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Judith B

What Is Ceramics, Is It Art?

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1 hour ago, yappystudent said:

I was referring specifically to folks lamenting decades of struggling at the wheel without success. Surely there are better things to do when you reach, say the 10 yr mark. I'd like to hear someone who is still 'failing' after 10 years of this describe what it is that makes them keep coming back to the wheel. Let me just say about ten minutes at the wheel is enough to confirm in my mind "Nope." Why would they make the choice you're referring to? Since I don't have an answer I'm going to say it's trying to conform to an unreasonable and limiting social norm.  

 

So you think after 10 years of handbuilding you will feel like everything you make is easy?

This is part of driving yourself forward.  You should always be your own strongest critic. If you feel like you are at a point where you can't progress anymore, doesn't that mean the game is over?

What if you really love doing something but will never be good at it?  Should you stop and do something that you don't love?  Should we assume that these people havent tried hand building and didn't like it?

I get a very different feeling in my body and mind on the wheel vs. the table.  I dont like hand building, it feels wrong to me, even though in school everyone liked my hand built pieces more.  I like the wheel even though I'm awful, when I'm sitting at it, everything feels better in my life.  Should I stop trying to get better?  Should I not ask for help on the internet even though I've been throwing for 10 years?  I don't really understand the gripe, it doesn't help to tell people to do something completely different when they ask for help on something, or refuse to call it art or original.

Or maybe I'm just a nutcase haha, I'll leave it alone. 

 

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11 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

So just to be clear, as long as you study art outside of a classroom you can be original, but if you pay to study art, you can't.

No. That is a black and white argument and therefore useless. I'm saying college classes and worse yet, degrees, for the most part get in the way of creative flow, and yet are touted as essential to being a real artist, when the opposite, by and large is true. Many may claw their way past schooling and use some of what they've been taught to add to their repertoire, but what would they have become without this interference and instead merely have been encouraged and supported to do their own thing instead? 

17 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

You're assuming that people attend school to gain creativity and leave as artists. 

No. I'm assuming most people go to school out of a sense of obligation and pressure from society and elsewhere. 

20 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I feel like creative individuals will always strain to be creative and original, it's just something that drives them.  Creativity and curiousity go hand in hand, so no, I don't believe that a quick primer on the history and technique of art (which is what formal schooling is) will retarded or deflect any of that innate personality.  We have hundreds of years of formal education and success to point at as proof, so I feel like the burden of proof would fall on people who doubt the value of education.

 

Tl;Dr: creative people are creative, uncreative people arent.  School has little bearing on the originality or creativity of an individua

Rather than quote and answer how I disagree with every single sentence in one way or another, and not wanting to spend all day on it, I'll just say you can basically reverse all your points and that would be my responses. However I do want to specifically respond to "Hundreds of years of formal education and success to point as proof..." -sits firmly on how you define "success". What you call success I call failure, abysmal failure to be precise. Failures: Where is the thriving art culture in the US? A sliver of what it should be. Also, universities serve only the wealthy so that leaves the other 99% out in the cold or decades of debt. Colleges are still expensive if you're poor and at least the one I went to in CA had a lousy quality of education. One may decide it's worth it to become a doctor or scientist, yes, schooling in that case is obvious but to become an artist when you're already talented? I'd say there is a lot of justification going on due to dollars and years spent. 

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21 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

So you think after 10 years of handbuilding you will feel like everything you make is easy?

Yes. 

21 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

This is part of driving yourself forward.

How? How is trying to learn the same thing for ten years and not trying something else moving forward? 

23 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

If you feel like you are at a point where you can't progress anymore, doesn't that mean the game is over?

Yes. It does. 

25 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

What if you really love doing something but will never be good at it?

I don't know, I've never had this problem, in my case I tend to love something after I recognize I have a knack for it. But I'm wondering if the question is relevant. Is that why people keep throwing themselves into perfecting wheel pottery because they still love it even though they can't make it work even after ten years (actually someone said 18 years...)? I just don't get it, it sounds like masochism. 

29 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Should you stop and do something that you don't love?

That would be stupid. Why would anyone do that. 

31 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Should we assume that these people havent tried hand building and didn't like it?

I think you meant haven't tried hand building so they don't know if they'll like it? But I think the answer is no, I mean all other ways of forming pottery beyond the wheel. At any rate I'll bet they didn't try it for 18 yrs before feeling like a failure for not getting good at hand building. 

35 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I get a very different feeling in my body and mind on the wheel vs. the table.

Me too. 

36 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I dont like hand building, it feels wrong to me, even though in school everyone liked my hand built pieces more.  I like the wheel even though I'm awful, when I'm sitting at it, everything feels better in my life.

Crouching over a wheel reminds me of the morning after results of a drunken late night. My back hurts, my hands are cold. My delicate hands are too small and my fingers too pointy to throw any vessels worth using. Hand building feels right to me. Wheel work feels wrong. I feel like I'm trying to fix a car or change a tire when I could be driving someplace nice. 

40 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I like the wheel even though I'm awful, when I'm sitting at it, everything feels better in my life.  Should I stop trying to get better?

That's up to you. I admit I will probably never understand how someone can love something that involves strict and punishing discipline; although trying to keep a bonsai collection probably forced me to come pretty close. I'd like to know why you think this one thing is so important and comforting and nothing else is? Again, I'll guess there is something deeply personal about it for you and I wasn't attempting to make a personal attack, I'm trying to hash out something I hear over and over on these boards about the challenge of mastering wheel pottery and another point arose about my opinions about the value of schooling. 

47 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Should I not ask for help on the internet even though I've been throwing for 10 years? 

Should I not ask questions about what drives your motivation? 

48 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I don't really understand the gripe, it doesn't help to tell people to do something completely different when they ask for help on something, or refuse to call it art or original.

I'd say don't take it personally then. I think it does help to tell people they have other choices. Sometimes one person just saying something out loud (or in writing) will give form to an idea and help others make choices. They will know they're not alone. It sounds like you're saying no one should have a different opinion and everyone should just go along with the herd. Also, I wasn't "telling" anyone anything. I was asking a question why they feel the need to keep going at the same thing all the time. Also, in regards to refusing to call something art, you'll have to define what "it" is specifically, do you mean a plain brown bowl made in series of 50 a day? or one of Callie's artistic globe vessels? I'm not sure we're going to get anywhere talking to each other, you want black and white's and no questions asked, my head doesn't work that way. 

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32 minutes ago, yappystudent said:

One may decide it's worth it to become a doctor or scientist, yes, schooling in that case is obvious but to become an artist when you're already talented?

They're not becoming artists in school, they are learning about art.

I don't understand what is wrong with that.  I have a college degree in science, but a scientist I am not.  Was it a waste of money? Well if I was getting that degree expecting to be a scientist then yes, it was a huge waste!  But I wasnt, I went to school to learn about science.  

If you're going to school thinking it'll make you an artist, you're doing it for the wrong reason.  But if you're going to learn about art, I don't understand what the issue is.  I also don't see the issue of being an artist without schooling, it's almost like we can treat everyone as individuals and allow them to make their own decisions without crapping on their hard work ;)

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5 minutes ago, yappystudent said:

Yes. 

How? How is trying to learn the same thing for ten years and not trying something else moving forward? 

Yes. It does. 

I don't know, I've never had this problem, in my case I tend to love something after I recognize I have a knack for it. But I'm wondering if the question is relevant. Is that why people keep throwing themselves into perfecting wheel pottery because they still love it even though they can't make it work even after ten years (actually someone said 18 years...)? I just don't get it, it sounds like masochism. 

That would be stupid. Why would anyone do that. 

I think you meant haven't tried hand building so they don't know if they'll like it? But I think the answer is no, I mean all other ways of forming pottery beyond the wheel. At any rate I'll bet they didn't try it for 18 yrs before feeling like a failure for not getting good at hand building. 

Me too. 

Crouching over a wheel reminds me of the morning after results of a drunken late night. My back hurts, my hands are cold. My delicate hands are too small and my fingers too pointy to throw any vessels worth using. Hand building feels right to me. Wheel work feels wrong. I feel like I'm trying to fix a car or change a tire when I could be driving someplace nice. 

That's up to you. I admit I will probably never understand how someone can love something that involves strict and punishing discipline; although trying to keep a bonsai collection probably forced me to come pretty close. I'd like to know why you think this one thing is so important and comforting and nothing else is? Again, I'll guess there is something deeply personal about it for you and I wasn't attempting to make a personal attack, I'm trying to hash out something I hear over and over on these boards about the challenge of mastering wheel pottery and another point arose about my opinions about the value of schooling. 

Should I not ask questions about what drives your motivation? 

I'd say don't take it personally then. I think it does help to tell people they have other choices. Sometimes one person just saying something out loud (or in writing) will give form to an idea and help others make choices. They will know they're not alone. It sounds like you're saying no one should have a different opinion and everyone should just go along with the herd. Also, I wasn't "telling" anyone anything. I was asking a question why they feel the need to keep going at the same thing all the time. Also, in regards to refusing to call something art, you'll have to define what "it" is specifically, do you mean a plain brown bowl made in series of 50 a day? or one of Callie's artistic globe vessels? I'm not sure we're going to get anywhere talking to each other, you want black and white's and no questions asked, my head doesn't work that way. 

I'm just trying to invoke some thought, I don't see anything in black and white, I am using these phrases to point out how black and white your own points are.

I have a lot more questions (albeit mostly hypothetical) in my responses than you do, so I don't understand how you feel there's no questions asked.

It's hard to have beliefs challenged, I totally understand that and respect you not wanting to talk with me anymore.

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Liambesaw, I think I am hearing something different than what you are hearing in Yappy's comments.

I don't at all hear Yappy saying you shouldn't do what you love! Rather, I hear her arguing that if one doesn't love wheel throwing, one could set aside wheel throwing and still have a flourishing life in ceramics. 

LeeU may believe that competent wheel-throwing is a basic skill a ceramic artist working today must have. Yappy doesn't. Looking back through the centuries there has been wonderful work that was done outside a wheel-throwing tradition. Is that no longer possible?

The question of schooling is a separate but related issue. I have heard some people argue that they felt stifled by art school (though I think people sometimes don't recognize the constructive things they would have missed without their educations). I have heard others say that their art educations were invaluable, particularly if they see their work to be in dialogue with the history of ceramics or whatever their art form is.

Along similar lines, some people value a broad sort of liberal arts education as preparation for a thoughtful life in whatever field they ultimately pursue, while others prefer getting right down to the business of learning their trade or of specializing.

For each, independent learning continues through the person's life time. 

People have different tastes in how to assemble an education and different interests, and schools vary in emphasis, in quality, and in flexibility.

I don't think how creative a person is in an intrinsic sense is the deciding factor in the route a person will prefer for himself.

[Disclaimer: I have a ton of formal education, though not in art].

 

Edited by Gabby

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A

3 hours ago, yappystudent said:

What does intentionally derivative mean exactly?

A  simple example is my own penchant for poking holes in clay pieces, or slashing some lines, or overlapping rough slabs, a'la Voulkos & Reitz. I was doing this out of my own little pea brain way before I ever heard of them, but when I was exposed to them, and came to understand and appreciate their contribution modern ceramic art, I continued to work in the same vein (far more modest scale) and deliberately drew from them in refining and extending my own notions of "why" (and how) I pinch and tear, and make holes. So it is derivitive-intentionally. The box I posted is an example-it's a bit Reitz-ish: my tool and finger marks are there, the slabs were roughly wire cut off the block (no wedging, no measuring, no bevels, no slip) and beaten together to form the vessel...but it is not an attempt to copy or ride coatails-might even serve as a subliminal hommage to those who extended and comingled craft and art for others to enjoy and learn from.

3 hours ago, yappystudent said:

No offense Lee, but

No offense taken--I have nothing critical to say about abandoning wheel-throwing (or not getting into it in the first place) if it's not happening for someone or they're not enjoying it. I rarely throw, I am no longer proficient at it, and have no motivation to practice-practice-practice.  I presume comments are exchanged because it's a forum, the ideas and issues are interesting, and/or people are looking to learn something or offer their own experience. 

 

Not Art-sm.jpg

Edited by LeeU

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1 hour ago, liambesaw said:

I'm just trying to invoke some thought, I don't see anything in black and white, I am using these phrases to point out how black and white your own points are.

I have a lot more questions (albeit mostly hypothetical) in my responses than you do, so I don't understand how you feel there's no questions asked.

It's hard to have beliefs challenged, I totally understand that and respect you not wanting to talk with me anymore.

My arguments are anything but black and white, yours are. Some people just take general questions as personal attacks and there's not much I can do about it. 

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Perhaps the Moody Blues should have titled their 1969 album " In Search of the Lost Clay."

DESTINATION: being defined in this topic as the pinnacle of success in forming, glazing, firing, or technique.

that said: some people enjoy the journey (me) to that destination as much as arriving there. Others want to reach the destination as soon as possible.

T

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3 hours ago, Gabby said:

LeeU may believe that competent wheel-throwing is a basic skill a ceramic artist working today must have. 

Just for clarity, what I said was "I think applying good craftmanship (knowing & able to perform the foundational elements, processes, materials, methods etc. of the process) is what undergirds  the making of fine art, including art that appears to negate craft. "   I do not believe that competent wheel-throwing is a basic skill a ceramic artist must have. However, if the intent is to incorporate wheel-throwing, then it behooves the artist to learn how, and to do it as best he/she can. Knowing the craft/techinical skills imbues the creative process with an inherent  integrity, in my view, to the extent that the piece would be lacking something if it were poorly made out of willful ignorance.   

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I laughed a bit Yappy, because I made 50+ wheel thrown pieces, including 25 mugs today out of brown clay, none of which were globes. Half of them were mugs. I think maybe you're thinking of Marcia, and her amazing raku globes she's been making lately.

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10 hours ago, LeeU said:

Just for clarity, what I said was "I think applying good craftmanship (knowing & able to perform the foundational elements, processes, materials, methods etc. of the process) is what undergirds  the making of fine art, including art that appears to negate craft. "   I do not believe that competent wheel-throwing is a basic skill a ceramic artist must have. However, if the intent is to incorporate wheel-throwing, then it behooves the artist to learn how, and to do it as best he/she can. Knowing the craft/techinical skills imbues the creative process with an inherent  integrity, in my view, to the extent that the piece would be lacking something if it were poorly made out of willful ignorance.   

Thank you for your clarification. I agree strongly that if one means to be a wheel-thrower, or have throwing as part of the process of building work, one should aspire to do it well. 

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