Notes on forgiveness…

This is a reflection post. Photos will be forthcoming of the work happening during this process.

I have been overwhelmed with everything I’ve been working on, from art history to studio work, to teaching, to my coffeeshop job…  I have also not been prioritizing time well.  I could make all kinds of excuses, but really, it comes down to priorities, and the fact that I have always held myself to in-achievable standards.  This, in and of itself, has been a huge and meaningful experience for me.

To have always held this ideal of myself as the ivory tower of my existence, and having beat myself senseless in the face of “failure” has not been helpful.  And I say “failure” because I am not failing, but I am not living up to the standard that I set for myself, which is basically “Be The Superhero, Or Shut Up And Go Home”.  But you can’t just shut up and go home when you’re in school.

I have been working with a student in the classes that I teach with exactly this same set of tangles.  It has been invaluable to me in my efforts at success in my Grad School program, which makes me humbled and grateful that I can do these two things at the same time, and see the results immediately.

So, this semester, as I soldier on, aiming as high as I can, I am learning to be kind to myself, the same thing that I have told my student.  Aim high, do the most you can do, but be kind to yourself when you don’t measure up to some impossible standard you measure yourself by.  Forgive yourself for being the person you are, and move forward.  It doesn’t mean you can’t do better, or won’t do better, it just means allow yourself the grace to find your new and real best.

So, blessings upon everyone for doing their real best, regardless of outside or inside voices. Power. On.

Ceramics Art and Perception: Hong-Ling Wee

As I have perused the issue of Ceramics Art and Perception we were given at the start of the semester, I keep bouncing back to the review of Hong-Ling Wee’s show, Soft Lines, Hard Edges.  This work is an installation of 30 clay houses, arranged precisely on some of the most satisfyingly constructed shelves I have ever seen.  But shelves aside, I was struck my the almost birch bark appearance of the house details, which upon my first glance many weeks ago, I discovered are actually delicately carved and incised windows and doors, glimpses into the interior home-life of one of the most exquisite villages I have seen. These subtle details balanced against the bold coloring of the roofs, and the stark black of the shelves, create an environment that feels very rooted and solid at the same time as there is a magical sense ethereal storytelling.  I wish I could find a good photo with sharing permission that shows the shelves and overall display, but this one captures the essence of what the photos in the article portray:


Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Ceramics Art and Perception: Tomoko Abe


I had never encountered Tomoko Abe’s work until Tomoko Abe’s Weathering Scape by Leigh Taylor Mickelson, in Ceramics Art and Perception, Issue 92, August 2013.  Her use of clay and the environment to create seemingly ephemeral, yet intimately resounding work is a testament to clay’s permanency and fragility.  Using porcelain casting slip, gauze, egg cartons, tennis balls, paper, and photosensitive ink, Abe has created pieces that record the effects of her work practices, as well as the imprint of the world around us, even impressions of rain drops in some of her slab pieces.  There is a sense of tenderness attached to these works that belies the fact of their permanence.  Abe notes, “In these pieces there is the same tension, healing power and forgiveness that this earth offers to us.”

Photo courtesy tomokoabe . com


Ceramics Art and Perception: Linda Christianson

In response to the article on Linda Christianson’s pottery in Ceramics Art and Perception, Issue 92, August 2013, by Robert Silberman:

I have to admit, I always start reading about artists (in any media) having spent time looking at the images of their work, and I am often swept up in sheer glee by their forms and decorations, only to have my joy dashed upon the rocks of some personality trait or prideful remark. This, however, is not the case with Linda Christianson’s work.  I have been drawn to her forms for quite some time, but had not read specifically about her until this article. The forms of her small ewers and mugs shown in this article almost make me want to giggle uncontrollably. Strange, but true- it’s something about the proportions. According to Silberman’s observations in this article, Christianson views her work not as sculpture or art, but more “like engaging tools than anything else.”  He also notes that sense of humor infuses her work ethic, which leads me to believe my response is, perhaps, not unwelcome.

The proportions of this little mug, with its low handle and squat precision, plus stripes, is the essence of what I love about Christianson’s work.


The same stripe motif on this ewer, along with the lid and handle, are also delightful.


I hope I encounter her pottery in person some day and can choose a piece for myself.

Photos courtesy of Pinterest


Newest work from Fall Semester 2014

I have been unfortunately lax in posting work up dates this semester.  Hopefully I will get more timely in the coming weeks.  The following pieces are all handformed earthenware with stains, underglazes, and glazes.

The goal for the set of work was based in the parameters set this semester, starting with Origins: PLACE.  These are all stories and images from growing up in Tennessee on the side of a mountain, with my mom and dad and sister.  We are a tight-knit crew, with animals and the woods as our uniting enthusiasms.  I chose these stories because they all happened at home or began there, and have continually shaped who I am today, which seemed a good way to also lead into our next segment, Origins: IDENTITY.

Each tile is approximately 12 x 12 x 2 inches, and the inside tiles are each approximately 6 x 6 x .5 inches.


AustenReview Austen2Review

Brave Walker:

BraveWalkerReview BraveWalker2Review

Existential (please ignore the typo- I will be keeping this one in my permanent collection):

ExistentialReview Existential2Review

Feral Agent:

FeralAgentReview FeralAgent2Review

Orange Beanie:

OrangeBeanieReview OrangeBeanie2Review

Potato Mine:

PotatoMineReview PotatoMine2Review

Woods Running:

WoodsRunningReview WoodRunning2Review

All of them in my trusty car:


The removable nature of the inside tiles makes these pieces highly successful for me.  That the placement of the story is behind the image and requires viewer investment makes me feel much more comfortable sharing vulnerable stories, and I look forward to pursuing this idea further. Following is the project outline I wrote for this project at the start of the semester:

Continuing in the vein of Graphic Novel aesthetics, but joining the brick idea from Spring 2014, I will construct a series of press molded Earthenware shadow boxes, finished with white underglaze and stains. Within these shadow boxes will be placed small “treasure” tiles, with additional pieces of the memoir-esque storyline carved and drawn. Text, if there is any, will be stamped into the inner sides of the shadow boxes. This is to explore ways to maintain a high level of vulnerability, which is essential for my feeling of success about this work, but also express the tenderness of childhood memories and encourage investment from the viewer in exploring these observations and narratives.

To connect this idea to the assignment- Origins: PLACE, will focus on stories and observations from growing up with my family in Tennessee. Since I spent a large portion of my undergrad and a year post-college, as well as substantial portions of my teaching career, doing pinch/coil and pitfiring, I am instead going to focus on pushing my comfort level with Earthenware and low temperature glazes.

Given my propensity for odd numbers, and my unreasonable enamoration with the number 7, I will make 7 of these. This also continues the connection to Spring 2014, since those tile series were also sets of 7.