In This Issue
Straight out of graduate school, I accepted a job out east. The quick of it is that this location wasn’t a good fit for my daughter and me. I didn’t know that at the time, at least not until a particular cup came into my life. It’s funny how when life starts to build and pile to the point of collapse, it is the littlest things that reveal how much we have endured.
This cup also happens to be the littlest object in my collection.
On Wednesday, November 6th, 2013, I purchased a Mary Briggs cup from the Schaller Gallery on a late-night whim. I hate buying art online, but this little cup connected with me just enough to get me to break that private rule. When it arrived, my day was business as usual; unpacking was standard and uneventful. I wasn’t in some abstract headspace to be “emotionally moved” by an inanimate object. However, when this cup touched my hands, and I looked at the pastoral scene on its exterior, I was transported.
Mary Briggs’ work, for me, harkens to an excerpt from Mary Poppins, where Bert (the chimney sweep) draws chalk scenes at the park, and the children, powered by their imaginations and a bit of magic, jump into the drawing for a country outing. Except Mary’s surfaces do not take us to a carousel race in the country, her work projects many of us to the places where our senses grew up: time spent on lazy rivers, eating lunches on bluffs, or playing in wind-swept meadows as the cows lazily graze.
When I shook myself out of this mental teleportation, I was tearing up. I knew at that exact moment that my daughter and I had to return to the Rocky Mountain West. We had to return to the landscapes we called home.
Fast forward about eight years; unbeknownst to me, I was at that point where the tribulations and stockpiling of life’s weight were once again at a breaking point.
My beautiful Mary Briggs cup shattered.
This cup had been my colleague, my copilot, and my confidant, and I had imbued so much meaning into her. But there she was, shattered.
I knew exactly how she felt.
I cared deeply about that cup. So much so that I fixed her and protected her. But I didn’t have that same mindset for myself or my daughter. It would take two more years before I found the strength and time to repair us.
Fast forward to November 2023, and my little cup and I live alone together at the top of a mountain on the West Coast. I now split my time between the Rockie Mtn West and the Transverse Range, and regularly travel to visit my daughter in Europe and my husband in Central and South America. Between the glue and gold that holds her together, she has never been stronger – I can say the same for myself – a few chips on the edges and a repaired yet strong core.
Mary Briggs is no longer making her beautiful forms. I hope Mary reads this and knows that her little cup has made an impact. In my life of dislocation, Mary’s forms and surfaces provide my mind with an imaginary sanctuary, an escape, or a trip back home. I hope this little cup knows that in a world of objects to choose from, it is my favorite. This cup has been a barometer of my life, warning of the changes in pressure and revealing my capacity to pivot, cope, and find my place in this world.
What makes a beautiful pot?
Is it form or function? Is it sentimentality or history? Obviously, these are all rhetorical questions with subjective responses, but in the quest for creative wisdom, I find myself nevertheless wondering. This month, I’ve asked our contributors to explore these themes to help us gain insight into what beauty looks like in the form of a pot.
S.C. Rolf looks at the hierarchy of form while exploring the relationships – or is it the tension – of the inside and outside of form. Kristina Batiste looks at the humanity of a pot and how time can unveil its true authentic self. Vay O’Brien explores the relationship between the cup and the maker in a poem about being taken for granted. lourdes jiménez-pulido reflects on the power of the vessel in her sculptures. Akira Satake looks at the authentic simplicity between fire, clay, and maker. And in our FREE article this month, Yuliya Makliuk deconstructs the beauty of environmentally conscious mugs.
This month is also a common month for giving. You will begin to see newsletters and fundraising campaigns from all of your preferred non-profit organizations. Studio Potter is no different. The beauty of Studio Potter is that we are only possible because of your kind support and the generous work of our board of directors. Our board is comprised of potters and artists, just like our readership; we are a collection of beautiful people who make beautiful pots - and you can read their thoughts on the beautiful pot here: Support Those Who Support Studio Potter. I ask for your generous support because, much like my little cup, Studio Potter has impacted our community. We are a barometer of the ceramic social consciousness. We bring you human interest stories that move beyond exhibition reviews and instead shed light on how we, as ceramists – as humans – pivot, cope, and find our place in this world.
In a world of for-profit magazines, we stand alone as a non-profit, and we need your financial support to continue delivering content that matters. Donate Here.
Randi O'Brien, editor