In writing about my personal philosophy of sustainability, I considered both my twenty-five-year timeline as a studio artist and my recent plight of surviving a house fire and badly broken back. The latter was the catalyst for a chain of events that is redefining my artistic path as well as my strategies for adaptation and survival.ReUpped. Fire & Ice, 2015. Redwood and concrete, 20 x 36 x 14 in.

My potting career carried me across the United States and over the typical stumbling blocks of the artist-entrepreneur. I ventured away from my supportive family, who had paid for my undergraduate studies at Penn State (BA 1992), to spend a year on independent studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). That experience sharpened my clay skills and provided a link to Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, where I spent the next nine months as a resident artist. Graduate school came soon after and was a welcome respite from the stress of earning money on my own; Indiana University granted me a teaching fellowship, and I lived thriftily to avoid borrowing. I had always been resourceful, but student life and partially funded residencies sharpened my practice of scrimping and saving. After receiving my MFA in 1999, I headed west to establish my studio and design business in the city of my dreams: San Francisco.

Two business ventures in fourteen years of my stay in the San Francisco Bay Area kept me afloat and breaking even: they were a success by most artist’s standards and, more importantly, sustainable. I cultivated a national reputation by participating in juried exhibitions, attending conferences, and leading workshops at universities and arts centers around the country. I served on several boards, joined regional clay communities, and put forth my best efforts with social media and web presence. The professional networks that expand outward from Penn State, NSCAD, IU, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center comprised a support system for me. I saw growth in my artwork and felt assured that an artist’s reputation and fame only expands and broadens with time.

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