Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My Novel Freshman Experience, Part 12...The Beauty of Broken Pieces

The Beauty of Broken Pieces

We only have one presentation in our ceramics class. Professor H. gave us a list of possible artists, but I went exploring (I know you're shocked that I didn't follow the easy route).  My interest is functional pottery.  I see the beauty in the mundane, the everyday, the useful.  I think you can see that in my writing.  I don't write epic stories, or stories of riches and fame.  I write about every day people.  PTA moms, women who've lost something but find something new...heck, even women who find leg waxing to be torturous!  Normal, every day.

So, my artist is Rob Barnard.  I love his pieces.  Most of what he does is wood-fired.  He does have a collection of white glazed as well.  Like I said, I loved his pieces, but more than that, I love the fact he writes about pottery and has been written about it often.

I love this description Louise Cort wrote in a lovely piece on his teapots in Ceramics Monthly, 12/83.  
“Beyond structure, the clay itself unites the parts. The clay is charcoal gray. That gray seems monochrome at first, but tones of ocher and orange hover just below the surface in some areas. Near the base on the side opposite the spout lies a band of burnt orange that is revealed only when the pot is tipped for pouring. The clay in that area is also glossier: the same lick of wood flame that brought out the color also seared and polished the clay.

"The predominantly gray substance of the pot has the dense but porous texture of good gray flannel. But if it were flannel, the color would have come not from a chemical dye but from fine-spun, naturally dark fleece.”

Cort's description of this simple teapot was as beautiful as the teapot itself.  When you look at a painting you know it's art, but something as simple as a teapot, you might miss it.  Like I said, that's what I love about Barnard's work...the art within everyday.  But along with his art, it was his words and explanation of his art that truly drew me...

"The thing that moves people to look at art comes through the object; it makes them feel excited and say I wonder what it is and why it is. In other words, they can access it through an object. This is what made me feel so good because I had a way to justify not only to myself, but maybe to other people that these objects are capable of carrying this kind of meaning.
   "You know we don’t generally ascribe a big value to these things. You may look at a plate and say, “Oh, this is just a plate.” But the point for me is to try and fill this object with so much that—and you may overlook it at first—but somewhere when you pick it up and start feeling it and you start noticing it, it would be unlike any other experience that you’ve ever had. The thought of drinking out of a piece of art is an entirely different thing; it has a way of working on you that’s different."
(Tom Nakashima & Rob Barnard, Cherry Center for Art, Carmel CA 4/19/13: The Artist's Way 
by Richard Whittaker, Apr 21, 2013)

Remember my Day of Beauty posts about Erie Art Museum? Barnard's description reminds me of how I put myself in others art and it altered how I looked at all of it.
That first picture on this page...the broken plate (which took me a while to find...I read this account before I found the piece)?  That was the main reason I decided to do my presentation on Barnard.  When I started making baskets a few years back, I quickly discovered I liked to do things that weren't quite what the teacher had in mind.  (I know, you're shocked. LOL

That broken is art.

"Against the advice of Yagi, he decided on wood-fired stoneware as his primary medium without going through the usual apprenticeship of firing glazed work in an electric kiln. One of the first things he made for the school’s wood-fired kiln was a rimmed plate, a form more associated with porcelain. Then, irritated because the lip had shrunk, he smashed it down, breaking the rim in five places. Surprised by the effect, he saved it. It is this plate that Yagi chose for the student exhibition." Beyond East and West 
by Jane Addams Allen, Ceramic Monthly June 1995

That idea of beauty in broken pieces...oh, how that spoke to the writer in me.  I write about strong women, but like that plate, they have their flaws.  That's what I keep bumping into in art. 


PS I interrupt this art, strong women and ceramic discussion to remind you that the first of my PTA mom trilogy came out yesterday as ebooks!  Check them out.

PPS.  Part Eleven
Part TenPart NinePart EightPart Seven, Part SixPart FivePart FourPart ThreePart TwoPart One

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