Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't get rid of your landline phone just yet!

Yesterday, I called my mom to wish her a Happy Birthday. The phone rang and rang... no answer. Thinking it odd that she wouldn't be home since we'd set up a "phone date" I called cell phone.

"Hello?"
"Happy Birthday!"
"Some birthday. We're huddled by the fireplace - we've been without power since 5am. I gotta go - my cell battery is low and I'm trying to conserve."
"OK," I said. I knew why she hadn't answered her home phone - all she has are cordless phones, which need electricity to work. "Well, I'll check in with you tomorrow..."

As it turns out, there was a gigantic icy snow storm that hit Southern Maine really hard, leaving a ton of people without power. Since I live out in California, I had no idea!
When I called my dad at his apartment, he picked right up. He has an old-school corded phone that I bought him for Christmas last year, connected directly to his landline. Guess I should buy my mom a corded phone this Christmas.

I will never get rid of my landline, and I will never not have a corded phone in my home.
Why?
Because when all else fails - electricity, satellite connections, cell towers - chances are the regular Ma Bell phone will still work.

Remember the blackout in New York back in 2003? I guess it is called the Northeast Blackout of 2003...

On August 14, 2003, I was at work in the Village when the blackout began. There was one person with a shortwave radio, walking around spouting bits of information... "power is out in Chicago, too!" and "Fires in Ontario, Canada!" Since we'd lived through the September 11th, 2001 episodes together, it wasn't too far of a mental stretch to think that this was another attack on the U.S. I tried calling my friends to no avail - the cell phone towers were out/not working, and nobody kept their landline. Except for my boyfriend (now husband) and I. I needed to talk to someone outside of the City to get piece of mind. The lines at the payphones were 20 to 30 people long.

I made a beeline for our studio. Walking up the six flights of stairs in total blackness was interesting to say the least, but luckily I've got a decent sense of spatial memory. I knew my old black corded phone from college was buried somewhere in my closet. And voila - that it was!
A quick call to my family back in Maine was all it took - now I knew that there was a blackout that was likely due to a lack of supply vs. demand... there hadn't been another attack. I'll never forget that feeling of comfort in having a connection "outside" of the city, knowing that things were OK on the larger scale. This is why I'll never get rid of my landline phone, as long as I have a choice. And I recommend you keep yours too!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

how do you write an artist's statement?

I've recently been asked to write an artist's statement. Well, a statement plus a studio proposal (or artist intention). "Now I've read a lot of "AS"s before. I never thought I'd have trouble composing my own - heck, I have a BFA in writing, literature, and publishing. And I've been making pots for years. So why do I have a block on this one?

I'll sit here at my laptop, snuggled with a cup of tea and my English Bulldog, with time to write, visions of pots to be made dancing in my head, and... nothing. Nothing but a list.

Here are a few of the ideas I'm working with -
  • I like to make beautiful things
  • I create pots with rewarding details for the curious… a flash of Coleman red inside the spout of a cloudy white teapot, a thickly dipped shino that crackles and breaks with waxed islands
  • Find inspiration in nature – flora and fauna
  • Listen to the clay with my fingers
  • Nothing makes me happier than someone crossing a room with that curious look and reaching out to pick up one of my pots.
I have more but man everything sounds cheesy, or overly earnest... I'm hoping I can cobble something together within the next few days.

For other folks grappling this challenge, I found a lot of information on the interwebs. Google is your friend here. The Artists Foundation says "Writing an artist statement sometimes can be harder than making the actual work." Writing tips from Tips from AF

Here arare a few select inspiring examples of statements by some of my favorite ceramic artists:

Julia Galloway
Malcolm Davis
Sanam Emami
Jennifer Allen