This weekend, I spent more time in the studio than I have in probably several months. I went in on Saturday for a meeting regarding a non-profit program the studio director has been working to get launched aggressively over the past year.
After that, I checked the kilns and shelves for works in progress that could be completed. When it's time to glaze, I admit that I come in with no plan in place for my pieces. I usually sit them on the table...and wait for them to tell me what they want to be. I'm a notoriously safe glazer, opting for one primary color and maybe some small forays into texture and emphasis using iron oxides or latex for separation.
This saturday, I was lucky to run into one of my favorite pottery pals catching up on glazing too. Dave is my informal glaze muse. He is a true organic potter who brings beautiful simple pieces to life with a vivid imagination. Much like a mischievous kid, Dave makes daring moves that always result in breathtaking work. It's always a treat to share a glaze table with him because I know the work he dares me to do will always result in some of my more memorable glaze work.
While we weighed the options and effects of bringing together egyptian blue with sullivans red and patiently applied iron oxides to our respective pieces, we caught up on life, politics and community.
We're both transient Texans. He is originally from South Africa, where he was raised and lived until about twenty years ago. We take our delight in being blue in a mostly red state, and Dave brings an incredible perspective on Americans from a different lens.
It is amazing that in a country as rich with resources and tools and outlets for learning and cultural enhancement, we still get stuck on very limited forms of leisure and enlightenment. I mentioned to him that I've been impressed consistently with the education and awareness children in other countries have about not just their local community, but the greater world around them. In the U.K., I was stunned to interact with children who could speak very comfortably about the structure and challenges within American government and and other nations. The notion of ugly Americans is thrust in your face the moment you leave American soil. As much as I love Texas, I sometimes marvel at the irony of such a large state having such a limited view of so many things. When debating topics like health care, foreign policy and commerce, whether blue or red or purple or green...we immediately conclude that no other government or ideology could possibly be more progressive than ours. In fact, we're allergic to the very sentiment of progression. At least...from a 30,000 foot view, that is our belief. Because we rarely investigate any further than that.
This isn't a remark about conservative or liberal. It's beyond political belief or expression. It's simple curiousity. If it isn't football, food or keeping up with the Joneses, we're mostly bored with learning anything beyond our immediate line of vision. If we're not fiercely defending our own defensiveness, we're feeding our own malaise by masticating the same old food for thought over and over again. Much like my lazy glazing, we get caught up in the "I can't be bothereds." It's too: a) time consumming, b) involved, c) overwhelming.
I don't enjoy an unadventurous life. I don't see how anyone could. As I take note of the incredible creative and intellectual minds that are around us all, it reminds me that no learning or growth anything significant comes from staying in one lane. There world is as big or as small as our minds comprehend. You can travel the farthest reaches of it simply by having a little nerve and a lot of curiosity. You can travel through hundreds of years just by opening a book.
I might have made a mess in the studio this weekend, but something tells me I will have discovered something incredible, too.