Friday, January 31, 2014

"Copying puts God to sleep"

In January & February I try to find time to experiment with new ideas.  Unfortunately, these last few years I haven't been able to devote as much time as I would like to this process.  I admire potters I know who have been part of mentorship programs where the artists embark on explorations which are developed with the input of critiques from their peers and their mentor.  A recent exhibit I attended at the end of one such mentorship program demonstrated the results of artists who had stretched themselves, looked at their work with a critical eye, and put in the hours to pursue their vision.

So, despite not having huge chunks of time--nor a group of ready peers to critique my work while in process, I thought I'd give myself a wee challenge in the time available to me.  I love using bowls of all sizes, and I make plenty over the course of a year, but I thought I'd try some new shapes, sizes, foot trimming, hopefully even new glazes, although I haven't gotten there yet.

The title of this post, "copying puts God to sleep" was prominently painted over the entrance to a gallery outside of Nairobi which we used to frequent when we lived there.  We had plenty of vigorous discussions with Elimo, the owner, about the perils of copying, among other things.  I was thinking of that when I chose a few bowls I had in my cupboard, took them to the studio, and...well, copied them.  Except when you use a form or an idea as a starting off point, it really is just that, isn't it?  A starting point that hopefully takes you somewhere else.

Anyhow, below are a few photos of some of the bowls I've been working on.  The black one is a coiled and burnished traditional bowl from Ethiopia.  I love the low-slung shape, the foot and the handle-like attachments.  I intend to explore this form in a larger size next.

The more traditional soup bowls have a different foot profile than I'm used to.  I like the way it separates the bowl from the foot and creates a mini pedestal.