I am a person who needs and loves to establish a clear control over the material. I am a process-oriented artist.
I enjoy the way the clay feels, densely packed in my hand. It has a rubber elasticity and flexibility that I enjoy. Porcelain trims with a denseness and crispness that accommodates my feelings, and I love it. Trimming is the next step that resolves the form. If I am making a curved bowl, trimming allows me to use a very subtle angle. I do not rely on the pot being complete as it is thrown on the wheel; it needs more attention. I used to feel guilty about doing this, but my need is to produce a clean, crisp control of the form, with as much grace and subtlety in the curve of the form or an angle as I can manage. It is very difficult for me to allow a pot to do what it wants past a certain point, as my eye tells me I need to see a certain thing take place. In some cases, I'm sure I overcontrol the destiny of the form, but as I throw more and more, the material becomes more flexible. Before I sit down to throw a series of things, I decide on the size, depth, proportion, width of the rim, and what I'm going to do inside it with decoration. These decisions turn me on to throwing, give me a purpose, a goal, get me excited.
It has been said that a pot becomes great art when it transcends function. While this was always my aim, I no longer believe this to be true. A pot becomes great when it uniquely embraces function. The unique thing about a small Chun cup is that it is a beautiful, functional object handled and embraced by human beings who collectively have understood the value and nature of that small cup. The quarrel between art and function is a healthy one. We live in an eclectic country. If people were tied to function too closely, we wouldn't have produced a person like Peter Voulkos. We are people involved in clay. If the clay is conceptual, functional, traditional, metamorphosing into sculpture, then that's the way its going to be. There will always be a lot of contentiousness and ambivalence among groups of people who are doing things, and that is fine and healthy.
We are a hodgepodge of inventiveness in this country. I hope people are not going to get together and fall into what is called the mainstream. It is important simply to go out and share. We all share the material, the labor, and the understanding of process, no matter how different our combination of materials or systems of working.