As a working artist, I've known times of feast and famine. I mean, I didn't get this far without having more than a few days, weeks, or months, wondering how I would pay my bills and put food on the table. At the same time, I've not wavered from my love of this art form and just figured that eventually, it would all work out if I kept going. But that is the nature of the arts.
Telling a parent or a teacher, who are not themselves artists, that one has chosen pottery as a career, is to hoist with your own petard. There is no career track for such a thing. Of course, if you want to spend a lot of money to get your BFA in ceramics from Rhode Island School of Design, have at. I'm not the academic type; I preferred the dirty pursuit of throwing clay day in day out whilst listening to the Who's 1973 vinyl lp Quadrophenia, among so many others! Rather than study in a college setting, I worked hard, practiced, failed often, and had other master potters who taught me everything. So many good times, great work, fond evenings, deep conversations and good whiskey.
So, when a version of the plague came to the US earlier this year, it reminded me of how tenuous our lives and careers are. It reminded me of those lean years of living on that edge, not knowing how this would work out! Like everyone else, I've had to table some projects, save some money by cutback and cutout, and I was fortunate that I never ran out of toilet paper! But these restrictions didn't hamper; they helped. I've re-tuned my focus and recovered something essential about my work that, perhaps, I'd lost track of a little bit. I took up this form for one reason because I love it. I love the smell of wet clay, the dried silt on my clothing, and the beautiful shapes that emerge as the wheel spins the clay against my hands. I love working in my studio, sitting at my wheel, and listening to Robert Randolphs epic performance at Eric Clapton's 2004 Crossroads!
Mostly, I truly love partnering with clients to create something unique, and to see their joy on that day they get their dinnerware set or a one of a kind object. I'm grateful and humbled, that this is what I do.
Eventually, COVID will pass, and we will find a more normal existence in one way or another. What I've learned as a lifelong artist is that things will work out, and that new possibilities will emerge. We've got this!
There's a scene in the 1998 movie "Shakespeare In Love" where Philip Henslow, played by Geofrey Rush is explaining to Fennyman, a frustrated theater producer, about the realities of the theater, or the arts if you will.
Henslowe: The natural condition is one of unsurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. Believe me, to be closed by the plague is a bagatelle (trifle) in the ups and downs of owning a theater.
Fennyman: So what do we do?
Henslowe: Nothing! Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.
See you soon!