Sunday, September 26, 2010

When an Object Becomes More than an Object.

Beatrice Wood Pot, low fire with luster
Stuff, things, crap, treasures, icons.

There I laid soaking in a hot steamy deep bathtub trying to figure out the importance of objects again. A beautiful cool day, sun is beaming through the bathroom window and the vision of Beatrice Wood's golden goblet and tea bowl with her Dada figures dancing around the edge kept coming to mind.

Spiritual. Sunday morning. The golden work of Beatrice is the most spiritual object I can imagine.  It radiates golden light. I also remember the lighthearted figures dancing around another bowl creating the lighthearted free spirit feeling I have deep in my soul.

I remember as a child in a very conservative Lutheran Church in southern Indiana overhearing conversations about those threatening Catholics who worshiped idols.  There was the Mary thing and the statues, and crosses and rosaries, they felt were just so wrong in their opinions.  This was being said below their gold and white statue of the German looking Jesus with his open palms.
My hand, copied on a machine and made into a stamp with the journey symbol on my palm.

I remember  having a critique of my painting in Italy by a famous super realist.  He described me as an icon maker/artist.  And my feeling was "Of course, I make icons every day.  I am a potter and sculptor. What do you expect and what is wrong with that idea?  Choose an idea and make it sacred or at least special."

A beautiful teapot I spotted in a thrift store. Paid $18, worth $1600. Why? Famous maker.
My cash register only goes up to $1.90 and sometimes that is all I need.
Then there is the stuff dilemma. What about all this crap I have accumulated over 40 years.  Gee I really wanted it all at the time and now I have to separate through it just to see it.  Perhaps if I had my walls of my house completely loaded with adjustable shelving I could see it all.  Spread it out and stand back and look. When I lose something, which happens a lot,  I am amazed at what I find when I start digging in my house.  I am afraid a lot of my stuff owns me.  It holds me down.

But how to separate from my treasure and pass it on.  I don't think of myself as a very materialistic person.  Maybe it is a time thing.  Boring people have clean sparse houses. They do nothing but clean and watch TV and there you have it. The perfect unlived in looking house.  There must be balance in there somewhere. I usually don't have or want to make the time to sort.

Stuff. When is it important?  When does it become valuable?  How long will people hold on the beanie babies, even the defective ones thinking they are so special?  The craze was proof how everyone wants to find or own something that is valuable and special.  They tried to make that one happen.  Yes, somewhere we have a few beany babies in the basement.  I hope we bought them because my daughter liked them.  But, we still have them and she doesn't want them any more.
Pots I made for a wedding.  Now they are more than just vases.

A few months ago I went to two different lectures where objects were discussed. Ying Yang.  No Impact Man was all about the green philosophy to the extreme. Give it all up and see what you think to the extreme.   And then about a week later I heard a talk about Objects and Memory which discussed  the importance of things we own and our memories. I stood and asked a question at the end of the lecture expressing my confusion of the importance of objects.  What counts?  What is an important object?

One of the most debatable art objects I have seen. Who calls this art? A museum so it must be true?
Objects become important to me when I feel a deeper meaning associated with the object.  It may reflect another culture, or help me remember great travel experiences.  Good objects are usually well designed to do what they need to do.  Some of it is simple sentiment.  The family Bible my Mother gave me when I was little.  I wrote in it, "I will keep this always too."  There it is, in print, in heaven forbid, a Bible.  It is full of little treasures, clips, ribbons from my Brownie days some 50 years ago.  Crap to someone else, meaningful in some odd way to me.  And of course my first note from a boyfriend is in there as well. He could not spell.

My son tried to do me an unasked for favor recently. Bad idea.  He did not like the crowded office in my shop and decided to clean it for me even though I specifically asked him not to as I left town.  I came back to a mixed blessing.  Where is my little painted table for my phone?  Where are my two coffee pots I use for hot drinks at openings? My rolling rubber made cart I bought in a yard sale? What?  He had the nerve to write free on them and put them in a parking lot of a nearby restaurant. Not a good idea.  It was my stuff. A simple phone call and a what do I do with this would have made our relationship better.  Don't mess with other peoples objects.  You cannot tell which objects are important. 

Thousands of penny pieces of green candy made into art in a contemporary art museum in Fort Worth.

 Form follows function, the saying surfaces so often.  What is the function of all this stuff?  Does everything around me have to have a function? Boring!  How much is enough? Does the form meet the needs of the function?

It is part of our culture.  If you have ever traveled to another country or exotic place with a group, you know how we spend our time. Shopping and eating.  Mostly shopping.  Enough said.

 So there it is. Objects. Things. I'll keep thinking about it and hopefully will find the time to figure out what really is important sooner or later.  And there is always the "rotate it" idea.  That is my advice to customers who come in my shop and want something and have not more space or cannot justify it.   Meanwhile I will keep making stuff and hope somebody wants it.  I feel the urge to use lusters again to make it all glow.  I will leave behind literally thousands of pots.  What a big pile that would be if they were all in the back yard. It takes thousands of years for pottery to turn back to raw clay.  It will be a while before I "leave no footprint."

Undoubtedly a fine art object and a source of inspiration.  A friend owns this lovely Adelaide Robinaeux pot. I created many pots inspired by this one in my friend's studio.

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