I am welcoming in 2016 by looking back... way back to my college days (Graceland University). Specifically the days working in the ceramics studio. I created a small body of work that leaned against the idea that as a "potter/ceramicist" I was destined to make mugs and teapots. I didn't see anything wrong with creating this type of work, but I didn't like it to be assumed that this is who I was as an artist. So the worked referenced functional ceramic pieces, and had a metallic/machine fabrication aesthetic. I had big ideas for this work and where I would take it... However, I didn't really understand how to tackle these ideas, in order to make the body of work a reality. I got overwhelmed, and the ideas sat on the shelf.
Tea Pot Jams, made circa 2000
Fast forward to about this time last year (yes, fast forward... backwards)... I had been getting my hands back in clay. As I dipped my toes (well, fingers) back in the clay... I found myself leaning towards making simple tumblers. These items were something to use, and compliment my life in coffee. I had never seen my skill set matching up very well with those of a "production" potter, but there was something intriguing about tackling that notion... and turning it on its head.
Then, out of the blue... I was asked if I, "could make custom ceramic growlers". I had never thought about such a thing, and had no idea how to go about fulfilling that request... so I said, "yes, I think I can do that". I had also just recently made a challenge to myself to "try and fail" at as many things as possible. This meant, instead of shying away from things that I thought I could not do, or might not be good at... that I would GO FOR IT!!!
So... in the last few hours of 2015... I delivered growlers number: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 (out of 250 to be made). All were sold before the doors to Mare Island Brewing Co. was even open for business (and there was still a line of people who would have to wait for the next batch). The reason I write this post now, is to highlight the fact that these growlers are tied to that work from long ago. The work I was doing then is present now, both in aesthetic and concept. I had to lean into what I bucked against as a young college student... just now am I learning how to be myself. Letting the work flow out of me, and not simply just pushing against the box that others (or myself) might want to put me in. I can now look back at the patterns of my life, and see that the things people now often say that I am "good at"... are all things I was quite sure I could never excel at. What a wonderful thing it is to be proved wrong... and learn something new!
64 oz Growler for Mare Island Brewing Co. (2015)