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!!!

Honoring the Answer

There are times in everyones life that, looking back upon them, we can clearly delineate the “before” and “after” of who we are.  Events that shaped us, people that influenced us, nuances and subtleties that made us change directions without a moments hesitation.  It’s that profound shift, the “Aha” moment, that can leave us breathless, hopeful and full of life.  

Since returning from New Mexico, I have thought a lot about this.  Exactly what part could I look back upon and see where the shift occurred.  I have been undeniably changed by my time spent at Ghost Ranch and yet, incredibly more myself than I have ever been.  And still I ask the question…….”When and how did the shift occur?” 

While talking with a friend today, just by happenstance, I realized the answer. Something that stood by, gentle yet bold, subtle yet incredibly profound, just waiting for my attention. It was the massively, beautiful eroding landscape. It’s like nature took a paintbrush and a steady, gentle hand and removed the rough edges. The softness of color – where each layer of sediment and rock melded into the next without effort.  The fluidity of shape – either influenced by the sky, the light, the weather or the simple passing of time.

One of my greatest aspirations with my work is to remove the sharp, jagged edges.  To evoke an overwhelming sense of movement and gentility with each piece. To simply create something beautiful, without rhetoric but with a sense of kindness about it all.  I realized, with its subtle profundity, that the landscape eased my pace and helped me to finally understand that the rush to complete a creation is a massive disservice to my work and to the clay itself.  Nature didn’t rush the birth of the clay so who am I to tell it that it has to hurry up and be beautiful?

It is with this knowledge that my best work is still to come.  That with each passing piece, I can let go of the fear of finishing and just enjoy the moment of creation.  That no matter what, I will honor the pace of the clay and of the vision that flows through me. Once again, I bow in reverence to those that have come before me, knowing that with a clear heart and a steady hand, I will honor my art.

Heading Home

We packed all of our belongings and left Ghost Ranch today heading in different directions. I traveled to Denver with Lori and will be flying home to my beautiful mountains of North Carolina and to a wonderful man along three dogs that seem to have missed me almost as much as I missed them.  I don’t have many words to share this evening……..just a enormous amount of love and appreciation for all that I experienced the past three weeks.

I wanted you to see the faces of the people that helped this trip incredibly special.  I see the light in each one of these beautiful souls…….and I am blessed beyond measure❤

At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, what we look back upon will be the richness of our relationships.  How well did we love?  Did we make a difference in another’s life? Did we leave this place just a little better than we found it?  

Thank you all for following along with me on this magnificent journey.  I hope that in sharing this experience I was able to bring just a little joy to each and every one of you.

Love to you all❤

Straight to the Heart

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.”

  Cochise (“Like Ironweed”), Chiricahua Chief

Tonight was the final show at Ghost Ranch for the January Term.  All of the students presented their work and spoke about their process.  There were photographers, potters, writers, poets, beaders and archeologists.  Even though some of the kids were less than enthusiastic about the idea of being on a ranch for three weeks and all of the restrictions that it implies, they came together and were incredibly proud and creative in their final work.

They spoke straight and with great clarity, each one of them exposing their shared vulnerability.  The space was safe enough for each one of them to step into their own voice and share it.  Even if it was just for a moment, and their fear and uncertainty returns, they will remember what that freedom felt like.  They can call on it when they are in need of courage and strength for what the future may hold.  

I am walking away from this experience knowing that I have not only deepened my skills but have also found a place within me that needed to speak straight.  Not just to others in my life, but to myself.  My Life IS my Art.  Everything I do, everything I am deserves that level of light – the sunlight that goes straight to the heart.  

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 🙂
  

Well…….HELLO Learning Curve

In every artists life, failure and disappointment can be lurking around each risk we take.  One of the  best parts of  this evolution to me, is the thrill I get when I try something new.  Sometimes it works out…….other times I introduce myself to my next learning curve.

Today was the day of the big pit fire we have all been working towards for over two weeks.  The pieces were bisque fired and ready.  The  pit was built and slowly prepped for the stacking of the work. With this type of firing, no one ever knows which pieces will come through the fire more beautiful than when they went in and which pieces will become lessons for the future.

My lesson for today?  Losing four pieces to the fire……..my first lidded bean pot, two large wall carvings and a beautifully simple pot.  Did it hurt? Oh HELL YES.  Am I disappointed?  A little.  Will I do it again?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

I have spoken about frustration and fortitude before.  This is simply part of the learning curve.  I have been humbled by the fire once again and I can assure you it won’t be the last time.  

Clarence suggested that I take the pieces that didn’t make it through and place them around the ranch as a way of giving back. I took one of the broken pieces and walked to the Labyrinth, sitting it on one of the rocks with the mountains as a backdrop.  I have been given so many moments of clarity walking this path that I wanted to give a gift of gratitude back. I will place the other pieces in the coming days before I leave.  Although my heart hurt today, I realized that by doing this, part of me will always be here……..giving Thanks.

For the Love of Community

For the most part, I create in solitude.  Oh sure, there is an occasional “drive by loving” by one of my dogs or my husband, but in general I am left to my own devices.  After being introduced to the art of hand building pottery by the Worley Faver, a master potter in Florida, a lot of what I have achieved over the past eight years has been from the “fly by the seat of my pants” school.  Honestly, it has been my preferred way of learning.  The trail and error, the joy of success, the pain of setbacks, all have mostly been witnessed either alone or by my husband, who never fails to be kind and understanding. 

I was a little anxious, to say the least, to enter a three week workshop with another instructor and with even more trepidation, a room full of other students of the craft.  The noise, the commotion, the randomity……..all a backdrop for my concern.  

What has transpired over the last 10 days has been quite profound.  The one other student who is my age, is not only my roommate but has become a kindred spirit.  Along with her friendship and the stellar instruction of Clarence and his assistant Ricki, I have quickly understood the importance of community.  In addition to that beautiful band of misfits are a few other instructors and students who have come into the studio at night to touch clay and share space.  There is an ease of community that I simply didn’t expect.  A coming together of ideas, inspiration, trust and openness that I wasn’t aware that I even missed.

Being an artist can be a lonely road – lots of hours are spent alone in the studio, sometimes in a vacuum where we tend to ask the question…….”Does this suck?”  It has been a true blessing to be around these beautiful souls from different walks of life – authors, beaders, poets, potters, storytellers, jokesters, photographers, ranchers and yes, even those damn college kids.  What a wacky, wonderful, crazy community that I have walked into.

Below you will find my instructor, Clarence Cruz, master potter and resident funny man who happens to be wearing my very first hand built lid. He keeps us laughing and creating all day and sometimes into the night………..he is a true gift to the craft and to his students.  I am one incredibly lucky girl 🙂