Sunday, December 30, 2007

Aesthetic Push and Pull

Initially, I expected to write about the Ninsei teabowl as representative of my aesthetic heritage. But as I looked at the two objects more and more, I find myself most attracted to the Kizaemon Ido teabowl. There are several reasons for this. The foremost being that I am most empathetic with the Ido bowl. This empathy is for the imperfections and irregularities in the bowl, which in the western aesthetic I would argue we tend not to value. It is this sort of natural beauty that reflects human nature and imperfection that I find more attractive than the precise technical skills of the Ninsei bowl.

The contemplative simplicity of the Ido bowl is something that I am attracted to, most likely because my own work is more didactic and illustrative. I am also very attracted to the clear evidence of the hand of the maker in the Ido bowl. The direct connection I feel with the maker when i use a pot similar to this is very exciting for me. I hope that my interest and appreciation of this quality will allow me to incorporate it into my work formally as well as conceptually.

I do think that I have been trained to be attracted to this simpler aesthetic over the Ninsei bowl. I feel that our (Western contemporary ceramists) lineage of aesthetic was directly handed down to us via Bernard Leach and Leach's relationship with Hamada and his admiration for Japanese ceramics. I feel this particularly, due to my time working as a production potter in a studio very much of the Leach tradition. As an undergraduate student, I think that I would have been more excited about the Ninsei bowl. I think this because at that time i was very interested in the technical capabilities of ceramists. The question--"How did they do that?" was often one of my first when looking at ceramic work. As a graduate student, I feel that my aesthetic lineage is more and more apparent as I am able to focus energy on the analytical aspect of making more than the technical.

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