From the holistic perspective art is about a lot of things. If we voyage into the advanced studies arena of art and academia or the art world in general we really have to believe in ourselves and the conviction of our work. This becomes a precarious position as we receive critique and popular opinion about our place in that world from the hierarchy in place whether teacher/student or those in positions of power denying or supporting the very personal work of the artist. This is a mirror of other hierarchical systems in society like those in the medical field, the financial, the political and the various imbalances and injustices that result. So how then can art making help us with our own ability for self-advocacy? Our art is about our voice, our perspective, a personal language that only we can create. It is about deciding that that voice has a value not governed by the art market or really anyone else's taste and opinion but about its ability to be authentically expressed, felt and seen. It's about the decisions we make in the process that empower our own aesthetic and instinct. In a world where we might have to self-advocate for appropriate medical care, basic human rights and safety, can we use our art making to hone this skill that isn't taught and often seen as a defiant stance by those in positions of power? Can we teach others to self-advocate using art?
One of the things that I find so enriching about having an art practice, is being around others who are also passionate about making and learning. The past couple of weekends I was part of a ceramics pit fire on the beach. Something I had wanted to do since living in coastal California. Being able to safely have a fire was also quite special. There is something so ancient and connecting about gathering around a fire with others. Firing ceramics in a live fire adds another layer of ancestry to the process.
There's quite a bit of prep that goes into it from making sure the fire is permitted in the location, no birds are nesting, the size of the fire (30 cm diameter max on Humboldt beaches), shlepping kindling, supplies, pots, food etc.. down to the site, drying out the sand with a pre-fire and making a bed of coals to lay the pots on, gathering wood to keep the fire going for several hours, making sure the fire is protected from too much off shore wind... We mostly brought bisque, high fire vessels that would have a better chance of surviving the process. We gathered feathers and seaweed, brought copper mesh and wire to wrap around some pots and in some cases wrapped them in foil. All of these things can be used to make marks on the pieces when exposed to the fire or pots just pulled from he fire.
What I love most about the process is the surprise at the end of the burn. After the ritual of setting it all up, once we add our pieces, we relinquish all control and let the fire and the elements do their magic. We all take turns to keep the fire going. We share stories, food and silliness, admire the birds and the ocean. Sometimes things break, sometimes they get lost in the embers but mostly it's like pulling out treasures from some other era long ago.