Pott shots and stepping stones

Finally got some newer work up in the ‘gallery’ page. The older pots that have taken up that page for so long sure look ‘quaint’ to me at best. Funny how as an evolving artist one’s perception of past work also changes: What we once loved we no longer like, what we once liked now disturbs us, and what we formerly couldn’t stand has taken on new and important charms. Sometimes. To some degree. If we look back at how things were 20, even 10 years ago, most of us would find ourselves looking at a stranger.

All of which suggests that it is possible to take our current view with far more conviction and seriousness than it warrants. As artists, the ‘success’ of a piece is not written in stone, no matter how close to the mark we struck, no matter how well we aimed, no matter how securely we executed…. How we feel about things changes one day to the next. I used to hate Bruce Springsteen, now he’s maybe alright. I used to love the fantasy books of Micheal Moorcock, but now I’m actually embarrassed to dig through his prose. I still think Leonardo DiCaprio is a god awful actor, but after summoning the patience to sit through Shutter Island I think just possibly he deserves a bit of credit…..

Time isn’t frozen and all our standards set in stone. And we can’t go back in time and undo all our foolish presumptions to fit our current moods anymore than the moods we have today will not be subject to the same desire some place down the road. But that doesn’t stop us from being embarrassed by our own pasts. It doesn’t stop us from wanting to undo all the ‘bad’ things we put out in the world back when we thought we were doing the right things.

If we could take a hammer to all our older work that now displeases us would we? Would we go storming through our customer’s houses with fire and a sword, destroying the victims of our changed standards? Would we steal through the night and take back all that in our innocence we gave up to the world and that now no longer suits our interests and manifest direction?

In a sense, the present can only be free if it stands on the corpse of our rejected past. We must kill off every bad decision we made, no matter if at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable and exactly what we wanted. We disown our past, as if some other person were responsible for all those bad old decisions. We no longer want it that way now, and that’s the point. We were foolish to have put so much stock in our impressions of yore. The faith we had in that time of our innocence has been replaced with a newer, keener, truer understanding. We hope. Until, of course, the next wave of our fascination carries us over the crest of a new body of work, and the more recent things we left behind start to dull and tarnish in our sight….

Anyway, enough pot shots at the past. Here’s the present, in all is glory. Behold and be dazzled! Be transfixed by the majesty of my current vision and execution! Or not…..

DSCN3462 DSCN3444 DSCN3438 DSCN3436 DSCN3430 DSCN3434 DSCN3426 DSCN3422 DSCN3421 DSCN3461

Its all cup oriented stuff, I know, but this is most of what I had to shoot. At least, many of the other pots either didn’t measure up, or were already on the downward slope of feeling my displeasure. Its always a shifting target. Living, growing, evolving all simply mean that we change as new circumstances present new material for us to build our lives and our interests on. Its not a bad thing. It just undermines the false sense of stability we seem to carry around with us when we look at the world and offer our pronouncements and convictions as solid ‘facts’.

So make sure to enjoy what you enjoy now. Time and history are the great revisers. They plow under every good thing that new good things may grow in their place. Enjoy things while you still can. They may not be there tomorrow. Or you may feel different about them the next time you see them. But a different future does not invalidate the present. Take advantage of the things right in your wheelhouse right now. Don’t miss the boat. “Love the one you’re with”.

Don’t take your standards for granted, but LIVE them. And don’t cling to them with the artificial persistence of an ideal. Don’t prop them up with excuses and dogma. Allow them to breathe. Inhaling and exhaling. Allow them to change as fluidly and easily as discovering a new favorite musician, a new favorite bar of chocolate, a new favorite shape or glaze and sloughing off the things we discard. Hold it lightly in our hands. We are defined not by the things we stand on, with an illusion of permanence, but by the agility with which we step from one spot to another, the grace with which we take on new positions and leave behind old stepping stones. Life is THIS process, the forward motion, not the clinging to our past.

Something to think about, at least…..

Peace all!

Make beauty real!


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Arts advocacy, Arts education, Beauty, Ceramics, Creative industry, Creativity, Ephemera, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Pott shots and stepping stones

  1. Pingback: Clay Blog Review - June 2013

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