Would You Like a Ham Sandwich or a Burrito for Lunch?

I get why people go to graduate school, seek out apprenticeships, participate in residencies, or travel for extended study. It’s about taking time. It’s about making time. It’s about earning time to expand and explore ideas. I never did any of those things. Why? I am not exactly sure. I guess it never seemed like it was my path, but it may also have had just as much to do with stubbornness and hubris on my part.

For a long time I saw my inclination to wander in my studio practice and in the materiality of clay as an indication that I was lacking focus. At the very least, my wandering seemed a deliberate attempt to distract myself. I always found myself wandering between making functional pots and making one-off, odd, sculptural things – they were not conceptual, they were rooted in realism, but they were hardly functional. Observing the studio practices of my contemporaries in the region, along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, knowing the local ceramics history is saturated with legends, I always noted the differences separating us.

My choice to follow the Minnesota tradition of making functional pots was a cross between excitement for the material and a conscious choice to assimilate. In my early romance with clay I spent a lot of time visiting the local museums and found lots of source material, but I never made a real effort to follow traditions of South Asian forms or shapes found in Mexican pottery history. While I may look like I belonged to these traditions, I have never felt like I owned them. Minnesota Shino pots resonated as much for me, if not more, than the aforementioned traditions one might assume I would identify with based on the color of my skin. Minnesota is my culture too.