The Finish Line………sort of

It’s been almost a year since I decided to “climb that tree and venture out onto that limb” by registering for a three week stay at Ghost Ranch in Abuiqui, New Mexico.  With a much needed grant and a surprising emerging artist award, I was able to fund my trip and relax into the exploration of my artistic boundaries.  I had no idea how my experiences would influence or inform my work.  All I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, is that it would.  

Fast forward to today.  I just returned from delivering 24 new vessels, 3 wall sculptures and 13 pendants to The Gallery at Flat Rock, located in Flat Rock, North Carolina.  My one person show, “Sacred Ground, Bringing New Mexico Home”, opens on Friday, July 14th.  All of these pieces have been inspired by my trip – most of them created using micaceous clay which is indigenous to New Mexico. 

There is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and sadness in the completion of this grand adventure.  I have been so ensconced in the flow of the work, the evolution of my artistic voice and wanting to make those that believed in me proud.  It filled every waking, and most sleeping moments.  I have had revelations and disappointments, moments of “creative” orgasms and periods of obstacles that are all part of the process.  What I can tell you, unequivocally, is that it was all worth it.

I have learned more, pushed through fixed conditions, ventured into almost every “what if” moment with action and determination.  Did I make worthy art?  Did I do clay proud?  Honestly……..I have no idea.  That really isn’t for me to say.  What I do know is that, to this point in my life, given all that I am, I did my very best.  And that, my dear friends, is enough ❤️

Please visit my website for more information on the upcoming show and artist talk – http://www.lucyclarkpottery.com

The next adventure awaits!!!

More……and Less

If you have read any of my posts since I have been staying at Ghost Ranch these past two and a half weeks, you will quickly realize that my trip was not just about studying a new way to create within my medium of clay.  I had many things back logged in the “I’ll think about that later” file.  

The act of daily living can take up a lot of time.  Moments of slowing down, breathing and introspection can easily be cast aside when there is internal resistance. I am a self admitted “Do-aholic”.  Having a big giant to do list is a perfect excuse to avoid the big questions. However, while being away from my routine, I have been made more vulnerable to my need for clarity.  

Today, I realized that I have been giving myself away to other peoples problems, causes and emotions. My intention has always been to be of service to others.  Believe me, I find great joy in this; however, in doing too much of this, I have sacrificed my creative abilities and have struggled with my own evolution as a person and as an artist.  This act of self disregard is not a good move if you want your Muse to stick around.

It is my sole responsibility how much of me I give away – no one else has to carry the burden of this little nugget.  Now – here’s the other, more wonderful part…….I get to choose who, what, when, how much and for how long.  You see, we are all in the drivers seat when it comes to our gifts.  It’s ok to keep some for ourselves – it truly is.  When we keep a little of our own goodness, just for us, it actually creates more goodness to go around!  

I also realized that in working through my grief of yesterdays pieces lost to the fire, I failed to honor and give love to those that did.  Below is a photo of one of my favorites.  The mica, the heat and the smoke made her shine like the night sky 🙂
  

Honoring our Story

Tonight, in an open forum, the faculty of the January term  were each asked to answer one question – how their story informed their creativity and inspiration.  Some of their stories were incredibly poignant, some sacred and others were laced with wit and humor.  In listening to them, I realized that I have not honored mine – at least not completely.

My mother was one of the most creative people I have ever known.  She came from a long line of Italian tailors, being taught by her mother.  Her skill with a needle and thread was masterful.  Although I could never find a love for the craft, she never ceased to amaze me at what she could create. I know that the dedication that I have for clay can be partially attributed to her.

We also endured a very difficult relationship.  My mom struggled with many hardships in her life and though I had great compassion for her, there came a time where I couldn’t be the recipient of the fall out.  I simply ran out of understanding. I felt a great need to protect myself from the pain, and in doing so, created great distance as a way to save my heart. Since her passing  over 8 years ago, it has taken a lot of time and thought to get to a point where I could not only forgive her but also forgive myself.

As I sit here tonight, I want to let her know just how thankful I am for every single gift she gave me. The hardships, the pain, the creativity, the determination, all of them.  Without those events in my life, I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude and passion for the creativity that resides deep within me.  Through these events, I have become clear about my purpose and my path.  No blame, no excuses, just a deep sense of gratitude for the story she told.

Thank you, Mom.  Safe passage on your journey home ❤

 

What Matters Most

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time that it will take to accomplish it.  The time will pass anyway.”  Earl Nightingale.

Every time I have a set back in the studio I think of this quote.  I have, in this life, struggled with enjoying the journey, barreling through a project just to make it to the finish line and then proceed to look around and ask, “What’s next?”  The joy was left behind along with the excitement of discovery and the unexpected gifts along the way.  This, more than anything else, has been a recipe for burnout and disappointment for me.

What I have realized is that none of this will ever be finished!  All of it is a process and an evolution.  What matters most is the amount of joy we have in our lives during the process.  To withhold these ethereal emotions is  like saying to ourselves that we don’t deserve it, we aren’t worthy.  Don’t believe it……..it isn’t true.  

I am learning a new way to see clay and through that lens, to see myself.  A passion for progress in skill should not be a substitute for refinement.  They can coincide within the same frame work – passion can feed the beauty of refinement.  The “hurry” doesn’t need to outpace the “wisdom.”

The Essence of the Earth

I have never processed my own clay.  Until this point, I have opened a fresh 25 lb., bag of earthenware, stuck my head deep inside to inhale its magic and started creating.  

Today was the day where that changed. We had an appointment with the earth – it was time to process the clay and dirt that we had dug a few days ago.  It was time for us to honor our commitment and make something wonderful from the gifts we had been given.  We swirled the muddy water with our hands, digging in deep and releasing the rocks, twigs and plant material from the clay.  We poured it through sieves, capturing more unwanted earthiness until all that was left was a muddy water concoction that will eventually reveal fine, silky micaceous clay.

Afterwards, as I was reveling in all that masterful muddiness, I realized that we humans, if we are dedicated and deiligent, do that as well.  If we are to live lives of honor, truthfulness and integrity, we too, must dig deep, examine our dark corners, our rough edges, and slowly release the grog from the gift.  What was so amazing to me today, was after sifting through all of the “debris”, the underlying and hidden bits of Mica were everywhere.  Even in the grog, there were shiny, sparkly bits of life that was offered up.  It is up to each one of us to see the beauty that is just waiting to behold.

My hands reveal my story…….

A Day to Remember

One of my first artist crushes, Georgia O’Keefe, has never failed to inspire me.  When I’m blocked or low, all I have to do is look through images of her work, getting lost in the pattern and color, and I am made whole again.  

I came across a workshop which is being held on her ranch – a place where she lived and was inspired by the landscape for decades.  Somehow, I knew I had to go. I lost sleep over it, going back and forth about how we were going to pay for it.  I beat myself up internally, questioning myself over whether leaving my home, my husband and my three fur babies for three weeks wasn’t incredibly selfish.  My husband, always my most ardent supporter, didn’t hesitate for a second.  When I asked his opinion, he simply said, “You should do that.”  Score a big ol’ brownie point for that man!

I decided to see if the way would open up for me.  I went ahead and registered for the class – mostly as a leap of faith.  I said “Here I am, this is what I want for my Life, now help me achieve it.”  Well, I won’t make this long winded.  I received at grant from the Regional Arts Grant Program in my region of North Carolina.  One of the Directors, Patty Smyers, from the Arts Council of Henderson County, through no knowledge of my own, handed my portfolio over to The Community Foundation of Henderson County.  They, after much deliberation, presented me with The Betty Taylor Award, which is for emerging artists who are furthering their education.  The proceeds of both of these awards, pays for my trip as well as a portion of a pit fire kiln that I want to build.

Fast forward to today………I am in Santa Fe, having arrived a few hours ago.  Tomorrow, I will be headed to the ranch for three weeks to immerse myself in all things Pueblo pottery.  From digging our own clay and preparing it, to hand building, yucca brush work, burnishing and firing.  It’s a three week wonderland for this girl and a true gift.  I plan on squeezing every last drop of goodness from this experience – as well as a few green chile enchiladas 🙂 I am excited to see where this takes me.  I hope you will follow me on this journey – this truly is a gift – and I want to share with those of you who have followed me tirelessly, supporting me with your kind words and actions.  My ardent desire, is to create something new, listen quietly to what it wants and do the clay “proud”.

Traits Unresolved………

Today………I came in direct contact with my past. Mostly, I tend to live in a fairy land of my own creation.  I am so ensconced in my own idea of my life and all of the wonderful people that I have chosen to surround myself with that I occasionally forget that not everyone is as open and welcoming as I give them credit for. 

But today……..Today was a day to meet up with my past.  I have known some very dark individuals – we all have. But in the past few years, I have made a great effort to surround myself with others that bring light, shed light and hold the light when I find myself less than bright. It’s a conscious choice to support and care for one another; in wanting the greatest good to come through, in myself, my loved ones and the world in general.  Yes, I have been accused of wearing rose colored glasses and not being in touch with reality.  But, I ask you, who’s reality are we talking about?  It’s so damn easy to play the bottom third of life………struggle, survival, competition and strife.  Is that the reality I fail to grasp?  Or is it the reality that if someone else is miserable they will do what they can to make you miserable, too?

The latter is what I confronted today.  Art and control never make good bedfellows.  In creating a space, another artist needed to control everyone else’s. Their attempt to do this not only destroyed the creative process but has made their creation have less life.  In actuality, they have become a destructive and controlling force which is in direct opposition to creativity!!  In that, there is suffering…….for all concerned.  

I walked away realizing that this person must have an enormous amount of internal destruction going on and the best thing that I could do was to hold them in the light and walk away from their darkness……..quickly.  In the past, I would have tried to fix them, risen up against them or realized that, because they were so forceful that they must be right.  Well, that is not part of the past that I choose to repeat.

Art grows when we let it flow.