I’m thinking of making some draped or folded porcelain vessels to replace slipcast flower pots. All but one of my African violets are in the wrong kind of pot. They need two-piece nesting vessels, the outer one glazed, the inner one unglazed. Water is poured into the outer bowl and the moisture leaches through the porous middle pot to the plant roots. I want the vessels to have a somewhat constrained, yet haphazard feel…to combine sculpture with function. I looked at some pieces by artists that are shown online. Some of the techniques used wouldn’t be appropriate for my purposes, but I’d like to use a folded, paddled form, something similar to the piece shown above. An elegant vessel by Mary Rogers, it is called Folded Porcelain Bowl. From Derbyshire, England, Rogers’ work is incredible and I’d like to feature her at some point. Some of her pieces have a marine biological feel, which also appeals to me. Next, I found Carol Barclay, a Rochester, New York artist who drapes porcelain. Drape molds are available commercially at this U.S. art supply store, but you could make your own with plaster, too. Here’s a link for rectangular wooden drape molds from Tucker’s Pottery Supplies online store in Ontario, Canada. Barclay’s “Gathering Bowl” is quite nice. I think I like hers best as sculptural forms only because I can then concentrate on the draping. Finally, some folded porcelain vessels that have a more clean-edged, modern appeal. By Danish designer Karin Blach Nielsen, these delicate pieces called “Snack Bowls” are made from molds made of folded paper. I like the asymmetry. Blech Nielsen creates dinner sets and one-off pieces of porcelain and stoneware. Here’s a link to a serving dish with a filigree pattern.
Tag Archives: Art
“I never had the sense of myself as an accomplished artist, and I always had to work three times as hard as anyone else to make my pieces as good as they could be. I am never completely satisfied. There always seems to be something just beyond my reach.”
Japanese-American ceramist, sculptor and weaver Toshiko Takaezu passed away March 9th in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was 88. A pioneer, she made a considerable impact in the art world. Hawaiian-born of Japanese parents, she traveled to her ethnic homeland in 1955 to study traditional Japanese pottery and Buddhism. By this time, she had studied ceramics since 1948; her work was influenced by the ‘mother of American ceramics,’ Maija Grottell. Takaezu taught ceramics at Princeton for 25 years and, after retiring in 1990, she worked as a studio potter in Quakertown, New Jersey. Later, she returned to Hawaii. She had a no-nonsense approach and demanded that all students cut their fingernails, celebrities included. At the beginning or her own artistic career, Takaezu created functional pieces but later she began making monolithic pieces, organic sculptures with closed tops. Of her glazing technique, Jay Jensen said, “She’s using the clay surface as sort of a canvas – just the broad brush strokes, and Mrs. Takaezu letting the glaze run and pool and drip.” A curator at Hawaii’s Contemporary Museum at Makiki Heights, Jensen said, “I would describe each of her works as a little world” in an interview for Midweek Artbeat. The following tributes from newspapers and blogs further illustrate Toshiko Takaezu:
- The New York Times
- Honolulu Advertiser-Star
- The Honolulu Civil Beat
- The Daily Princetonian
- Princeton University
Books written about or by Toshiko Takaezu:
Our artistic vision is our guiding light. It illuminates the terrain around us and our inner life. We must come to trust ourselves and our artistic vision. At the same time, it is best to surround ourselves with people who believe in us or who support us or who remain neutral. This last part is especially important and has to do with ourselves, too, not just others.
If I do not understand another’s artistic vision or if I am aware of or come to recognize that I question it, I immediately place myself in a willed state of neutrality. I do not want to affect the other person with feelings of ambivalence or anything negative, so I will remain neutral. Sometimes this state isn’t easy to achieve, but I do it by repeating a very simple but extremely powerful mantra that I learned from a person beloved to me, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, otherwise known as Gurudeva. He was not/is not my guru. I have no guru. But I learned much from him and one of the things I learned is this deceivingly simple mantra, the effect of which places anyone who says it in a super-conscious state instantly. The mantra is “Who am I ? Not this body.” When said, it is a means of zapping me out of any form of judgment and putting me on a different plane, one without judgment. It is an easy way to become neutral fast.
Likewise, we must protect ourselves from others who are judgmental or negative and who do not maintain neutrality around us. This is especially important when we have an idea for a new project. If we, without thinking, start chattering about our idea before it is distilled and part of our being, we affect it negatively and might even quash it. The idea quite literally changes, evaporates, or is something that is no longer married to us. However, if we keep the idea to ourselves and let it gestate, the time will come when it is ready to see the light of day. This is not ‘keeping secrets.’ Keeping our idea to ourselves until it and we are ready is a way of protecting ourselves and our artistic vision. At this point, we can speak or write about it to others. Still, it is best to be selective about who we tell. If we tell someone who maintains neutrality, we won’t be affected. If we tell someone who is supportive, our idea is graced, we feel warm and affirmed. However, if we are criticized or if we receive a message that is indirectly negative, clothed in supportive words and non-verbal behavior, we must be guided by our intuition and immediately stop talking to this person about our intended project. In fact, after we do, it’s not a bad idea to take back any power we may have inadvertently given that person, too, by simply stating that we are doing it and visualizing pulling power from the other back into ourselves. For me, I would pull it back to my solar plexus chakra, the chakra of personal power. Likewise, if we do find ourselves in the midst of another who is acting negative or judgmental about our artistic vision, don’t judge them; remain neutral. It can be done with practice. And do not take what the other person is saying personally. It isn’t about you; it’s about them and you do not need to invite that kind of garbage into yourself. View it impersonally and remain neutral. So, our ideas must be incubated around people who believe in us and we must believe in ourselves. Our belief in ourselves is more important, though, and we must culture an internal locus of control. If we constantly look to others for approval, we are operating from an external locus of control and this does not help our artistic vision.
Good Support System
A good support system is invaluable. My first thought is of my beloved friend, Russ, who died in the mid-1990s. He believed in me very strongly and he knew me very well. We attended the same college and had several things in common: photography, journalism, art, poetry. We co-edited a fine literary magazine, worked for the student newspaper and in professional theatre as light-sound technicians and stage hands. At the time, he was coming to terms with his homosexuality in a world that was unkind. We were fast friends and I will never ever forget his unswerving support. Russ quite literally felt that I could do anything. This belief in another was an amazing thing to behold. He also had a strong sense of his own artistic vision, was an excellent photographer and a very a gifted poet. He was able to be as supportive as he was because he was not ego-involved. He was not jealous, nor did he feel competitive, two qualities that spell a lack of support mixed with toxicity. We must recognize readily and stay away from this toxic mix. And culture being around supportive people. Such people are not sycophants. They are people who can constructively criticize as well as support. They are authentic, not phony. Make firm boundaries for yourself. As Fritz Perls said, “I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations.”
Rollo May thought we all have experiences similar to that of the scientist who brainstormed his Nobel prize-winning formula while he slept. While our dreams may not be as dramatic, May said we all experience “processes of forming, making, building…even if we are not consciously aware of them at the time.” Yesterday, my post focused on the physiological effects of intense creative encounters. Continuing where I left off in May’s “The Nature of Creativity,” we now switch our focus to the relationship between will and purpose in regard to creativity. It is clear that creativity “goes on in varying degrees of intensity on levels not directly under the control of conscious willing,” according to May. Yet, heightened awareness does not mean “increased self-consciousness,” he clarified. Instead, it correlates with abandoning ourselves to the creative process, becoming absorbed in it and this “involves a heightening of awareness in the whole personality.” Unconscious answers and insights to our problems that come “in review” are not hit or miss, though. They occur when we’re relaxing, fantasizing, or alternating play with work, he said. I know he’s not talking about creativity in the workplace, but what he said did make me think of it. Setting the mood for such creative breakthroughs is hardly the modus operandi of a typical workplace. However, it is likely that workplaces that do encourage high levels of creativity have playgrounds little different from the one in Tom Hanks’ “Big.” Radical Entertainment, a computer game company in Vancouver, has just such a play area for its employees. Still, it is very clear that intense creative encounters, wrote May, “pertain to those areas in which the person consciously has, worked laboriously and with dedication.” The phenomenon of purpose in human beings is so much more complex than what used to be termed will power. “Purpose involves all levels of experience. We cannot will to have insights. We cannot will creativity. But we can will to give ourselves to the encounter with intensity of dedication and commitment.” There is a relationship here, May said. “The deeper aspects of awareness are activated to the extent that the person is committed to the encounter.” Many years later, Julia Cameron would write about such a relationship in her groundbreaking book, The Artist’s Way, about kick starting creativity. I have followed her program several times when I found myself at a dead-end. We have all needed a push sometime or other. Standing on the edge of the diving board is much different from taking the plunge. I remember a very specific instance in my own life during my late teens. I was in charge of recruiting a model at the art school I attended and I chose my lovely friend, Cynthia. On the day she modeled, she wore a vintage dress and looked beautiful. Our teacher, Ken Spiering, and Cynthia were in the middle of the room, surrounded by a little circle of budding artists. I remember looking at the canvas in front of me, a canvas I’d made and gessoed. A fairly large one. As I stood before it, the whiteness loomed. I don’t know if I felt some type of self-consciousness over painting a friend, but the whiteness of the canvas in front of me kept growing larger and I could not put brush to canvas. My heart started pounding and, finally, I tore myself away, running out of the room, out of the building, and down the block till I got a grip on myself. In retrospect, it sounds like I had a panic attack. Regardless, I had to come back to the canvas. And I did. I could not will creativity, but I willed myself back into that studio.