Several years ago, I returned to Baton Rouge, where I had gone to graduate school. I got to stay at Mikey's house. Going to Mikey's house is like stepping inside the five human senses. Her house contains endless color and texture in the form of objects handmade by people I know and people I'd like to know. The best part, aside from hanging out with my dear friend Mikey, is hanging out with the cast of characters present - the mugs and other ceramic cups made by her as well as by many other amazing ceramicists. My favorite is a simple little mug by Ayumi Horie, with that soft curve that sits comfortably in my small hand.
Mikey's full name is Michaelene Walsh, and she is a professor of ceramics at Louisiana State University. To do the dishes at her house is to give each character a bath, washing out the irregular shapes, shining the little animal faces, getting them back to their original sparkling condition, and feeling how a finger like mine formed each shape. My own collection of ceramics is small but growing. I trade for cups when I can, and I have even started to buy some. The same year I visited Mikey, I saw a simple wood-fired Doug Casebeer teacup in the Artstream gallery at NCECA that blew me away I went home and raved to my partner about it. He said, why didn't you buy it? Why didn't I!!!????
I'm still getting used to the idea of buying things because they enrich my life and not simply because they are cheap and the design inoffensive. I'm learning that this is the way I support a real economy (rather than by buying something made in China that drags along with it the cost of many negative externalities and sells in a superstore). This is the way I say that beauty matters. There is a spiritual, sensuous, and human purpose in these handmade cups that asks me to be human.