Thursday, September 26, 2019

identity change

Things are changing around here. For starters, this week I started my first teaching gig at Berkeley Potters Studio. It's just one night a week, an intermediate to advanced throwing class, but for me it's a big deal.

I've been asked on and off over the years to teach, and for the most part I have resisted. Many reasons, the most important one being that I spend all of my working hours making my own stuff, and I don't want anything getting in the way of that. One of my greatest pleasures in life is having complete control over my own schedule. The whole time I was a kid, I just could not wait to get out from under the tyranny of an imposed schedule. As an adult, I'm a bit protective over maintaining that control.

There are other reasons, and this one I'm a bit sheepish to admit, but here it is: the fact that I have been able to make a decent living as an artist for 20 straight years is a huge part of my identity. I'm proud that I can do this, and I have some ego wrapped up in it too. Let's say... a lot of ego.

Being attached to an idea of my own artist identity is something I've been breaking down, a process that probably started after my mom died. There are many scraps of enlightenment and self-knowledge that come from this, not all of them easy or pleasant.

One of the uneasy facts is that I am starting to get tired, and perhaps a little bored with this way of life. I still love making pottery and I am not at all tired of that, if anything I am more obsessed than ever. But depending on it for the sole source of my income is a cycle-- constantly renewing, always repeating, and never-ending. And almost all of my creativity is fire-hosed into this endeavor. And I wonder if there are other things I could do that wouldn't take up almost every ounce of my lifeblood.
And also, give me a different challenge.

The thought of being something other than a solely self-supporting artist has brought up feelings of diminishment and a loss of self-worth, and I'm asking myself: why? It's all about how I want to see myself, and how I want other people to see me. Being an artist means being something of an outsider to the rest of society, and I like that. I have a lot of identity wrapped up in it.

But all of that is also just a story, and the ego loves telling us a good story about who we are. Because as much as I would like to see myself as someone living on the edge, I could also be seen as a servant to capitalism and a slave to social media in my daily hustle to get the pots out of my studio and into people's homes. Was that the dream? And that too is just a story.

I'm moving through all of these feelings toward something different for my life. There is going to be more teaching, there may be a thing called "paychecks", and a new business may be coming out of all of this. I'll keep everyone who is interested in the loop, right here.


  1. Fantastic post.

    Really enjoyed reading it and it held my attention all the way through! Keep it up.

    Read my Latest Post

  2. Nice post!
    Thanks for sharing it with us….
    Keep sharing more posts like this….

  3. This touches on what I call the Myths of Self, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, which then feed into actions we take, which both create and are created by the myths. Some Myths of Self are destructive ("I am a such fuck-up! That's so me, to make a dumb mistake like that") but even the positive, cherished ones can be limiting.
    Go you, for challenging your own Myths!