The Humble Student

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | No Comments »

I have signed up for a hand-building class at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville—a nine-week course with Cynthia Lee on hanging hand-built pieces on the wall.

I wanted to take this class because I wanted to learn a better way to hang the ceramic mirrors I make, and during the first class I decided I had learned all I needed to know in the instructor’s introduction. Ahem, ego much? Lucky for me, having spent the money on the course already, I decided to go back for the second week, and (shocker!) it turns out there’s lots more to learn.

The list of artists Cynthia gave us to look up, and her subsequent slide show, had me drooling with envy over the polished, professional pieces by countless talented individuals. There were beautiful hand-built pieces by Jill Allen featuring charming curly cues of wire and bright colors; incredible, quiet forms from nature by Alice Ballard; gorgeously playful glaze treatments by Liz Zlot Summerfield—the list goes on and on.

So now I’m thinking maybe I don’t know it all, which prompts me to bring one of my mirrors to class to show Cynthia and get some pointers. Miraculously, as I unwrap the porcelain mirror in front of her, it suddenly becomes one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I made this hunk of junk, and am now standing before a real, live, accomplished artist with this beast in my hands. Compared to Cynthia’s beautiful, smooth, wall-hanging pieces with their graceful frames and their backs just as lovely as their fronts, this mirror of mine looks like a third grader made it. I am so embarrassed. And so very glad I am taking this class.

My last post here was about learning from my own students, but there’s a lot to be said for putting oneself back in the classroom as the student of someone who knows a whole hell of a lot more than you know. Maybe my mirrors aren’t that bad, but they (and the rest of my work) can certainly use improvement, and we can all always use more learning. Stay tuned for more updates on my ceramic classroom adventures in the weeks to come!



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