Monday, April 2, 2012

"Idle hands are the devils plaything"
- proverb

Perhaps this is taking Clare's question "why make" a bit too literally, but partly I feel that making keeps us from being Idle (with a capital I) and wasting what could be growthful, productive "becoming" time. The hand and mind, in terms of human growth and development (The Hand by Frank Wilson) are inextricably linked. The developing dexterity of our hand -in an evolutionary sense- separated us from other primates. Contemporary neouroscience confirms that engaging in manual/ tactile activity stimulates brain development. So- if in the process of using our hands to physically work at a thing- we grow- physiologically in terms of our brains, as well as individuals- are those not reasons to make?

Making also keeps us, on the advice of poet Mary Oliver, "beholden to what is tactile" in a world of encroaching virtuality. "Making" is one means to keep us in balance with what our bodies crave doing- movement- of our hands and selves in a kind of memorable choreography (to quote Forrest) of 'figuring things out'. In making we physically and mentally engage in a process of subtle improvement that eventually reveals better and better renditions of a thing. We then have these tangible objects before our very eyes. The objects become evidence of our growth. (The bowls of Clare's feel like sentry's keeping watch over a kind of poetic space we have all, in this week, created together... )

In studio (or even in factory-based) ceramics "making" also, literally, keeps us nested within a community of fellow makers and problem solvers, allowing for both shared and individualized growth of knowledge within that communal environment.

It's always gratifying to hear from a student that they feel they "belong" in the ceramics area. That sense of belonging could be an outgrowth of the basic need many studio ceramists have to rely on a shared space, shared equipment, shared time, etc. Also, the studio environment offers a unique kind of balance for its participants. It involves solitude but also interdependence, with one moving from independent time to community spaces and back- partly out of necessity, but also with connections being built as their own reward, too.

Making can be a contemporary version of being an explorer- albeit on a smaller scale... within material there is rich discovery of possibility that can arise from problem solving and an entering into uncharted territory.

Clare said last night that her greatest fear is that (I hope I am quoting her well) "making doesn't matter". (Basically, what we are doing with her here at LSU doesnt matter). This seems like a great question to grapple with while she is still here and we are madly making...

(to return to the proverb above- Idleness in essence is passivity. There is little that is passive about making this project! The studio is a virtual hive of activity)

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