone.  Then you plant around it and since the pot is unglazed the water seeps out slowly and does not evaporate.  It’s almost 100 % efficiency.  For larger spaces you can bury as many as you like.  I was also interested in permaculture so I thought about making a spiral garden with a pattern of ollas forming a spiral. With the stones on top it would look cool to have a spiral of floating stones.

Anyway with the way YouTube works and gives you tons of related videos for each one you watch I watched another pottery video and another…  Eventually I stumbled upon Simon Leach.  I instantly connected with his straight forward style with no music or fancy editing and text etc. He just let the camera roll and did his thing. It was natural and honest.  He let me see his moments of oops as well as offered a lot of detail about how he was doing what he was doing.  Since I was up in the middle of the night anyway with my son who was 1 at the time I kept watching while holding him in my arms and rocking him back to sleep.  I watched all the videos on his channel and at that time it was 600 or so.  Then I watched them again in order.  I had not even touched clay at this point.  I was obsessed with this business of throwing on the wheel. I was being entertained and absorbing all of it in a gentle almost passive way.  It was liking priming the pump, getting ready, or fixin’ to start.

This was back at the end of the summer in 2010.  I’ve come a long way in my pottery life since then and would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all those who have supported me and helped me along the way.  Thank you Simon Leach.  Your videos are inspiring, informative, and have helped me find this new direction for my life along the path of clay.

Thanks for visiting my blog.