Teresa Larrabee, Sweet Nothings, 2016. Cone 5 stoneware, oxides, acrylic, lichen, 13 x 15 x 4 in. Photograph by author.Editor's note: Larabee was one of four recipients of the Studio Potter merit award of the National Student Juried Exhibition at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), Portland, Oregon, March, 2017. Awardees are given the opportunity to have an essay published in the Summer/Fall issue of Studio Potter

My parents had high hopes that my siblings and I would all find lucrative careers. Both of my brothers leaned heavily towards the hard sciences and served in the military. My sister and I, on the other hand, are both headstrong creatives. She fell in love with music early on, and I searched for purpose in a whole laundry list of unrelated concentrations.  

Like every other kid, my interests changed drastically day to day, but for me the shifting lasted well into adulthood. I wanted to be a writer, an art director or props master, an archaeologist, paleontologist, geologist, psychologist, architect and, for a couple of years, I knew I wanted to be a facial reconstructive surgeon. My loving parents supported my many interests, with the expectation that they would be reduced to mere hobbies once I found a “proper” job. So, here I am, sculpting faces out of dirt. As you can imagine, they pushed back against my decision to pursue a BFA in ceramics, suggesting I choose something more “practical.” Though as I look back, I see that it is the one field of study that encompasses my laundry list of aspirations. 

In high school, after seeing work by Duane Hanson, I was insistent about making figures that looked as realistic as possible. I began sculpting figures that told short narratives, such as a life-size elderly couple falling asleep while playing chess, or a man sneezing milk out of his nose (I thought I was hilarious). Sculpting figures came somewhat naturally to me, and any external acknowledgment was a giant boost to my adolescent ego. It also solidified my decision to pursue a creative field—much to the chagrin of my loving family. 

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