Liking mistakes

Oops… just realized I had a bit of a blogging lapse there. I’ve been having a couple of not-so-great days in the studio — stumbling around, making mistakes, feeling slightly “off.” My main frustrations are with learning to use a different clay and, perhaps more importantly, trying to figure out what I want to focus on creatively.

I stumbled across the following video of Chris Staley (Penn State Laureate 2012-2013) a few weeks ago. I found it very moving and thought this would be a fitting time to share it.

There are a couple parts that really resonated with me. Chris talks about how things are all interconnected and about life as a matter of heart. He gets quite choked up as he talks about how life is more than finding ways to validate ourselves: “Life is so much more than that… life is about feelings, and emotions and how we connect with one another.”

As to creativity, he discusses the “craftsmanship of risk” — the reality that when we make something with our hands we don’t know what our hands are going to do, that there is a “degree of unpredictability.” I think he poignantly encapsulates the whole idea of handmade creative work. Even the act of painting a line may not turn out the way we intend or expect it to. This unpredictability is the beautiful result of our bodies being made of hundreds of thousands of neurons that must coordinate in order for every action to take place. Even if my hands are being tasked by my brain to carefully paint a thin line, my legs have to cooperate and stay still. As such, a tiny jerk of the knee and my line goes askew. It’s because I’m human.

Mistakes are humanizing. We need not let them paralyze us. They are part of the human story. And sometimes our stories get poured into the objects we make.

“In some small way… all the cups and all the pots have a story. They’re more than just objects… they’ve been touched by the people that made them and obviously, in some way, they have touched our lives by using them everyday.” - Chris Staley

CATEGORY: Inspiration


February 13, 2014

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