on the exchange

From why don’t we know each other (2017)

Image description: a roughly faceted ceramic cup, wider at the mouth than the base, with a coppery shino glaze and a lichen-green wood ash accent.

I was born with fire, water, air, and wood in my chart. It seems right that I reach for earth, apply my hands to it, dust my clothes with it. I explore the interaction between what I carry, what clay offers, and what clay receives from me.

I marvel at the cooperation between hands and earth and fire.

I marvel at the choice that can made between what marks to hide and what marks to leave. At what can be controlled and at what it feels like to let go. At the illusion of permanence.

In the last year, my relationship to making pottery has shifted, subtly.

I still make to satisfy my desire to hone my skills, to create vessels with which I feel connection and which feel authentic to me, but I now also consider the way these vessels will leave me, what relationship others may have with it. I’ve begun to offer my ceramic makings to the world, in exchange for money, that substance which is both imaginary and vital. “I don’t make a living, but apparently I’m still alive” has been a catchphrase of mine. To exchange my art for money is not new to me– after all, I sell chapbooks, but my pots are different. They are not copies. Each piece is unique, particular, with a personality unto itself.

In the act of offering them for sale, they become a medium through which to learn what catches a person’s attention, what compels someone else, to learn about the differences and similarities between myself and them. I watch with curiosity and delight as people pick up my pots. People handle and react to shapes and textures so differently. It is a special thing, to learn what sparks love in another person.

To observe how others may love what I do not. There is something vitally important about acknowledging how we love differently. And in learning to accept that.

When someone expresses joy at a piece that I’ve made for which I may have less affection or vice versa, it is a reminder:

There are things which we do not understand about one another and different ways that we come to love.

To respect what someone else loves can sometimes take great effort.

And to practice at this understanding can be a start to deeper understanding— we can start with something small, such as what someone finds beautiful which we do not, and learn to apply that to things which are not so small, as in those times when we find ourselves pressed up against the conflict between what things in this world we find beautiful and necessary which others do not.