Of all the problems and technical difficulties I have faced in 30 years as a potter, none compares with the intransigence of my audience for valuing what I’ve created. I’ve gained mastery of my craft, but cannot value my experience in terms of price because my audience knows little and cares less about what I make. A recent example: a couple arrives in my studio with their small child, having recently moved to Colorado from California. After looking around and buying a small bowl, the woman turns to me and says, “this must be a fascinating hobby.” Only when an artist has the support of an appreciative audience can fullness of creativity be realized, and I have become confined to pricing my work with those of decades less experience. My creativity is constrained as I rely on “saleable items” to keep bread on the table and the bills paid. So it goes.
I’m cut off from fast-paced American consumer society, and I know I go it alone, but how can I hope to survive financially as the honorable and ancient tradition of pottery-making withers in the face of the latest computer video games? Where is the American studio porcelain tradition upon which I can rely to find nourishment?
If the pots were paintings I could automatically command an entirely different level of pricing. I work within the confines and context of fine arts as they are defined in our culture like every other visual artist, and I find the difficulties of making a living staggering.
It’s my life to struggle to assert my personal vision and originality in porcelain clay. I’m a classisist with a temperment for the vitality of the calligraphic quality of line. For me originality grows out of classic forms of the past, and yet because of my geographic location, even this vision is illegible. I’ve long since learned to ask only for enough money to keep food on the table and the bills paid, but I grew up in upper middle class American society, and I battle my expectations every day. I want a car to drive and a home and studio in which to live and work, and I expect to pay for my life with sales of my work.
Daniel Rhodes was right when he said that obsolescence and neglect follow direcly on success, a success which in my case has proven improbable in the extreme. Mine is the struggle of the artist, the dance of a kind of heroic encounter in porcelain clay, a struggle against impossible odds.