A huge question in our lives is -
Why are we here? What are we supposed to do?
Art has always been a way to puzzle out some kind of answer. So, let’s start twisting the cube and see if we can line anything up.
I have spent a lot of time in the last two weeks trying to create ‘my story’ for the website and Etsy shop.* And in doing so I've entertained a few thoughts that loosely hang together ...
I understand that telling' my story' is important because it lends more meaning to the art work - It lets people enjoy the pieces on a more personal level, both emotionally and intellectually. We notice, for instance, that many products have a story these days – on the back of a carton of milk from Safeway we find a story about how this Lucerne product is from a dairy farm with a storied rustic past. Of course that's b.s.- still, you get the idea.
So, I have been wondering, not just how to tell my story - the story of the work - in a way that’s authentic, real, and invites involvement but also, I start wondering just what that story actually is. Why and how did I do what I did?
This is actually pretty difficult. Still, I remember when thinking about teaching - you have to get down to the kernel of the lesson and find just what matters. So, it’s probably important if I both tell it in a way that feels true to me - but cuts through the self indulgent crap.
Also, it's kind of culturally uncomfortable to celebrate yourself.
So I wondered, what would happen if I was writing about me as if I was someone else? What would happen if I could get some distance on the self and just look at the work? That might be kind of a Zen thing, right?
What do we remove by looking at self as other? Does it begin to remove a lot of the negative messages that have been programed into us about the sins of self-admiration? Things like - What makes your think you’re so special?
And my favorite – which was said to me in college when I dared to speak up for my due – “When you come on like a flint, you have to expect to make sparks!” I was, of course a girl, at a traditionally men’s’ university…. I was in danger of stepping out of my place! See, this is part of our education as to what 'should' frame our story...
What would happen if one could get rid of these submerged programed constraining beliefs?
I’ll ask you – What would you do differently if you didn’t feel the pressure of expectations and restraints that were learned in childhood? (This is not just a rhetorical question - I'd love to have you respond!)
I get lots of advertisements on my social media feeds from folks trying to sell self-help stuff, or teach me how to grow my art business – I guess the algorithms put these things on my feed – the dang A.I. is watching our every move.
I do know there are grains of truths in most of what is being hawked by these guys because they all have teasers so it's not hard to figure out the just of their content – the most consistent message is that the way you frame your perception defines your reality.
Which is, in fact, the core idea that drives the content of my art work – I am very interested in how we see and use patterns. What is the quality of ‘likeness'’ and how do like things create associations and meaning when we compare and contrast things, places, and events. How does the pattern of brush strokes create an image?
Now, I realize that it's best when talking about the art work to get away from the issue of self-worth entirely, and to look at the work as not-self – I am not my art work – My art work isn’t me. But it is something I do; it’s not somebody else in my studio, it is me - Still, it’s outside of me.
And I believe that's a fine thing. And it makes the 'story' easier to tell.
Right now, like some people I know, I am trying to focus on being thankful and grateful for what is created by my efforts. I can aspire without ambition... and let the bowls hold that gratitude and joy - and the wonderful conundrums of the universe.
Below are some pictures and the follow up to the asterisk.
*okay, I’ve actually done other stuff – some of which I won’t go into it, but you know the kind of stuff that takes up hella time. Also, I picked all the tomatoes before the rain and now I have to figure out what to do with thirteen pounds of green tomatoes.
But on the wonderful side, I had a couple of studio members pay a socially distanced visit and tidy up the yard around the studios. In return I will be firing some of their ceramic work as they get back to throwing clay.
A shout out to Megan Ellis and Jacob Engle. Yay you rock.
I am planning some videos in the next week of both painting and throwing - should be fun to share on my You Tube channel - it's Ahiedemanart and still has lots of teaching videos on it.
The new work should hit Etsy on Friday - I will send you advanced notice and a special coupon code for the fun sized ceramics! You can, of course, share the coupon code - and please share the newsletter so more people can join in
Hint - handmade ceramics make nice gifts and the Holidays are coming! Although celebrations might be virtual, gifts can be tangible.
The coupon for this month's 40% discount for what's currently in the Etsy Store is October.
Thank you. I am so grateful for your involvement in the Newton St. Studios. Again, feel free to forward to future members.
now as always,
P.S. I also redid my website ... which I suppose has to continue to change over time. I am open to suggestions. Link is bellow - it's the little chain symbol.
this section is devoted to what's on my mind - and reflections of the process of being an artist and blogging about it. - Ann Heideman