The break for the holidays has given me time to really sit down and focus on my latest project, which will be a large ceramic installation at Spark Gallery in February. While I'm pouring molds and attaching pieces I've been binge watching BBC history documentaries on YouTube. During this binge, I stumbled upon a series about the artwork at Chatsworth House and a piece by the artist Jacob van der Beugel entitled The North Sketch. Seeing this piece and watching the video about it really reminded me of the real reason why I'm working so hard to get this MFA. It's not the opportunity to teach that keeps me completing course work, it's the hope that someday I, too, will be able to make beautiful, touching artwork. My work may not be something that everyone can connect with, but my ultimate goal is to be able to make subtle, well thought out works of art that those who are willing to take the time to get to know them can connect with on many different levels, just like van de Beugel's work.
We live in a society of instant gratification, one that has far too many distractions and it can be very difficult to get people to slow down and spend more than a few seconds with a work of art. As an artist, it is our challenge to grab people's attention and make them look. For me, the challenge is to do this without sacrificing the quiet calm that is important to my artwork. The temptation can be to add bright, flashing lights or shiny gold to one's work in order to attract attention, but is this in line with what I want my artwork to convey? I draw inspiration from artists like Edmund de Waal with his simple, repeated forms coming together to create beautiful, restful installations and Wolfgang Laib who states that his artwork is not the square of pollen that he creates in the gallery, but, rather, the days on end that he spends in the fields gathering pollen. In our crazy, busy lives we are most likely not able to spend hours on end in a field in the countryside gathering pollen or spend hours at the potter's wheel making hundreds of simple vases, but perhaps we can take in a brief moment of the peace and solitude that goes into the making of such works of art.
With my latest piece, I hope that I can capture the feeling of walking through the woods looking at the shape of leaves and marveling at the geometry of its repeated forms. I worry that the simplicity and calm of a walk in the woods may not come through in my work because of how harried I feel at the moment, but I think it's a good goal to have. To bastardize a phrase from David Sedaris, "Me Make Pretty One Day."
Happy new year to all of you and may 2017 give you many wonderful opportunities!