“The world has been turned upside down.” The inversion has created pain, instability, and fear. I wondered whether it might also foster creativity and innovation. To find my answer, I issued a call to our field. Twenty-one artists responded.
For the vast majority of ceramic artists interviewed, their plans and expectations for 2020 instantly disappeared as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic struck the US and our communities locked down. Shows, workshops, classes, sales, art fairs, and more were cancelled. Artists, often dependent on these activities for their livelihood, faced a blank slate, questioning the futures of their careers and incomes. Additionally, the killing of George Floyd and the resultant protests raised fear, shame, and a reckoning that has greatly influenced ceramic artists, as it has many others in our country. Several artists, especially those affected by the social reckoning inspired by the killing of Floyd, had artistic paralysis set in for several months. For example, Ben Eberle noted that COVID and its collateral economic hardships raised questions for him as a privileged white male. “Is what we do as artists appropriate?” “Does the world need another white, male potter?” Fortunately, through different means, each has returned to their work, often with changed perspectives they generously shared with me creating a picture of both hardship and innovation that uniquely captures the moment we are all living through.
It will come as no surprise to readers that many artists immediately saw their day-to-day and projected incomes evaporate. Many, whose face-to-face sales and workshop/teaching activities were cancelled, rapidly turned to the virtual world: Instagram, new websites, Etsy, and participation in on-line galleries. Competition for sales among artists and other makers proliferated. People who had plans to go online someday, were compelled to move goals from the back burner, quickly firing up a digital presence. Others, who were already online, mentioned that the loss of commitments for shows and sales enabled them to enrich their websites, taking time for projects that had been waiting due to other immediate demands on their time....