Confused Past, “I AM” Present

So many things have changed in my life since my last post. I would just like to re-introduce myself and say welcome to my blog!

I’ll start with my history in clay. I learned clay at Indiana University Southeast, under the excellent mentorship of John Guenther. I finished my degree in Fine Arts (concentrating in ceramics), planning to go on to complete an MFA – required to teach ceramics at the college level. That was my ultimate goal, being a college professor, just like my dear teacher.

I loved spending every waking moment in the studio. As such, I developed strong relationships with my peers. I loved becoming the go-to person in the studio. I loved mentoring. I loved my clay family. I loved building and firing kilns as well as formulating glazes. So… a part of me wishes I didn’t have to graduate!!

But graduate I did. I went on to the MFA program at the University of Memphis. It was such a culture shock! As the only graduate clay person, with NO clay peers, and no structure or order, I think the idea is that I would come in and reshape the place. But it seemed openly hostile. My new professor confirmed it when she admitted to me that the other arts professors had made bets that I wouldn’t last a year. At first I rose to the challenge, but the joy was gone, and with my parents’ health problems threatening their ability to support themselves, I had more reason to leave than to stay. So I left and returned home.

I made a half-hearted attempt at returning to IUS as an independent study student, but my way forward was no longer clear. I felt like an outsider. And I needed to figure out what to do for a career. I soon dropped out of clay altogether, feeling a failure. I wouldn’t touch clay for the next decade. I turned to developing the computer programming skills that I had mostly self-taught on the side while in college. I went on to develop websites, then web applications and mobile apps, databases, etc.

Having built my career, I suddenly wanted to get my hands in clay again. I had played around with miniatures, dabbled in gardening… learning about myself. I have really learned that I am a MAKER. I love making. making websites, making mobile apps, making artwork, making electronic circuits, and again making ceramics.

I have struggled most at attempting to define myself. What am I? Who am I? And then struggling to present myself “in a box” to whatever particular audience I was engaging. It was a poisoned existence – feeling as though I needed to concentrate my efforts, and be a “pure” something to be successful – as though I had to package myself for market.

So began my re-entry into clay. It was frightening. I had a real block there… I had put so much pressure on myself to PERFORM perfectly, to have the right ideas, the right approach, the right everything. And because I fancied earning a living at clay, there was the financial and work pressure as well. My head wasn’t screwed on right. My marriage was breaking down. I was finally able to understand my needs after all these years – and they didn’t fit my current life. So I changed my life.

It wasn’t only “the need to do clay” that molded my new life. But when this need reawakened in me, and it was so out-of-sync with my life at that moment, it revealed the changes that were required. I suppose you could say that the need to do clay was a spotlight, or maybe a doorway… and behind it the knowledge of me.

This was 3 years ago. I had just set up my first studio, in the basement of our rental home, but I took it down, moved out and began rebuilding my life as a single mom. It’s taken me this time, and a lot of work on myself and my life, to get this level of clarity. I did some work at Broadway Clay in Frankfort, Kentucky while living in an apartment, but I have just bought a house! And now I am setting up MY studio in MY house, MY way. For fun. For me. And this time around, I’m not worrying about needing to present myself a certain way or conform to any ideal.

Studio

Studio

So I’m just going to blog about making stuff. Some of it will be clay, but also electronics, miniatures, gardening, food… And I’m just going to have fun being me.

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