Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking Down the Ivy Wall



Sad but, it's life. To those who never got to see it, it was a hanging tapestry of about 365 sake dishes that was about 11 feet tall and each was decorated with black and white brushwork with warm bare clay included as part of the design. It made its debut in Worcester, MA, traveled to Boston, MA and then one June morning in 2008 was found in a pile on the floor.

It was born of the self reflection inspired from Maine's deepest winter months. It was a time of realization of and reflection on a good number of my faults, and it was a time of getting over those things. There is a teacher told me about how classic architects used to tell their students to plant ivy at the base of their first buildings so that when they grew older and more experienced designers the ivy would grow to cover up their old mistakes. The sake dish installation became a sort of self portrait of my change during that time. The designs painted on all the dishes were reminiscent of ivy on a wall, covering up the old faults. In spending the hours making, painting, firing and them weaving them all together I had time to meditate on what all that meant to me at the time.

Before I went to Watershed I made narrative pottery about the things I couldn't put to words, but when I got to Watershed I found I couldn't draw them anymore. I started making straight functional pottery, and after a little foray here and there I started throwing 75-100 a day, and ended up with about 1,000. (I actually have a few hundred of them finished and not in my closet here in Carrboro.) The remaining hundreds were going to be a part of another project. I was a bit shocked and disappointed when I first heard they had fallen (poor design on my part) and I didn't have a chance to see to them or think about them until going back to NH January 2009.

In sorting through them all, I strongly believe that it served its purpose (and my dad corrected me when I told him this, saying that it served many purposes, and he'd really right). When I was sorting out the unscathed, the slightly chipped, and the pieces into their respective piles, I thought about what they meant. As a whole, they told a story and they made a statement - and I suppose that was probably different for each person who saw it. Now that story is finished (and it's true, that piece represented a certain period of my life - a self portrait - and the getting over the flaws of the past self. Kind of a statement and reminder to constantly growing and not dwelling in looking back). You could see each dish as a word, or a letter, and now they can be reorganized to tell a different story... the story of who I am now. I suppose it's really only fitting that it fell - a true casting away of the past.

The final count is 138 solid dishes, 80 slightly chipped, and the rest - well, don't worry about those. I've actually taken a liking to the pieces that were broken. There are sections of the tapestry that, even though the dishes in the section broke, are held together by the weaving of the fishing line and can be fitted together to form the dish again. Through all the mess - there are still survivors.

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