The potter as midwife

Perhaps the most famous named piece of pottery, the Kizaemon teabowl

Perhaps the most famous named piece of pottery, the Kizaemon teabowl

The Kizaemon teabowl

The Kizaemon teabowl

It may be hard (if not impossible) to get back to unselfconscious pot making, unless you are still a child in the world, but the lesson has to be not simply how it was made but what unpretentious and uncontrived beauty still looks like. Contemporary makers of pots may have evolved in societies where making is now a highly self conscious act, but as audience members we are still exploring subtle truths and possibilities that don’t conform to our accumulated expectations. When I first saw this pot I had no idea why it was fascinating. At that point I had been educated to look at modern pots of famous artists or historical pots from ancient Greece or Rome or indigenous cultures in the New World. It took me a while to appreciate that everything I might have called a flaw in this bowl was a study in the serendipitous awakening of beauty. This pot and a few like it have changed how I look at pots and how I look at the larger world beyond. It helped me see that artists are important not simply for what they put into the work purposefully but for what they allow to happen. Sometimes its as much about the permission given as the planning. Beauty doesn’t wait for you to put it there. Sometimes you have to discover it as it gets born. An artist is sometimes more a midwife than an architect.

Happy potting!

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, Beauty, Ceramics, Clay, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

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