grad school is hard.

as i was biking home tonight i was thinking that maybe happiness and contentment have some pretty significant connection to the feeling of wanting to be where you are.  i mean, looking back on life, there have been times and places that felt so right, and others that took some adjustment.  some things just never panned out.  i’ve definitely struggled with feeling totally at home or connected in this town since i arrived.  i guess there’s always a bit of an adjustment.  ups and downs, that settle (eventually?) (hopefully?) into and upward trajectory.  but what about when you don’t seem to adjust?  even before i was on this ceramic artist track i was pretty nomadic, so i’ve rarely been settled in one place long enough to really come face to face with overcoming disconnection.  until now.

i was just thinking that, when things don’t seem to feel right, when you find yourself procrastinating more than you are being productive, it’s not because you are a terrible person/artist and lack any discipline, right?  perhaps it is because of the totally human reaction to discomfort and disconnection—>avoidance.

i definitely don’t mean “place” entirely in a physical sense.  where we are is definitely a mental state too.  and since we can’t always choose where we are, or how long we’ll be there, maybe we naturally cultivate acceptance and excitement about how to move forward.  unless we don’t.  i mean, sometimes my reptile brain just takes over and avoids and it’s only when things get bigger (i.e. finding yourself avoiding making work a.k.a. your favorite thing in the world to do) that you have to take a step back and evaluate.

ok, so it’s fine.  despite all the positives, benefits, and amazing people around me in this time and place, i’m finding myself not feeling it.  this is normal-ish.  and as a flawed, awesome, multi-faceted individual i can call upon my strengths to move forward and embrace this unique experience i’m having.

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a more realistic day in the studio.

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just a few things to get done.  no big.

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i’ll just knock some important computer work out of the way.

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and read a few books on professional practices, technique and conceptual development. they didn’t just sit there in a pile.  that would be crazy.

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i drew some….i just used invisible ink.

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my work table was sagging under the weight of all my productivity.

 

in my imagination anyway.

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wow, after a day like that i’m gonig to need an additional ware cart.

not.

christmas?

some of the work i was pleased with from the last firing.  this work was heavily influenced by my summer in japan and further informed by the amazing workshop by bryan hopkins that i was lucky enough to assist with this summer at arrowmont.

shigaraki peops: meaghan gates and yumie shukuya

2 three month residents are finishing up.  they both mounted amazing exhibitions last week.  meaghan gates, an artist from california just finished her undergrad at chico state and came to shigaraki as part of a trip funded by the presigious windgate grant she received last year.  before coming to shigaraki she spent a month at a pottery in seto, japan and after she leaves next week she will go to san bao, china for a month.

yumie shukuya is from the gumna prefecture but lives in tokyo.  she recently graduated from tama university, one of the top tier programs for art in japan, where she studied sculpture.

both artists went to undergrads that nurtured conceptual sculpture  thought they both use the wheel in some areas of their work.  the also both make work that falls beneath the umbrella of biomorphic abstraction.  meaghan uses the wheel, almost exclusively, to creae repeated  shapes that she brings together into complex organic compositions.  Some are particular abstract, others evoke more recognizable animal forms such as fowl or mammals which the artist calls comforting.

yumie’s sculptures begin from the idea of a flower, which she sees as a stand in for the human body.  she uses molds to create base forms which she alters and adds onto.  her glazes push the flower-like qualities forward, with thick feldspathic nodules that sit on top of the form like button mushrooms or crawl off the clay body leaving what looks like a naturally occurring pattern.  she also employs variegated glaze colors that bring to mind orchid or hellebore petals.  these colors are echoed in the ink washes she applies canvases which are set behind the installed work.


i’m really thrilled i got to work with these artists this month and see their shows go up.

progress

the last week has been kind of bananas.  last friday i had pretty much run out of clay and took the opportunity to go to the clay store and get more, thinking i had another week of building ahead.  that afternoon we had the monthly kiln meeting and i realized i had more like 3 days left.  yikes!

wall collection.

i have amassed a pretty good collection of wall pieces for the installation i will mount before the end of my stay.  i am using a mixture of local clays, both a smooth white and black shigaraki clay and a black clay with the ubiquitous feldspar inclusions.  i am also using (sparingly) arita porcelain from kyushu.

tiny black and white trade pieces.

i have organized a mini- trade with the other residents.  these are my little guys.  see that fake grass under them?  i found a whole case of 12″ x 12″ squares of it in the dumpster and might try to use it for something….

soon to be floor pieces.

floor pieces drying.

lightweight templates.

middle floor piece.

working here the last couple of weeks has been awesome!  i love that all i have to do everyday is just eat, sleep and work.  and being able to wake up and walk right to my studio pretty much rules.

i have been able to put everything else out of my mind and i’ve even had time to do some cooking.  sometimes the residents get together to cook and eat.  i invited everyone to share some nabe one evening and the other night everyone cooked something and shared, kind of like a potlock.

yumie working on her dish.

nabe night.

kimchi nabe.

potluck!

ok, maybe not everything else.  i keep having dreams in which my kitties wonder off.  it’s so weird.  during the day i think “this is so wonderful i hope i can come back and stay longer some day” and at night my brain feels guilty or something.  miss those little nerds:(

violet and junior.

residency time.

yesterday i arrived in shigaraki japan where i will do a one month residency at the shigaraki ceramic cultural park.

after taking the shinkensen from tokyo to kyoto, i transferred to a local train and then to two buses.  the bus ride was long and curvy, so i wanted to vomit a little but was eventually distracted by the amazing view out the window.

my view had been particularly beautiful for a good deal of my journey but soon after boarding the second bus i was literally awestruck.  i am sure that these pictures, taken from my phone, through a rainy window, while the bus barreled upwards and around curves don’t do the scenery justice but my chin was on the floor.  this might be the most breathtaking place i’ve ever been.

mountains! trees!

clouds

 

once i arrived at shigaraki, i was shown my room, introduced to the staff and several residents and taken to the grocery store to get provisions.

i unpacked my stuff, wondered around a little and in the evening there was a little welcome party.  one of the women here is from the gunma prefecture and had several types of pork from her family’s farm.

meat! from kumie’s famliy.

amazing spread.

this morning i woke up early and met with the staff to discuss my clay needs.

serious business.

then we went off to the clay store, where i purchased some black clay, which you can see (ish) in the test tiles above.

everything everyone has said is completely true.  it was totally overwhelming choosing clay.  i haven’t been to the tool store yet but i’m planning to be blown away.

i’m really into the fact that there are entire stores dedicated to clay.

anyway, finally back to the studio and getting to work:)