mel jacobson on wed 26 sep 07
i like to think of grad school as `boot camp`.
it is like being in the army. many days you cry.
there are not many days filled with joy.
the bathrooms have no stalls or doors...you do
it in front of 100 others...all looking at you. it is
a learning time. and what you learn is decided by
others. that is their job. you are not free, there
is no democracy.
when you enter this `life event` with a full plate
of family, extra work, your gardens, chickens...
and your own agenda of politics and life style...
it is more then daunting...it is hell.
my take is: do not look right or left. just forward.
if you look at the work of others...wonder in your brain
`why in the hell are they doing that?` you loose your
own focus. you are on a railroad track...and it goes
across australia. no variation. thump, thump, thump
all day and night. at some point...you hit perth.
it is a long boring ride, with tiny moments of joyful
scenes out the window. a sunset for three minutes.
i made that choice when i went to japan. i had no
idea it would be as hard as it was. pot after pot..thousands
the same. many days i cried. but each day my skill level
improved, my knowledge of materials increased...often ten
fold a day. and like you acknowledge, you are surrounded
by people speaking a language you do not understand. artspeak
can be more difficult to understand than chinese. so much of it
is designed to make the speaker seem more intelligent than you.
but, as i say... `show me your art, show me your skill, not your
mouth.` it seems that many that talk their life away, never
touch art materials. they never enter the arena of work. they
enter the arena of `ideas`, but never work. it is like being a concept
architect. they never see a building made. they talk of buildings.
you and me make stuff. it is our life. that is the greatest pride in
the world. `WE MAKE STUFF`. even if it is jam. (in fact...a friend
brought me about five pounds of raspberries....i made jam...added a
few over rip peaches. and thought...`kelly would smile if she saw
me at the stove...stirring jam.`)
but, in fact...you cannot quit. you stay on the train. stay on
that straight track. day after day...one at a time. then it will
be done..finished. that chapter over.
it matters not that others are going to have a show of ART. and
i often wonder what it will mean to them? will this be a starting place
or the end of their art career? the folks that wrote `art and fear` will
tell you....`they are at the end of their art life`. for you, it should be
the start of your career as a potter. the world be damned.
the mpls institute of art has a new room full of pots. names we all know.
we think...`god, i wonder if my stuff will ever be in this case?` but then
i realize....these pots are just sitting here, sweating, being bored...in glass
cases. they have no life. my pots are in kitchens...full of food,
full of tea.
making the lives of their owners much richer. they get chipped, they
yet they live on. never on display. they have a function. it is
why i have to
put peanuts in my two thousand year old pots. let them work for a bit.
get off the shelf. it is like giving your dog a job. they come to life.
it is like `chutney...deer in the back yard...` boy those ears come up.
she is going to protect us. she has a job to do. it is important. she has
a life. she roars out the back door...chasing those critters off our land...she
walks back full of pride. prances.
so, will you get an MFA in makin stuff, or in talking? will your life
start as a potter, or be at an end??? is this experience for you, or
for your teachers? will you be better, or worse? will your work hold
food, give joy to others...or sweat in a museum? that choice is yours.
are you going to be that teacher that makes one piece of art a year...and
sends it to a show, then adds the prize to a resume'...or are you going
to spend the rest of your life making
pots? are you going to spend the rest of your life writing stories about
pots, or are you going to make them? i choose to make them. thousands
in fact...thousands and thousands. and i still find great joy in
seeing drying pots on my racks. i find great joy in a studio full of friends
saying...`how the hell did you get all these pots made in the last six months.
hundreds?` i just smile. but, the greatest joy is working. being tired.
seeing results....building things, making things...the pride of being a
crafts person...not just a mouth.
Clayart page link: http://www.visi.com/~melpots/clayart.html
Marcia Selsor on wed 26 sep 07
Mel's advice is great. His metaphor about the train in Australia
reminded me of what a Crow tribe medicine man once said.
"Life is like a car wash. You can't get out until it is over."
Hang in there, Kelly. When I go to web sites that Helen, the surfer ,
posts I respond more warmly to the beautiful pots rather than some of
I did like Gayle's posting of Jim Leedy's WAR.
Just be committed to yourself and your pots.
Linda White on wed 26 sep 07
On Sep 26, 2007, at 6:11 AM, mel jacobson wrote:
> i like to think of grad school as `boot camp`.
Mel, your eloquence is deeply appreciated. You've put some of my
feelings into words--even though I'm not in grad school.
Forrest on wed 26 sep 07
I want to thank Mel and everyone who responded to Kelly. Your words also
spoke to me. I'm not a grad student but I am on a path to do pottery
I came home from the studio today to find my 97-year-old mother on the floor
- amazingly no broken bones. After a huge struggle I got her in bed and now
face the daunting problem of how to continue as she obviously cannot be left
alone even for a few hours. My guilt is beside the point but my time is
not. Just yesterday I said to a friend, "I gave my youth, my money, years'
of vacation days and even a kidney to my family. I'm not giving my pottery
Sigh, don't tempt the gods!
Taylor Hendrix on thu 27 sep 07
Forrest, Kelly, Fall'n Cherube,
It may seem like you have engaged in dubious battle on the plains of
Heaven against various tyrannies, but I don't think so. I fancy you'll
have your clay.
Write this on the tablet of your heart: To do ought else never will be
our task, But ever to do clay our sole delight.
Do it and I know that you'll have a hell of a time. yuck yuck No, really.
Taylor, in Rockport TX, who is in mutual league, united thoughts and
counsels, equal hope, and hazard in the glorious enterprise...rock on.
On 9/26/07, Forrest wrote:
> I want to thank Mel and everyone who responded to Kelly. Your words also
> spoke to me. I'm not a grad student but I am on a path to do pottery
"I gave my youth, my money, years'
> of vacation days and even a kidney to my family. I'm not giving my pottery
> Sigh, don't tempt the gods!