Creating art is about the process one goes through as the piece reveals itself in physical form.
What did the artist experience?
What emotions were evoked?
Was the creative process peaceful and meditative, or a tool to silence pain and drown the internal screams for salvation?
The final product expresses what words cannot. More often than not, it is only the artist who sees the personal growth that transformed during the creation. Sure, there are those who can interpret what lays on the canvas and centered on the ceramic wheel. After all, art is an expression of voice. Art speaks what the vocabulary cannot.
“Art is not the end result; it’s the process of creating it.” -P. Kitti
Today I realized I had made an unfortunate mistake. I created a freehand design of loops, spirals and circles made of ceramic clay inside the terracotta bowl I used as a mold. As I created it last week, my heart proudly sang praise of my elegant creation. I imagined using this open designed bowl as a bread basket for fresh baked goods. That dream shattered as I noticed many of the elements had not adhered.
How could I fix this? Is it trash? Did I waste several hours on this heap of disconnected shit? What the hell was I thinking by not securing each loop to a spiral nor the circles beautifully placed within the design? I know better than this!
Breathe, Cynthia. Breathe.
I sat down at my studio table and instantly a solution came to me: wet the dry clay, roll out random shapes of clay and blanket the interior of the airy bowl to hold all the broken pieces together. As I gently pressed the clay sheets into place, my thoughts wandered to the expression I used often when people asked me how I was doing shortly after Jeremiah’s death. I would respond, I’m held together with duct tape ‘n spit. I felt my spirit raise a bit knowing I could fix this bowl with clay bandages and slip (thinned, wet clay). I laughed at myself. Duct tape ‘n clay.
Art is healing the emotional trauma I endured when my son died this spring. It is encouraging me out of the box I built to shelter myself from the world of sobbing-mother-triggers.
Two weeks ago Kristine, the ceramics instructor, stood at the utility sink next to the one I was using to rinse out a sponge, and said, “Clay is very healing, isn’t it?”
“It is,” I replied. “It’s earthing. It comes from the ground and it’s bringing me back to me. Please express my heart-felt gratitude to the person who anonymously paid for my second class.” Choking back tears, I said, “This is saving me.”
So now, I let the bowl rest and allow it to be whatever it will be. I’m trusting in the process. Art is about gifting myself the flexibility to adjust my sails and let go of control of the result.