Friday, April 11, 2008

Post Thesis Defense: conversation and reflection

I had my thesis defense today. I have been in school for three years now. I feel that I have really begun to know my motivations for making ceramic work, political and otherwise. Much of my recent awareness has actually come from the web. I have found a whole community of like-minded folks thinking about the implications of making things by hand in todays' society.

When my faculty recently questioned my choice to leave school to go on to make pots for a living in addition to teaching I was really quite sad. I am so excited about what the craft world is up to lately, how supported I am by Etsy and my galleries already. American Craft magazine has revamped its look and is a really great magazine. I would love to participate in a dialogue about ways make folks see that being a functional potter can be smart, can be viable and is conceptual, political and much much more.

After I came across a recent conversation on Imogene's blog (that has me buzzing) I feel immensely better. There are heaps of other people out there trying to do the same thing I am and succeeding. I believe that I can go out there and make some damn good pots and get food on the table to boot--at least I am going to try. My choice to make pots is one that is in line with my choice to live in an alternative lifestyle to the norm. I want to be able to be as self-reliant as possible--grow my own food, build my own home, work with my hands to make things people need and desire...

Click here to read the blog entry by Imogene. There are over 125 responses that are inspiring and exciting to read--well worth wading through.


bridgmanpottery said...

Molly, when I was in grad school for art history, I had a friend who was getting his mfa in ceramics. The faculty in our grad review class was really hard on him for not pursuing sculpture vs his emphasis on functional ceramics. I loved his response- it has stuck with me and guides me in my own work. He said, "I want to make beautiful things for people to use every day," and that his skill and knowledge didn't have to be rarified, gallery-only work for the very few to appreciate. His work is affordable, he sells lots of it- and makes larger, gorgeous, still functional pieces that sell in galleries. He also teaches at a small college. Last time I saw him, he seemed more than fulfilled.
I think that you're doing the right thing- and your work is exquisite, and I enjoy using it.

Amy said...

Congratulations on your beautiful show! I wish I could have seen it in person. The images in the last post are great - I LOVE how you displayed your work and I am SO SO SO glad you are deciding to do what you love, live by your principles and make a living from it.

I was an Etsy admin for about 6 months and was in contact with a lot of Etsy's top sellers. I was totally inspired by all the people who were making their livings selling their work and cultivating really wide audiences - much wider, much more diverse in terms of class and other social and economic factors, than they would have been able to cultivate in the gallery system.

Classism plays such a big role in the "high art" vs, "low art" dialogue. Do you want your work available to a select few who can pay you a ton? Are you looking for patrons? Or do you want to make your work widely available to many people who can pay you less, and aren't considered as important an audience in some circles? And how does all the math work out at the end of the day?

I have been making similar decisions as you are - I left Etsy and started making a go of it making and selling my work full-time (after going to grad school for sculpture, with faculty who have advised me not to use my real name if I am selling work on the internet!). Its a blast. Its totally do-able. I'm not quite where I need to be financially yet but all signs are positive at the 3 month mark.

From that personal experience and from working at Etsy, I am COMPLETELY SURE that you WILL make a really good living making more pottery than you can imagine. Your work is excellent, unique, and just wonderful. You are going to rock it (and you ARE rocking it!)!

Amy said...

oh, BTW, that was me, wondercabinet posting above!

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