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As someone who works in clay, and other forms of art and craft, such as painting, photography, creative design and so forth, I have learned to seek out mechanisms that help me keep the focus on the clay and what I am doing with it. When I'm in the studio, I don't want to drag in internal states that can just get in the way, like certain emotional infusions and negative self-talk.  

I ran across this article about "craft as therapy", and it's a good read.  I was about ready to quit my BFA program due to internal and external hardship. Several art instructors were kind enough and astute enough to notice and say "the right things" that empowered me to hang tough. There was one ceramics instructor tho, whose response to me ever opening my mouth to discuss clay in relation to the creative process, as an activity  that  made me consciously feel good,  was to repeatedly issue a put-down:  "art is not therapy". He'd tone it as though I'd committed the worst sin of an artist, verging on being a dillitant, and should get the heck out of his class. It was emotionally destructive, since I was on the brink of disaster anyway, and more so since I was intent on becoming the next Peter Voulkus and he was squashing my dream.

Paradoxically,  I found validation through therapy, that making art is indeed good for the Self, and I silently told him to take his point of view and stick it somewhere dark. I completed my degree (crafts and materials/ceramics). That plus my love of art  has keep me going through some rough times.  Being a craftsman or using the making of art as a support for being a healthier person in no way negates or dilutes the responsibility (whether self-imposed, or by global standards) to make the best art/object possible within one's skill set.  It's not either-or, it is yes, and. 

Anyway---maybe this piece is of interest to some members. Check it out.   


Edited by LeeU
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After I had a large number of family members pass away in the span of about 2 years and a large number of other personal upheavals, I wound up in therapy as well. Best thing I ever did. My therapist recommended knitting, as she found out I knew how, and it was beyond me to work in clay at that point. It was definitely beneficial. These days, if I go too long without touching clay or making something, I definitely get irritable.

Lee, I'm sorry you had such a toxic teacher. I'm glad you mentally disregarded his words. 

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The entire reason I got into clay was for my mind. I was going insane at home. I couldn't do much because of my health conditions and my son had started pre-k, so I didn't have a reason to be home anymore during the days. This led me to some intense depression because I couldn't work,  I wasn't raising a kid fulltime anymore, and I couldn't take care of the outside stuff because of my conditions. I had always found pottery interesting to watch so that is why I picked it. Pouring myself into my work back then really got me through some pretty dark times and has now given me a life passion that I believe everyone should try to find.

Good on you Lee for pressing on.

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I went back to college to finish my ceramic degree when I was 40 and ran into some problems with some teachers.   I had a painting and a sculptor teacher that didn't want to waste their precious time with me because I was a older student.   I had a printmaking teacher that didn't like teaching women or students that were majoring in ceramics.   I ended up getting A's and B's from them because I am a hard worker and had talent that they didn't think a old person could have.  Each one told me this in my final review but still believed teaching older students was a waste of time.   You can't change to person's core opinion even if you prove them wrong.   If you come across another teacher like this just ignore them  for the ignorant person they are and move forward.  Denice

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I found my way into Art Ed, y way of a girlfriend, wiped out first two college years, and lots of interest in industrial design in the HS years. However, rural PA was not the place to find Industrial design as a major, and as my parents had recently retired military, distant schools were not an option, besides the poor grades I had in last year of HS. I flunked out of my first two at a community college, and begged my way back in for a third. met a girl, turned grades around, then she left for her last two years elsewhere. She wanted me to look into Art Ed. at the same school. I went up and did the interview with a lousy 2D portfolio, and was accepted. . . after they found out the girl was there! I took mostly art studio, and education classes to get my bachelor of science in Art Ed. During college, it was not easy those last 2 years with 3 studios a semester, and the other credits to fill out my schedule. I decided early on that I did not know enough to teach are so I did not stay with the 2D, but took all sorts of 3D and other 2D including Printmaking, Sculpture, Jewelry, painting, water color, drawing, ceramics, and and design classes in 2D and 3 D. I ended up taking advanced levels on most studios. 

My Ceramics situation was a little different. . . I got bit early, and had to know so much. Found the teacher really didn't like me all that well, always wondered why. However, I learned more than enough from him to begin teaching in the career I path I started down. I also continued to work on advancing my studies with more studios in masters studies.

I have always found that being in the studio makes me happiest, so much so that when I am grouchy as in my working years, my wife would kick me out into the shop. grouchiness over, and she could live with me again. Yeah art is therapy, but I would not want to study art therapy. . . that is another story.




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