You have perhaps heard me moan about the pitfalls of ‘signature style’ over the years, but it perhaps takes an extraordinary circumstance and not a little courage to be willing to change. We can get too comfortable with our personas in the studio, and if we are not careful complacence eventually gets boring enough that we are condemned to a half-life as artists: We go through the motions but the passion is gone. We are animated husks churning out product. We are less curious than satisfied. And that can be dangerous.
Lately I am a bit lost myself. At some unknown point in my process selling my pots seems to have replaced an interest in making them. I mean, I hate selling, but I suddenly found I was only making in order that I would sell things. My making had become subservient to what I could flog in the marketplace. Yikes!!! Didn’t I know better? But the truth is I never saw the transition. Some malevolent magician waved his hands and while I was distracted, that brief moment I took my eye off what I was doing, the switch was made and I never saw or even noticed the substitution.
That coupled with the fatigues of dealing with an election gone wrong has seen me lose touch with beauty. I know what makes one pot better than the next, but I don’t exactly care. I can make the mental calculations for assessing quality, but I don’t feel why this matters. I don’t understand it. I am no longer thrilled by beauty. The wonder has been sucked from the world. I am no longer amazed. I look at my studio from the outside and I can no longer make sense of the person who spent the last decades enfolded in its embrace. This is the tragedy of my life at the moment…..
But I’m not giving up! I spent a day last week kibitzing around the firing of Ron Meyers’ woodkiln, and got to hang our with my wise potter friends Kyle Jones, Tony Clennell, Steve Driver, Josh Copus, Hannah May, Emma Smith, and Rick Agel. And this weekend I’m attending a workshop with Linda Christianson, who taught me for a semester back in the day. I’m hoping that with all this pottery stimulation I can recapture at least some of what has been lost.
I don’t yet have a plan of action for what’s next. I don’t yet have a reason. Knowing is insufficient for understanding. Understanding balks at a lack of desire. I must first rediscover my curiosity. That is the stumbling block I fail to clear. I have wasted too much time in the studio without having a good reason. I need my mojo back.
Wish me luck!