once a dancer…

Pat Lindemann dancingI recently found this picture of my mother dancing with me.  The writing on the back says “Judy and Patti Jean on her first “birthday”.”  Its my grandmother’s writing.  When my parents married, they were in San Antonio.  Both were in the Air Force, and lived on the base.

I remember dancing with my mother…maybe not this time, but I remember a time.  I was little, but old enough to be walking…and we were laughing.  She was holding both of my hands and swirling them in figure eights, in unison.  I don’t know what the music was, no memory of that… although I wonder sometimes when I hear a song in a store or elevator that makes me smile for no reason, if it was that song…

dancingwithtashRecently Tasha and I trooped down to the park for a “concert in the park” night.  The music was jazzy and the park was packed.  We wandered around in the back, searching for a tree to lean on, since we had neglected to bring chairs like everyone else.  The band played the song “Brown Eyed Girl”, always a favorite of mine… and we were in the back…very few people were probably even paying attention…until I couldn’t stop laughing…but I totally see nothing wrong with dancing when you hear a good song. I like to dance with my whole body…none of this tapping of a toe, or a minimal shaking of shoulders, pfft!  That’s not dancing!  Dancing is feeling music in your middle, and letting it trickle out to your limbs. It was one of those moments when you feel so good, that laughing out loud is a tiny sound, compared with the light in your soul.

and the memory makes me smile…

who ya think ur talkin to?!

“the work of art acts like another living person with whom we are conversing” ~ Anton Ehrenzweig

When was the last time you had a project so deep in your soul that it took on a life of its own?  I have had this happen to me a few times, the most notable being  several years ago.  Being a production potter for years- being used to making every piece look alike- it took some doing for me to get ‘looser’ in my throwing techniques.  Yet whenever I would go thru Ceramics Monthly or other art magazines, the pieces that i admired and even drooled over were pieces that had a gestural quality to them, pieces that had tension and edge…grit.  But looking at all of my little pitchers, lined up like nuns, in the studio…they were prim and proper, no edge…no grit.  And really, I myself am not a prim and proper sort (“omg,” you are saying,”…really!?”).  I was at a loss as to how to begin…how to give myself permission to not make every pot the same…tight and controlled…  but the beginning…it happened –in the most hilarious way…

when we lived on the farm, I used to throw pots in the basement of our house.  Dean, my husband, had put up concrete blocks and 2×10 boards and I would line up pot after pot on these boards as they were thrown.  We had a cat, Kadafy (named after the terrorist of the time), who liked to hang out with me walking the ledge above the pottery shelves, or sometimes sitting on the seat beside me.  Kadafy was a very good studio cat!  As you know, pots are very soft clay when they are first formed, and have to sit out and firm up a bit to handle, to cut off of bats, to trim and sign.  I had this bunch of lidded jars sitting on shelves, probably 3 or 4 dozen innocently waiting…I was off doing other things for the afternoon.  When i returned in the evening to trim these pots, i found a half dozen of them in various forms of mush.  On closer inspection, i spied kitty paws in the clay…it appeared that the cat had hopped down from the ledge and landed on a soft clay pot, and in an effort to recover her footing, had hopped to the next pot and the next and so on, squashing them as she went.  When semi-firm clay is squashed, it makes a farting noise as the air escapes and leaves a pretty good fingerprint impression.  As i stood there gazing at the pots, they told the story, and soon I was laughing so hard i was crying, imagining my poor self assured Kadafy, scrambling from pot to pot, as they disintegrated beneath her feet like landmines.

A seed of an idea began to grow(it took a few years to put this into words)…people go thru life encountering different experiences.  Some biblical references consider people as vessels…like pots.  Upon further spiritual investigation, I felt a divine leading- explaining that as people travel thru their lives, they are marked…marked by things that happen to them, by people that they meet along the way, both good and bad…and they are marked by things that they do to themselves…and they may be marked by their maker, if they choose that. Marks can be decorative, or scars…they can be internal or external…marks can hinder how you move-emotionally or physically, or they can make your moves appear lyrical and rhythmic…

This concept blew me away… helped me to look at imperfect pots in a whole new way….imperfect people too.

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