One of the things that I truly, madly, deeply love about teaching is that I get to tell all of my students that there is more than one way to work with clay. I let my students know that I am teaching an easy way to feel successful on the potter's wheel, but over time, they will each develop their own relationship with clay.
Every time I teach this approach, I am reminded to do this in my own life in everything that I do. It is the most freeing thing I have done for myself, to give myself permission to find my own way to do things when whatever I have been told to do is not working out.
Throughout my life, I have curated activities and paths that would enable me to have many options to choose from and many back doors through which to escape if needed. I began very early living an unconventional life, though at the time, I didn't see it that way. I just knew that I wasn't interested in doing things that I saw as illogical or boring.
When I tell my students to focus on developing their own relationship with clay, I know what they are doing is what they would do anyway; create a relationship that mirrors all the other relationships in their lives. For instance, if a potter has a problem with boundaries with their loved ones, this will come out in how they approach the clay. If another person cannot seem to master the rhythm of the wheel, it is because they are out of rhythm, in some way, in their life. If a student is disappointed in whatever they make because their expectations were out of line with what is actually possible....
You might wonder why I know this. How I could possibly know for sure that this is the case? Well, it is because of the hundreds of conversations I have had with students when we talk about what is going on with them and their clay and they respond with, "yes this is how it is with my ___________." As above, so below.
This is why I encourage people to undertake an art practice, any art practice, because if they are able to pay attention to how they handle their materials, and how they react to the pieces they create, they will see that this is also how they treat the rest of their lives, and maybe even see a reason and a way to grow and change things if they so desire.
It is the most powerful transformational tool I have ever used, and no matter what I am working on, be it sculpture, pottery, paintings, stickers, or social engagement projects, I pay close attention to how I interact with the content, materials, and outcome of the work I do. It serves as a powerful mirror for the things I might be fooling myself out of seeing. It also comforts me. I spend hours and hours alone with my work in one way or another, and in this way, I am connecting with myself on a deep level and bringing out parts of me that sometimes surprise the hell out of me. It's awesome.
I have recently started a new series of work and ended another. It is an exciting and scary time. I am watching myself slowly move forward with this new work, as what I am doing is somewhat intimidating. This is how it always is at first. I give myself plenty of time to think about my work, what it means, what I might be missing, and what could maybe be thrown out of the creative equation. The idea for my new series came to me in an energetic vision. The development of that idea is up to me, and the strategy of making is also mine. I don't know where I get my ideas, except to say they come from the universe. They feel very much like they are planted in me, and I know when I get one, that I am supposed to put it out into the world. If I don't, I get depressed, conversely, the more I listen and follow this guidance, the more I get them.
Over the course of my creative life, I have noticed a few things about creativity that has helped me with my efforts.
I have created a religion of sorts around creativity that puts me in the best place to make things on a pretty regular basis.
This is part of my sense of self, how I see the world, and it flavors my perspective of others. I know for a fact that everyone is creative because I know that I am not special, I have just focused on being creative. I know I was born with it, just as every other person has been and will be, until we cease to exist. I also know that most people don't think they are creative because they have been abused into believing that they are safer being typical. That's why I am a cheerleader. The world is full of people who will put you down. Full of governments, organizations, and companies that will force you into tiny boxes that cramp your muscles and limit your ability to breathe. I will not be one more person who keeps people from realizing their unique and fantastic potential.
I am the person who will cheer you on to ignore the bastards who would have you cower, and find and celebrate the creative person that you are. I am the person who will hold up the magical mirror and help you see your beauty. I get to tell all my students that their way is the best way for them and it is their responsibility to find it. That's my job.
Aren't I lucky?
Is an artist, a philosopher, a writer and a teacher. She will be writing random thoughts here. Follow along if you are interested.
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