Sunday, September 9, 2012


Last year I made some pots and fired them and decided I didn't like them. So I threw them away. One day I came downstairs to the studio and one of my friends who was a grad student told me that he had something to show me that he was really excited about. So a little while later he came out from where the kilns are located carrying this pot that he had just taken from a kiln. It was one of the ones I had thrown away. He added color and the gold luster to it and wrote this little note on the bottom. It kind of made my day. I still think the cup was not good, but his positive and encouraging attitude meant a lot. And it made me remember to have fun with this career path. I got into ceramics because I loved it and could not imagine not knowing more about it, not because I was ever great at it. Making art is so personal because you put yourself into it. Even if you don't know what you're making, you put something of yourself into it...your ideas, your skills, and it makes you vulnerable. So although critiques are necessary and helpful (and usually hugely inspiring) sometimes you will have a critique that makes you feel terribly low and like you are a failure. It is tough. It is different from anything else I have studied.

In the past three weeks I got some less-than-encouraging feedback from my professors that made me feel so upset about the quality of work I was making and really insecure in my abilities and career decisions. Even though I have tried really hard it just seems like I am not where I want to be or need to be in this process and the fact that graduation is one academic year away makes me really worried. It shakes my confidence and makes me feel like although I gave so much of myself to my schooling these past years it just was never enough and I feel like I did something wrong. I found this little cup while I was cleaning out my cabinet today and it encouraged me a bit. My work is not garbage. My ideas are not garbage. I don't need to be ashamed of the work I make as long as I am trying. I am learning and I keep making progress. Learning can and will continue once I finish school. I am trying to ease off on the pressure and it is difficult, but little reminders like this help me relax and try to keep enjoying what I do.

I'm thankful for the friend who took time out of his day to be an encouragement. Not only in this situation, but in many. I would say that he taught me more about making art and enjoying what you do than any teacher I have had. Art is hard. It makes you vulnerable. It brings you pretty low. But there is a lot of fun and joy in making work. And you have to own what you make and learn to like it while you are on your way to becoming the artist you want to be. I'm trying to recapture that enthusiasm and passion for playing with clay that I had when I first started. And I want to be the kind of person who helps and encourages others along the way.

So thank you, friend. For your help, advice, encouragement, and example.

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