So, let's talk for a moment about how great the West Austin Studio Tour was. Or at the very least, let's talk about how much I enjoyed being in some small way involved in it.
Clayways Pottery Studio and Gallery was on the tour stop list, and all of the studio renters participated by dressing up their private studios, opening up their privacy curtains and inviting the local community into their spaces to talk clay, art, aesthetic and more. As some visitors shopped in the gallery, others observed pottery demos by our local potter community, took tours of the facility to see the tools involved in the process and connected with the potter community that works within the ClayWays walls and throughout Austin, Texas.
I don't normally participate in events or shows like these. With just about five years of pottery experience under my belt, I feel a bit like a kid trying to invite her to her parents' dinner party. That gives me a fair amount of insecurity about sharing my pieces in "meat space" versus the soothing anonymity of the Internet. Despite that, I brought in some of my work for the event as I was reminded by those near and dear to me that you have to start somewhere.
As my Mom arranged items on shelf, I realized that this is a part of the artistic process. To receive feedback and to experience people as they experience your work. It was nice to field questions about glazes and techniques. It was nice to learn from other potters featuring their work. It was nice to finally acknowledge (to myself) that this is far more than a hobby. It's a craft that has taught me some important things about myself. It's an outlet for all the things I would normally keep tucked away inside. It's another way for me to connect with the greater world around me, besides my career. And there is so much more for me to learn. As other potters shared their first experiences with me, it was important to note that everyone's aesthetic evolves over time. The forms you throw as well as the accents and nuances will change. And they should. They are the markers of your own personal evolution. These are not things to be hidden, but to be celebrated as you entire body of work.
That gave me a new appreciation for what events like this bring to the artist. So often with work and other things, I get lost in my own head. Internalizing everything so much that I occasionally forget to look up and engage the people observing or seeking to be involved in whatever journey I am on. Watching my mother aligning my work and participating with excitement reminded me of the enjoyment that others can have participating in something that is important to you. It is all reflection. Mirroring. Feedback. Validation.
On Sunday, I visited with a few friends that came by to visit the studio. I received great feedback from artists I really admire. That included some finger-wagging admonishment about "hiding my light under a bushel basket." But by that time, the benefit and the meaning behind the words had already set in. I got the message loud and clear. By the end of Sunday evening, as we cleaned up our studio spaces and put things back in working order, you could feel the presence of all the good energy that moved through every inch of the building. That is the benefit of participating in shows and sales and open houses and workshops. When people congregate for the love of artistic expression, there is something magical that happens. Energy is transformed, problems and worries are forgotten. There is a communion of spirit centered around a critical human need. The need to create.
I'm looking forward to the tour next year and to filling my calendar with other events like it. Check out these great images of other installations and studios participating in the tour from Culturemap Austin.