Sunday, December 30, 2007

What Class

The relationship of class to my work has become more apparent to me over the course of my time in graduate school, though I think that there is still much remaining to understand about whom I am making my work for.

My attraction to ceramics has habitually been through the usefulness of utilitarian objects. I love the inherent intimacy we have with pots, which makes them more approachable on so many levels. Everyone knows how to relate to a cup, everyone understands the basics of a cup, making cups a valuable and subversive place to put the drawings I was making as an undergraduate. It still is this ability of pots to slip into the home and our everyday lives that excites me in the making of my current work. I hope that the people using my pots are engaged with them in a way that makes life slow down a little. I think this is mostly because that is my favorite kind of experience with art—the kind that makes me pause for a moment.

When I left the Museum School, I went to work as a production potter for Miranda Thomas. At that time, I had very romantic notions of being a full time potter and what that lifestyle was, ironically based on Bernard Leach’s presentation of the socially significant potential of the potter in his book titled: A Potter’s Book. The irony lay in that I was, unknown to me, about to work as a “master potter” under the tutelage of Miranda Thomas and Ara Cardew, both having studied (or grown up with) Michael Cardew who was one of Bernard Leach’s first apprentices at St. Ives in Cornwall, England. It was the Leach Cardew heritage at my new job that excited me, but almost immediately I realized that the unknown potter actually kind of has to be known and marketing themselves to make a living. And a sort of pathetic living at that, considering the enormous amount of labor involved in production.

At the moment, my work is affordable to a middle class, though I imagine that it is more affordable to the upper classes. I find that I personally am interested in purchasing work form other potters, despite my lack of income. I feel confident in stating that that is rare and unusual in the grand scheme of things. In the past, I have wanted my work to be for anyone and everyone. More recently, I have come to understand that there is a certain romance for me with upper class society and what I perceive as a somewhat more leisurely lifestyle. I find that I am secretly excited by the fact that my pots (which I think of as representative of me, as born of me) are living in this class that, in some ways, I socially aspire to.

I am interested in how teaching and a salary will help me be more confident in my relationship to class. In many ways, I feel that it would be the right thing to do to make my work affordable to anyone and everyone, but I also know that I probably wont ever make that choice…

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