Thursday, December 15, 2011

Passion and Frustration

A few years ago when I started doing ceramics I was surprised by the passion that grabbed me to work with clay. I was talking with a friend the other day who goes to the studio once a week. “It’s hardly enough,” he mentioned. And I thought to myself, “once a day is barely enough for me!” So I continue to experience feet off the ground excitement to have a sabbatical year to use in which to explore clay. My month at Medalta last year was an exercise in productivity and learning that set the stage for what I’m launching into.

Sculpture has grabbed me in a way I never expected. All the years I went to museums I never gave it a second look—usually not even a first, and now that has changed. Looking is one thing, but then there’s the wonder of creating art.

The urge to create comes with frustrations too. Our place in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a small antique house with no room for a kiln. Perhaps my best bet would be to continue working in the studio at Boston University where I teach, a short seven minute bike ride away. But the studio is an undergraduate space and the current instructor, not a ceramicist, has not “let me in” the way Sachi did when we worked together. Kiln space tends to be used inefficiently and I’m needlessly apologetic about firing my sculptures. If it’s BU next year it will have to be in sync with Batu, who I know will teach me a lot and share a lot of give and take.

Some of the private studios nearby have excellent reputations. I’ll look into them. The Harvard Ceramics Program may be my best bet:

but there are restrictions about size and firing that I will run into.

Residencies are an option and I have applied to several. Yesterday I spoke with the Vermont Studio Center. I was accepted there for an eight week residency in winter, 2013. But after our discussion I’m not sure the single smallish kiln there will accommodate what I want to do, as my sculptures are growing larger and larger. The place is beautiful and I’d love being there, especially in the middle of winter when I can walk to studio and not have to deal with the destructive salt we pour onto our streets here (have a look at these photos):

I’m looking at other residencies as well some in New England, some farther afield. It’s all exciting, all a matter of balancing home, family, and ambition. Coming in as a senior scientist and an “emerging” artist is quite a challenge!

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