Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why I love clay.

In one of the facebook groups that I have joined, a grad student doing a thesis asked, "Why do you use clay as your main material?"

My response was, "There is something spiritual to working with clay. The fusion of earth, water, air and fire to create with human hands something from nothing. The life of the created work, like us, is fragile and eventually becomes shards which may be passed on to future generations. Some of our works are merely beautiful and serve to enrich us with their pure aesthetic, and other may not be so beautiful but serve us our dinner, our drink, or other menial tasks we assign to them. I choose to work in clay because it is a temporal medium that combines the subtle nuance of gesture in the making, with the creative expression of decoration and glazing all to be frozen as a success or failure within the kiln. Most other mediums can be manipulated until they are finished, but a pot is done once its fired."

I have to admit that my eyes have been reopened to the amazing depth of knowledge encompassed in the craft of ceramics.

When I first encountered it in school it was a course which was difficult, that I muddled my way through. That was my experience with college that I attended when I was 18, and 19 years old. There is a clear schism in my memory of the past where before which I consider myself to be almost entirely insane. I was already employed full time as a programmer, so rather than struggle in that uphill battle of work and college I focused on work. I attribute some of this to my experiences with SPD myself, but somewhere in my mid 20's the fog lifted and I could actually concentrate on my school work and excel in it. My wife was beginning her Masters program that year, so it was the right time for me to go back. I finished my remaining two years of my computer science degree with all A level work.

Now, I find I have an insatiable curiosity regarding almost everything. I've developed the patience to learn at a pace that is also not frustrating, but I'm also excited to start digging into the materials science, the artistry, and the subtle skills needed to be proficient.

Here is a video of Simon Leach, who describes a similar sentiment.

1 comment:

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

The way I see it is this: pottery students can come a long way quickly and make some nice pieces, and then you spend the rest of your life fine-tuning and exploring. Clay is INFINITE!
btw, what's your first name? just curious