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In This Issue

Nov 30, 2020

2020 has compressed us. The forces of history and nature confronted us like the chaotically arranged molecules we tend to be and exerted their force, descending with unprejudiced pressure on multiple planes. 

Instead of thinking about the year as a series of unfathomable random pressures, it has helped me to think about the deliberateness of it all. Setting aside fear, anger, exhaustion, and confusion (but mostly fear) to accept that the pandemic, the racial divide, and the political divisiveness all have origin points we can trace gives us more options on how we can work our way out of the current situation. It would be easy to assume I am speaking only from my American perspective, especially the last two points concerning race and politics, but I have never been one to believe these issues are uniquely American. I know my predilection for seeking lessons buried amidst the rubble is not uniquely mine. As a community of makers who work in a material susceptible to the history of touch and process, we know the root of a problem lies somewhere within. We can surely trust we have the transferable skill set to investigate, make notes, and begin anew to achieve results with the integrity we seek.

Maybe we had to be intensely compressed. It is a necessary part of a transformational process after all. If we don’t yield to the compression of 2020 we will forget the lessons the year has taught us. If we forget, then when we are tested by fire we will return to our old reality, becoming warped and cracked – worse off than we were before, never assuming our new form. If we resist the compression we will be less functional than we might be. We won’t have the integrity to hold each other.

This month Studio Potter presents you four stories of perseverance, self-examination, and inspiration. This month I hope you see the potential of awakening to new possibilities. We can reach beyond invisible, but binding, dogmas. Within the voices of our authors we may find the courage needed to keep growing, keep learning, and keep reaching – even though we are weary.

As we close out the year may we be:

Brave enough to redefine quality and revel in new aesthetics like Stephanie Lenertz does in her article this month, “Finding Freedom and Humor in Tradition” and as Matt Mitros did in his October article, “A Cluttered History.” 

Brave enough to consider “Disrupting the Canon,” following the lead Magdolene Dykstra, Heidi McKenzie, Habiba El-Sayed, and Natalia Arbalaez presented in their March 2020 article. 

Brave enough to stop explaining why things are the way they are and listen to the way things might be, as explored by Erin L. Shafkind, Courtney M. Leonard, and Paul S. Briggs in “Reclaiming the Potter,” published in September, and modeled by Donna Ray this month with “The Imagination Never Dies: A Resident Artist’s Coming of Age.”

Brave enough to live through darkness and retain hope like Eva Zeisel did, a story related for us through an illustrated narrative by Richard Nickel this month.

Brave enough to learn from the patterns of history as we sharpen our senses to recognize when we are making tacit agreement with outdated paradigms, modeled by Peter Jadoonath this month in, “Would You Like a Ham Sandwich or a Burrito For Lunch?,” and more abstractly in Ashwini Bhat’s article “Duplicating Daniel,” published in September. 

Brave enough to set down fear and anger long enough to accept grace and humility when it is revealed – to recognize grace from unexpected sources like Heather Nameth Bren did in, “Roller-Skating Toward Hope,” in May.

Brave enough to not make each other one dimensional and ignore the nuance of experiences that brought us to the ground we stand on now, wherever that may be. Sharbani Das Gupta showed us the “The Space Between,” when she shared the work of Alejandro Santiago and Magdalena Hefetz in June.

Brave enough to nourish ourselves as needed, reaching beyond the sphere of clay and deepening our effort when we come back to it as Chotsani Elaine Dean and Guillermo Guardia wrote about in “Below the Surface and “Proofing Time,” published in November and June respectively.

Whatever may be gleaned from the stories, generously shared through Studio Potter, I hope we hold room in our hearts for questions we do not understand. I think therein we will find each other. After all, many a teacher has uttered the phrase, “The answers lie in the work.”

Be well everyone and thanks for reading,

Jill Foote-Hutton


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