Written for a show in Warwick...
“Huh? What do you want me to
do???” the student exclaims in shock.“Make fifty cylinders, five
sets of ten. One set from two pounds of clay, one from three, and so on. Each
piece of the set must be the same height and width. Oh…and trim all of them
the same way.”
The repetition assignment has
become a classic for me. It makes potters out of hobbyists. It teaches
important skills, hones decision making, and tests muscle memory.
It also blurs the division
between the physicality of form making, and the spiritual place of creation.
Somewhere in the repetition, in a place of trusting the centrifugal force and
intuitively knowing where to place hands upon the whirling clay, the potter is
lost in a cosmic dance with nature…mud, gravity, water, intense sensations on
the fingertips, hands, a breeze created by the spinning wheel gently touching
the face. In a moment it all happens… the potter joins with the rhythm of the
wheel, the wetness of the material, and is in a space as deep as any to which
the most powerful mantra can lead.
The space is beautiful, just
verging on joyous. It is familiar, becoming more personal with each pot…Each
repetition requires a tiny bit less thinking, a tiny bit more “being.”
Slow emergence from the
meditative space can feel lonely, except that potters have a treat to help the
transition... Center, open, floor, walls, trim. Center, open, floor walls,
trim. Center, open, floor, walls, trim. And at the end, we have pots for which
to care… fifty of them!
Ahhh. The system’s perfect. Namaste.