Aysha Peltz in her studio, Vermont, USA.Last winter standing in my studio looking at a table full of newly fired pots, I thought, “This is it? This is my statement? This is what I want to put out into the world? These are my ideas about form, function, and clay?” This moment of overly critical thoughts seemed to crash down on me and compelled me to reflect on my last sixteen years of studio life.

My husband, Todd Wahlstrom, and I completed our master’s degrees in 1995 and 2000, respectively. After I graduated, we searched for a property that would allow us to be studio potters, with manufacturing space for our other business, designing and producing throwing bats. We weren’t the typical couple when it came to real estate. We did not look at schools (for future children) or even academic institutions (that might offer us teaching or academic opportunities) in the areas that we visited. That may have been naïve, but we were consumed by our desire for an affordable, beautiful, rural space to make our art and operate our business. We found it in Vermont.

After years of home and studio improvement, selling bats and pots, and teaching workshops, I found myself itching to reconnect with academia. I wasn’t satisfied with the sporadic nature of my workshop schedule. Then, a visiting faculty position at Bennington College became available.

Before this opening, I’d had a good year professionally.  Being an Emerging Artist honoree of the 2005 NCECA conference had given me some national recognition, and several opportunities followed, including an offer from Bennington, where I began teaching one semester each academic year.

I felt buoyed in my work and life because of the professional support and recognition I enjoyed. Soon after I started teaching, I became pregnant. I had to learn to teach liberal arts students and to learn to be a mother and balance both of those new experiences with my existing studio practice.

Years later, now having two daughters and still teaching at Bennington College, I suddenly questioned everything about my work—the moment in my studio last winter. Balancing a creative practice with the rest of my life is not a new issue, but it felt that way because I could so clearly see how it was reflected in the pots sitting in front of me.

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