With spring upon us and workshop season now in sight, there is much to look forward to at theCO in addition to the constant buzzing that is brought about from our weekly meetups and get-togethers. In anticipation of next week’s gathering, A.M. Creative, we recall gleanings from February’s edition of the event which took on a new look, as the meetup tailored for artisans and patrons moved from the traditional early morning convening to an afternoon lunch hour that proved to be exceedingly popular. Friends of theCO took their noonday breaks to come hear ceramicist Sierra Owens-Hughes tell about her experience of entering into a new season of making and the lessons it has evoked, most of which resonated with anyone who has taken a leap of faith in pursuit of a particular passion or conviction.
Oftentimes when you hear an artist share about making the transition from being in school or from working underneath someone else, glories of the accompanying freedom are sung and recognized as a chance for personal reinvention. It’s an intuitive assumption to make that less limits and more space for anyone who is “making” results in higher levels of creativity. Yet for Owens-Hughes, a recent graduate of Union University’s art program, the task of maintaining her artistic zeal in the absence of prescribed goals and deadlines has proven to be more difficult than expected. The ceramicist spoke candidly about being confronted with questions concerning how to make—and why to make—the kind of pots and forms she had committed the past several years to intensely studying.
Owens-Hughes, who had become disenchanted with the sense of romanticism surrounding inspirational surges in her first months post-graduation, carefully turned listeners’ attention to the importance of discipline when attempting to produce in such seasons. “Even when I don’t feel inspired, I know how to make and have been given so many resources to do so. No matter how I feel, I need to keep making what I know how to make and make it well.” She implored listeners to find a sense of creativity in returning to what is familiar rather than what has yet to be tried and to avoid the pressures of needing to produce something innovative in order to be validated. For Owens-Hughes, this is often accomplished by recalling her experiences with clay and its essence, distinguishing it from other mediums. “As I have learned just how much clay demands of me as an artist, I see how the earth, where we dig this stuff up from, demands much of the same. To interact rightly with this earth, we have to respond correctly to its abundance and its potential.”
For many creatives the drive to produce may not be found in constant inspiration but instead the in the obligation to steward what opportunities are available, which may prove to be the most enduring.