Sunday, February 14, 2010

Looking at things more closely

Earlier today, fellow potter and blogger, Jim Gottuso commented on yesterday's blog posting. It really struck a chord in me. First off, I can safely say I agree with most of Jim's assertions. My divorce was probably one of the best things that happened in my life. Mostly because it meant that a year and a half later, I would meet Nancy and she would ask me to be her husband (single-handedly one of the BEST things ever in my life!). But that cannot take away from the pain and disillusionment that I went through during the divorce. At this point, both Nancy and I stand and stare at that point in our lives when we met... for her it was also a climax time with everything crashing down around her.... and when we look back, there is no longing to go back. There is grief though. Healthy grief. Knowing that something died and that you have to keep going forward.

Jim's other comment dealt with how a professor can have such a strong (potentially negative) impact on a student.... hit the nail on the head. When I applied to grad school my hope was to see my work transition to wood and salt firing. I chose this particular program because of the strength of the professor in these areas, as well as his expertise as a tool maker. I never asked about his pedagogy or his ideology. It simply never even entered into my mind. In retrospect, I assumed he would be just like my previous professors... wonderful, open-minded, creative, helpful, kind, opinionated but wise....the list goes on.

It seems so obvious now, but the professors I had known earlier were simply awesome. No two ways about it. Frank Ozereko still stands out in my mind as one of the best professors I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Every superlative could be applied to him and it would still miss the measure of the man. Prior to taking my first independent study with him, my opinion was that he would have nothing to teach me since his clay work was predominantly sculptural and low-temp at that. I figured being a stoneware and porcelain thrower we would have nothing to talk about. Funny how first assumptions can really cloud your vision. During our first critique I anticipated being talked down to by a sculptor.... and instead I found his insight to be right on the money. After class, I walked back to the bus feeling transparent. I knew that he had seen things in my pots only I knew about. Suddenly we had LOTS to talk about.

Jim's final note that the prof that he had difficulties with now raises sheep made me laugh. My first workstudy job when I was an undergrad was tending sheep on our school farm. Imagine a boy from Miami writing home about taking care of 60 head of sheep at 7am and 3pm every day. I don't think that was what my dad had in mind when he sent me off to school.

Jim's suggestion that writing my thesis in verse would have been harder than simply writing it in standard art-speak essay style is kind of ironic. Poetry was my first way of striking out at adversity. I wrote prolifically until graduate school. Never saw anything significant published, but had a few poems read at book fairs and the like. So, in honor of Jim's suggestion, I am going to slowly add more images of this body of work to the blog (as time allows) and as I dig further into the vault of images, if I can drum up some of the ideas that spurred the original poems, I'll try to get them down into the blog. Here's hoping I can tap that well-spring.

Thank you Jim for commenting and spurring me along. Much appreciated!

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