During a recent trip to China I saw a wonderfully crafted vessel on display in a Hong Kong university gallery. Upon close inspection of the pot I noticed a myriad of fingerprints and indentations that the potter�s hand had tracked around the surface of the unglazed form. They were playful marks that told me of the skill and joy that the potter imparted to the form as it was turned nearly 2,000 years ago.
There�s something about throwing on the potter�s wheel that really appeals to me. Following the footsteps on a well-worn path traveled by so many others makes me feel connected to the human experience in a tangible and meaningful way. For me it�s a type of meditation that takes me to a new level of awareness of my craft.
It doesn�t happen on the first or second pot but when all the components begin to mesh, I know instinctively that I am on the right track. All the subtle nuances began to make sense to me as I tune into the tactile quality of a particular clay body and feel the form as it begins to energize itself through my fingertips. Knowing just how far the wall will stretch, how much support the underlying structure needs to stay on center, and what if any glaze or finish will do justice to the vessel are just a few of the thoughts that play through my mind as the pot is underway.
I try to envision the whole process in its entirety as I wedge the clay in the beginning stages. After 30 years on the wheel all of the motions have become instinctive and are now more like an involuntary reaction that just happens when confronted with the materials. Don�t get me wrong, the challenge is still there, the pots don�t just materialize, and I still have my fair share of disappointments but I live for those moments when I find my groove and the act of creating becomes effortless, like breathing. When I see beautiful well-crafted vessels from long ago I can�t help but imagine that their makers felt the same way too.
TY BRUNSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ART
M.F.A., Functional and Sculptural Ceramics, Louisiana Tech University, 1985
B.F.A., Painting, Louisiana Tech University, 1979
Post-graduate Studies in Glassblowing at Texas Tech University
Fine Arts - Ceramics and Sculpture Area
Norman Hall Room 201
203 West Q Street,
Russellville, AR 72801