Sunday, March 23, 2014

I am the walrus!

I am he as you are he as you are me
and we are all together.
Well I'm back from herding the 30 cats from Sheridan College to NCECA in Milwaukee where I impersonated Robin "Grass" Hopper on a panel along with Mark Hewitt of NC and Lisa Hammond of the UK titled" Where have all the potter's gone?" I got elevated to Big Dog status due to Grass not being able to travel.
I was asked after how the panel went? I answered how would I know you tell me! I know when I finished there was that inevitable self questioning of the woulda, shoulda, coulda's. I must say I was disappointed in the questions from the audience. One in particular took the opportunity to tell the entire room about herself.
So in a nutshell the feedback I got was that there wasn't a genuine American on the panel and if there was health care and the disappearing middle class would have been addressed. To be honest it is not that I don't think of health care when traveling to the US. I always get travel insurance because of the horror stories I have heard about getting sick or hurt over the border. Here at home in C eh N eh D eh I'm safe and sound.
My take on the panel was there is a crumbling of the foundation of the craft by the lack of teaching a skill based program. Pots are being made from the shoulders up. But that said the best pots in my 62 year old history are being made today. Why is that? Because if you tell us that we can't do something we find a way to do it. Craft and making a living at craft has always been hard. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. I ended on a note of optimism - Move to Motown! Go where it is cheap and make pots, Make lots of pots.
Tomorrow what I came away with in my head from NCECA.

4 comments:

Julia said...

I was in the audience and really appreciated your and the other panelists' remarks. As for the questions, what do you wish you had been asked? What else did you want to say? Which Americans do you wish had been present who might have given another perspective on this issue? How do you build a new generation up without tearing into them about their lack of skill in the "shoulders up" world?
Thanks, and kind regards.

Maureen Ross said...

My husband and I have been potters for more years than we wish to admit. For some reason it has become acceptable to excuse lack of technical skill in a potter by calling it "artistic". We would not tolerate shoddy workmanship by our mechanic, or in any custom woodwork.
I would suggest that potters need to think of themselves in a professional manner and begin to set standards of acceptability. Until we take professional ownership of our standards then colleges will be able to dismiss poor craftsmanship as "art" and the public will continue to believe the same misguided propaganda.
Potters by and large are a generous lot, but to ignore technical incompetence diminishes us all.
We all need to learn to walk before we can run.

Emma Smith said...

I'm sad I missed the panel (stuck in the booth, ya know) - but I'd love to get together for a one-on-one discussion sometime over coffee. NCECA affirmed for me that
1. There are a lot of great pots being made right now
2. The same people's pots are at the show every year... why is that?

LeeAnn said...

Tony, you made a very interesting point about demographics and the "grey tsunami" that I wish had been discussed more by the panel. I think there is more at play here than simply falling standards. If more clay is being sold now than ever before, and if the best pots are being made now, then where is the problem? Sometimes I feel that there are a lot of "potter" stereotypes that we need to overcome.