Saturday, July 19, 2008

the problem with pretty

There's this issue I've been struggling with for a while now in my work. Basically, making beautiful, pretty things in clay is one of the easiest things in the world for me. If I really opened the taps, there would be no end to it. There is no end to it. And one of the reasons why I put myself in the ranks of tortured artist is because I actually don't value pretty things all that much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a girly-girl who looooves beautiful things in the world. I need cute shoes, lip gloss, and pretty dresses to function properly on this planet. But when it comes to making my own work, pretty ain't worth much. It's too easy, and I don't value my work unless it's hard-- it must challenge me on some level. I'm like that with a lot of things in my life- I'm notorious with learning lessons the hard way, which was really wore down my poor mom when I was growing up. When I first started with my work, it was all hard, but I've been working at it long enough now where the only hard part is dealing with bad firings. And annoying wholesale customers.

I've been thinking about this for a while, trying to come to some sort of settlement on the issue. Sometimes I go with full acceptance: I am blessed with this ability to make beautiful things, and I should simply receive this gift and make beautiful things. But I can't fool myself; I feel as though I'm not seeing the real gift right in front of me, but I don't know what it is. I'm blind. Then, I received an email two days ago from one of my friends, who I will call EL-ZIE. I dread Elzie's emails sometimes because I know she loves me and my work, but she also sees right through my bullshit:

Your work is so much tamer than you are. You are a wild woman. Push past the pretty girl. Please, put some of the bad words in. The intellectual and biting humor part of you that comes through in your writing. Art is all code for who we really are, presented in a way that we are ready to expose to others. I think that you have laid the ground work, and I can say that I am ready for more of you.

I immediately closed this email and tried to act like I hadn't read it, but of course thought about it all day. I can't pretend that this is all there is to my work, as easy and lovely as that would be. If I'm going to continue to call myself an artist, I have to let go of the pretty as my driving force... but how? And am I making this too hard too, this process of evolution, or is struggling so much a part of my DNA that I have no choice but to do it this way? And did I just manage to say "I, me, mine" 15 times in one paragraph?

People, I'm going on vacation now. I obviously need it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

we'll let the pictures do the talking

Where have I been? I have been locked up in the studio, preparing for my favorite retail show of the year, the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival. You know how I complain about my wholesale shows? Well, the Palo Alto Festival is, like, the opposite side of the spectrum. I've been doing this show for 10 years, and I have a solid fan base there of people who wait all year to see me, check out my new stuff, and then buy it all. Plus, I get to see all of my pottery and glass pals, and Saturday night we have a huge party and get loaded. Hey, it's fun! AAAAANNNDD one of my partners in crime from Japan last summer, Nick, is driving in to be my booth slave during the show. These are all pots that have come out of the kiln in the past 2 days, and this a lot of this collection is about my new obsession, bell jars. I have one more load coming out tomorrow, I hope to have time to shoot them and post later. Palo Alto is one of the places where I debut new work and ideas, so let's just let the pictures do the talking. :

Hello, am I not the cutest goddamn thing? (That's the bell jar above talking)