What does it say about the message we’ve been getting out when some people still first think of that scene from the movie Ghost when they think of pottery? The fact that our most iconic cultural significance is a scene of Patrick Swayze draped over Demi Moore can only be disappointing if you think about it. It hardly does justice to the career artists who have worked so hard to give life to their creative visions. No wonder most of the public doesn’t take us seriously as artists. They may just be wondering why we don’t look more like Demi….
And why is that? I’m not saying that no one else gets what potters do. I’m just highlighting that the majority don’t see us as anything like what we see ourselves. And that’s perhaps why hardworking artists like Ron continue to get asked to make another potter’s work. Did they somehow get the wrong impression of us? Would we rather be making our own work? Would we rather be thought of as something more than a slightly rumpled, clay splattered, and perhaps unshaven stand-in for Demi Moore?
And as Cara pointed out in a comment on my last post, there isn’t just one way we see ourselves either. In fact, it seems that for the most part we are off on our own, doing our own thing, and barely have more than a generalized connection to what other potters are doing. In other words, we seriously lack a sense of real community. The yearly clay conferences, the odd workshop here or there, the occasional shared venue of a crafts fair, piling slabs into a firebox on your 8 hour shift, etc, don’t always do enough to put us on the same page in how we confront the public. We share so many interests and circumstances. We just don’t often talk about it that way….
So no wonder we don’t have much of a message for the public. We either end up only talking about ourselves or as if (by omission) we were somehow the only ones doing this ‘pottery’ thing. Often we don’t even talk as if there were a potting community with similar interests and similar goals. Just how much do we talk to the public about our brother and sister potters? Just how frequently do we talk about what it is that potters do, and not just what we ourselves do? When we talk to the public we almost always talk as if no other potters exist. And that goes for me as much as anyone else.
Is it any wonder the best known example of someone working clay on a wheel is Demi Moore (followed closely by Patrick Swayze)?