Wow, I Was Blown Away
Wow, I Was Blown Away
I was asked to judge at the Art Olympics in the Granite School District. I was blown away with the talent and the skill level. At this event, the students had approximately 4 hours to produce a work of art. There were potters, painters, sculptures and mixed media.
At this Olympics, I had the opportunity to speak to the artists and to interact with them. One of the ways to judge a piece of pottery is to see if the thickness is consistent. Is the thickness of the sides and bottom not to thin or too thick? The way you tell that is by cutting the pot in half. When I asked the students to cut their pot in half you could see their eyes widen. I remember the first time I cut my pot in half to see how I was doing as far as making my pots consistent. It was an absolutely ugly pot and I was still devastated that it had to be cut. It takes years to get to the point that your pots are consistent. If they aren’t they could easily break when they are fired. Plus, it adds to its ascetic appearance.
One of the hardest things about being an artist is feeling that you or your art is just not good enough. When a work of art is made it is from the heart and the sole. It is like a piece of you. What if someone doesn’t like it????
I used to live in Pittsburgh, and I wanted to make a pot that portrayed the city skyline. After giving it much thought I finally decided to throw a tall pot with just a little rounding at the belly. I tried throwing this pot at least 3 times before I finally got the shape I wanted. Then I had to let it dry until it was leather hard. After that I started carving some of the majestic and historic buildings you find in that big city. Day after day I carved; step-by-step it started taking on the historic cityscape. That was exciting to me. I felt it was breath taking and I hadn’t even fired it yet. It was finally ready for the first firing. It came out of the kiln looking just as I had planned. Even that step seemed to be a miracle. I planned to do a Raku firing for the second time around. That is when you take the very hot pot out of the kiln and put it into a combustion chamber filled with shredded newspaper. The paper catches on fire because of the very hot pot. I then put a lid on it in which it starves the fire of oxygen. This makes fire licks on the pot or it can make white crackle glaze have black cracking lines all over it.
So, with building excitement and enthusiasm I put the glazed pot into the kiln. When It reached temperature, I turned the kiln off and opened it to remove my pot to the combustion chamber. During that process, I hit the tip of my pot in the edge of the kiln and brock off the top part of one of the historic buildings. I was devastated. It was supposed to be ready to put up for auction at an art gallery. Now all I had to enter was a broken pot. After three days of crying I decided that I only had too choices to make. 1- I could choose to never do art again because I am not good enough to even get it through the firing. Or 2- I could choose to move forward.
I decided to go ahead and enter it into the auction. I renamed it “Broken Tear” in part because of all the tears I cried to create it and it had not turned out the way I wanted it to.
The amazing thing about that pot is that it sold for around 3 times more than any pot I had sold previously. The reason being that the person that bought it had lived in Pittsburg most of their life and had seen beautiful historic buildings being laid to rest. That pot touched her heart to the very core. Broken Tears.
Life doesn’t always turn out as we plan it, yet in all of this mess, the learning and the broken tears, there is something magical. The biggest lesson taken from this incident is that we are good enough right where we are. Yes, there is a lot of learning to still take place AND we are still good enough right where we are.
Take life one-step at a time; believe in yourself; share what or who you are and love the growing times.
It feels so good to see so many young people sharing their talents and to believe enough in themselves that they will produce and share their creative talents. The students I spent time with that day were extra ordinary. Keep up the amazing work.