It wasn't until I was burned out, dizzy for three months and at the end of a grueling schedule that I finally said screw it I am am going to take ceramics classes here on the Mendocino coast. I need to get grounded and slow down, do something I've always wanted to and heal my short circuited brain. Once I started working with clay, I became obsessed. It happens that way for some people. We are called Clayheads. Some endorphin response happens when shaping lumps of earth into works of art, discoveries are made and thousands of years of genetic memory get switched on. The thread of global ancestry is illuminated, from the first artworks known, it continues to weave its way through our fingers, transformed into clay becoming new form from the inner and the ancient.
Then there's the deliciousness of transformation: soft moulded clay slumped, smoothed, squished into formations, which are then dried and fired into a hardened "bisqued" version. In this piece "Turkey Tail Man", I started out knowing one thing: I want to loosely shape a face. Once the personality came through and revealed a male, it was evident that he required turkey tail mushrooms to become his true self. In the above picture and video below you can see a stain I am using to bring out the details of the sculpture now it has been fired.
The piece will be fired again and the stain will be alchemized into the clay transforming the look into a finish. Carved within the face is an archetypal script I call sacred circuitry which is found in most of my ceramic work.
When I first start to inquire about returning to school, I walked into the foyer at Berkeley City College and was so overwhelmed, it took another year for me to go back. The first time I was going through a rough patch of my life. I was living in chronic pain, depression and grief whilst surviving an abusive relationship. I had sustained an injury during my career as a massage therapist and was feeling painfully incapacitated, combined with the toxic environment and the tunnel vision of depression, I could not see any way out. At times I was suicidal. I was living in the Bay Area at the time when renting something affordable was becoming impossible and the amount of homeless people seen on the streets growing daily. I started living in a state of fear, living with an unpredictable, violent man who had no problem putting his hands around my throat, throwing me down on the floor and leaving me with bruises or living on the street, unable to work with my disability. Who was this person? Throughout my life people had told me what a strong person I was, fearless even. I was no wallflower. Where was the warrior goddess who has already survived so much? During these dark days I really came to understand the crippling effects of depression and the burning sting of victim shaming. I learned a hell of a lot about domestic violence, how pointless going to court can be and how much work there is to do on a societal level.
One day, driving on the freeway, I saw a giant billboard which said; "Now offering Multimedia Arts at Berkeley City College". It was like an arrow piercing the fog of hopelessness and maybe a way for me to find my feet again. I talked with other friends who had gone back to college and shared with them how I was so overwhelmed the first time, I didn't think I could go back to school. When they explained that they had gone through a similar experience I didn't feel so stupid and with assistance started the first steps. I returned to college at the age of 37 and at that time it was a lifeline.
I have been in school now for five years. It turns out I am a good student. I was on the Dean's list last semester, I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa and The National Society of Leadership. I am on track to graduate this year and considering a variety of options. My overall goals are;
to facilitate art wellness practices for others, to research the therapeutic effects of ceramics and art journaling, to become proficient at visually communicating important environmental and scientific issues, to support and expand the crucial art of ecofeminism through education and focused art making, to continue to advocate for survivors of domestic violence. In addition I am learning to scuba dive with a goal of participating in coral restoration projects.
When I started on the journey of my college education, I did not know where it would lead me. I have so many interests both in art and environmental studies and now feel I am able to explore my full potential by staying the course. The most important change though, in all of this learning and enrichment, is the fact that I now believe I can do it and want to. As a result, I can encourage others to believe in themselves.
Musings about art and technology...
Art is the most holistic technology we have. Art encompasses the inner and outer realities, the inspiration and the idea, the creative process and the result. The results can be unlimited, unlike modern science which demands a negation of a hypothesis or pseudo science which seeks proof of a hypothesis. Art is a quantum technology and could use every technology ever known in it's unending evolution of expression as long as humans are around to be its subject. Art is a vehicle for the energy of life itself becoming manifest through the human experience and all it's ideas. Technology is the process of how ideas come to fruition through practical application. Technology is a gateway to the material expression of ideas. Technology can also be considered a form of science in the way that it has a documented history of ideas which have a self-feeding influence on society. The ability to make cave paintings to the advent of agrarian society, industry, space exploration and the integration of digital age in modern culture are all due to technology, but without the impulse of the creative spirit and its need for expression, technology would not exist.
The use of technology and art both come from the impulse to manipulate the physical world for the perceived betterment of human experience. Modern science prefers to measure it, finding expression through logic deduction in order to create. We evolve due to our ability to make art and create technologies. The scientific method is also a technology. Ultimately there is no need to dice them up as we are in an era now where the holistic utilization of interdisciplinary technology is needed for the betterment of humans and our relationship to our planet.