Sobriety (from “Into Terrible Light”)

Say there’s a game: You’re walking by yourself on a

dirt road through a forest at sundown, and all you

have to do is keep walking.  Nothing to it.  One foot,

then the other foot, then the other foot, forever, and

the only thing you aren’t allowed to do – even when

the sun slips down behind the hills, even when the

darkness thickens all around you, even when the devil

starts his moaning in the trees – the only thing you

aren’t allowed to do is run.

David Rutschman, The Sun, November 2016, p. 21.

 

My work and my practice deals with recovery, the experience of time and the marking of each day. Drawing from the therapeutic benefits of clay, I make to record time, register my presence, and move through my recovery using both fired and unfired clay. Living in recovery means I live my life one day at a time. For me, each day is full of a feeling of potential and often, beauty. Most often the beauty is found in the most humble, unadorned objects and unassuming forms. I mark my days not only by the number sober, but by the pots that I make. As part of my daily practice I make a pot, usually a pinch pot, as a meditation, offering, and marker. There is a pull to make with my hands, to create an object or vessel as a means of feeling more human, more vital, more alive. These pots and the days they record accumulate in my life and my studio. Sometimes this is a joy, sometimes this is a trial, and sometimes instead of counting the days, I count the seconds. Ceramic objects take on a life of their own, imbued with memories, impressions, and emotions of the people who use them.

Working in clay offers a rhythm that is seductive in its simplicity and routine. I work in cycles. It starts with ideas and ruminations, explorations and questions. Next I shift into physical making, marked by production and the production of objects. Once finished I explore what I have made and learned, and the cycle starts again. I use the process of making work to navigate spaces I don’t quite understand. What do you do when your memories can be a minefield? I grasp onto impressions of memories, time, and place like silken threads only to watch them slip from my fingertips. Sometimes I make to escape these memories, other times I make to record them. Addiction stole time from me, but more than that, it obscured integral parts of who I am. Being an artist, making with my hands, using clay, has allowed me to find a way back and actualize the person that I am.