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.