I am a recipient of the 2009 NCECA (National Counsel On the Education of Ceramic Art) Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship. I was awarded this fellowship to aid in my research to write a thesis on the future of functional pottery. Many of you know that I am a clay artist and work mostly with utilitarian forms. I am also a senior and ceramic major at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan and a community education teacher. Below are excerpts taken from my essay to NCECA requesting their support for my fellowship project.
“…The question of the destiny of wheel thrown forms is far from academic. My fascination with ceramics was born on a potter’s wheel almost a decade ago. Having raised my family, I returned to school after these many years to increase my knowledge and skill as a potter, and to educate myself fully as a ceramist. I am now a year from graduating with a BFA in ceramics, and yet, after all of my explorations into the other areas of ceramics, I still find that wheel throwing offers me a more meaningful language with which to engage my ideas.
My ultimate goal, aside from practicing as an artist, is to be an educator and pass along my knowledge, experience and love of the craft. In that capacity, I am approached constantly by students that share my devotion to wheel throwing, but are concerned about their future and place in the art world should they decide to pursue this aspect of ceramic art? I feel it is incumbent upon me to have some sort of answer…”
I have spent the summer interviewing, emailing, and researching ceramic artists and academics, gallery owners, potters, studio artists, crafts persons, etc. for my thesis essay: “The Future of Function”. But yesterday, while reading “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch”, by MICHAEL POLLAN Published: July 29, 2009 in The New York Times, I was alerted to a new possibility and concern.
According to Pollan, people are not cooking anymore, at least not in the “traditional sense”. Pollan implies that American cooking consists of popping an instant food of some kind into the microwave and then plopping onto the couch to watch a cooking show! Of course Pollan touches on many topics relating to American culture and how it has changed since WWII. Among other things he suggests that advertisers for big food companies have altered our definition of cooking as well as our taste buds. He further states that the loss of “scratch cooking” is the beginning of the demise of our humanity.
Now, here I am doing research on whether a potter who makes functional pieces can make a living at it, and Pollan suggests that people have stopped cooking – which means presumably that they are also not using cooking utensils, like, say, handmade pottery.
I’m wondering is Mr. Pollan right? Do you cook? What is cooking to you? Are cooking and “scratch cooking” the same? Are we at the beginning of the loss of humanity for all of our not cooking?
And important to me and makers of functional pottery:
Do you spend money on handmade pottery to celebrate food?
Do you have a favorite cup, bowl, and baking dish? Is it handmade? Is it a good design? Is it sentimental? Why is it your favorite?
Please take a moment to comment on or answer one (or all) of these questions. Your input is important to what I hope will be valuable information to functional artists and designers everywhere.
Furthermore, if you are so inclined, I am open to suggestions, comments as well as referrals on who else might have interesting insight into this topic.
I look forward to any comments!!!
Thanks so much,