My passion for drawing and art in general carried into my college years, when my drawings and designs became more distinctively my own.
With a Bachelors in English, I spent the next fifteen years teaching that subject, in addition to some art classes to high school students. I also enrolled in a series of college art classes in preparation for applying for a Masters’ Program. In those I explored all media. So yes, I spent hours and all-nighters working with watercolor, in design classes, with sculpture classes…and finally… finally…my hands touched clay! It was magic. The potential of this material to transform into something useful and beautiful spoke to everything I understood art to be about.
My first clay class in hand building introduced me to the painful reality that it is better to destroy a poorly done piece while still workable than have it fired and be part of the history of humanity forever…and we were strongly encouraged to do just that. The following summer, I spent eight hours a day, five days a week for six weeks to develop a modicum of proficiency on the wheel.
With acceptance into the MFA program at the Catholic University of America in D.C. came more summers exploring diverse media, but always with most of the time in the clay studio. My thesis show consisted of all sculptural ceramic wall works, one 8’x5’ destined for Neumann College which just happened to be expanding and was happy to have a work from one of their graduates to permanently install in the new building. My art trajectory was set.
All the years that followed proved tremendously productive, teaching art in formal classroom settings from pre-K to college, offering workshops from my studio, establishing community arts events and galleries, as well as creating my own sculptural work, both for commissions and personally imaginative creations. Those years were energized and energizing.
For nearly 30 years now, I have worked solely from my studio, Earthsongs. It was initially a very scary jump from the security of the formal classroom to my own enterprise, but I found it a useful springboard to create many community-based arts endeavors. At this point, with all of the experience, connections and collaborations behind me, I now feel I have come to a moment of centering both in myself and in the medium, called to explore clay as my primary communication and interaction with the world. My images and objects now are my primary engagement with society, and I delight in this new reality.
The Holidays celebrated at this time of year find nearly everyone tapping into her/ his inner artist. No matter the tradition, creativity flows:
But I have seen the creative spirit alive many-fold this year in efforts to compensate for our quarantine. The ever-fun, “Ugly-Christmas-Sweater”party to raise funds for a good cause was replaced in one instance with cookies decorated to rival Ugly-Christmas-Sweaters.
Some families have revived the age-old craft of cutting paper snowflakes. It seems there are multiple places to visit online to get you started. Someone suggested this to be an especially good one.
I personally delight in being part of the creative swirl as soon as the Calendar flips to December. Much of what the Studio presents at this time of year is very different from my usual focus and allows my work to add to the treasured traditions for many families.
Which is why I found it so wonderful that Papillion was willing to host Earthsongs’ Winter Market Faire, my annual Open Studio. To be able to actively participate in the season in a safe way was a real stroke of luck for which I continue to be grateful…a new, creative solution!
So while I miss terribly all of the many gatherings, performances, and events that have come to mark this season for us, I invite all to join me in this festive time of heightened creativity to apply that creative spirit in a new way to the season’s celebrations during this very unique ‘time out of time’ year.
We are created to create, to leave the familiar, to cross thresholds and give birth to bold new ideas. We are invited to the borderlands of the known, to imagine a new earth healed not scorched, rested not exploited, and regenerated by human ingenuity and innovation. —Tom Gunning
The very day last month that claysongs.com went live and introduced the Porta Caeli to the world, quite unexpectedly I received a small paperback publication that included a series of essays identifying this current time/space moment as “Liminal Space,” in other words, a time in-between or a Portal before we enter the next space.
Now, having spent six months focused on creating just that…a Portal…I was rather blown away. All of those writings presented this as a time/space experience of Threshold…life is not what it was before, but we don’t yet know how it’s going to be.
Creating for me is always a spiritual experience, but never has my work linked so thoroughly and serendipitously to a deeply spiritual moment involving the entire planet. The Porta Caeli, as Nino baptized it, had been in my mind for many years, but only now in 2020 was it able to be brought to life and so become an apt symbol for our experience.
Interestingly in Tibet, there is no word for creativity because for the people of that culture, the very fact of being human is to be creative. And so for the maker, the one who creates, and that is all of us, liminal time is essential. It makes us see things differently; forces us to let go of what was, and hence is crucial to the creative process.
This is undeniably a moment of transition…the very thing a Portal proclaims…a space of demarcation. Anxiety and unsettledness permeate everything; all is mystery. Despite that, Liminal space is a place of power where we learn to let go so that we can genuinely embrace and shape what is to come.
In Liminal Time/Space, we sit on the Threshold and be with the mystery.
The Portal becomes an object that both beckons and protects; it invites us to acknowledge that a transition is taking place and calls us to tarry rather than rush through, to accept our vulnerability and not simply re-clothe ourselves in garments that no longer fit.
This is a time that is not a time A place that is not a place ...between the worlds...
including ideas shared by Tom Gunning, Felicia Murrell, Brandan J. Robertson