Friday, March 06, 2009

On Looking, Intrigue, and Living with Art

When I get work back from a firing, I need time to get to know it, to learn it... so often it's not the physical pieces that I need, so much as an understanding of them.

I like to live with artwork; mine and others'. Incorporating it into my life helps me to be attentive to little things, to learn and appreciate details. They teach. I enjoy vessels; some need to be filled and used, others stand well alone. Finding the passenger that is right for the vessel is an enjoyable exercise. Sometimes it's immediately evident, other pieces stand, empty, for a long time before their proper use is realized. In some ways this is a spiritual exercise: not that a piece couldn't be used for anything, but that sometimes there's a rightness in a particular use.

What makes me need to take a piece home - here I think more of others' work - is often not that it is lovely so much as that I am intrigued by it - perhaps intrigued by looking at it, perhaps intrigued by holding it, by the thought of using it, by something else, that is best described as a reaction... in all these, there's something that fascinates me, whether how I experience the piece or how I experience myself experiencing the piece.

Though sometimes it's something far simpler than that; it's the anticipation of enjoying using something, or it's an object that is simply so lovely to behold that I want to keep enjoying it. Those ones, those are just happiness. Bliss. Others, though not lovely in the same way, have something about them, a sturdy plate-ness, for example, or some other singularity of being, after a more ordinary fashion, that easily joins everyday life.

I've been looking at things long enough that I tend to know that reaction, the one that says, you won't be sorry. It's known in an instant. The logic may trail, sometimes by months.

Whatever that initial reaction is, tends to stay. It clarifies over time, I come to understand it better - even a less-favorable reaction, wanting to like something but having reservations, for example - but it doesn't really change.