I thought it would be worth while to look at the problems and difficulties of working in clay: how blind and unaware can our obsession leave us? Is hard work enough? How does the student get by financially? What is our place in the market? Should we even be concerned with the market, or simply academics, having chosen to pursue ceramics academically?
For those students who hope to pursue ceramics after their undergraduate degree, perhaps shortsightedly optimistic (art for art’s sake), whether hoping to get an MFA or land an apprenticeship with someone we admire, one must distinguish his/her portfolio, working with a manic fervor, or risk leaving school and joining the tide of white collars. Is our portfolio everything once we leave school? What about the emerging students/artists, naive of the reality that most of us will fold under the market pressures? What, if any, responsibility does the education system have for preparing us to enter the market (as opposed to academics) as a reality of viably continuing ceramics without the support of a system?
At times I feel my pursuit of an education borders on nihilism, consuming all my time, money, energy, and relationships. I channel my concerns into my work, telling myself that there is time for rest and relaxation after school. Here in the Midwest lies the motto: work, work, work and you shall succeed. But I ask, at what expense, the words of a struggling potter’s proclamation ringing painfully in my ear, “I wish I had taken some business classes”.
So I have asked question upon question, expressing fears and anxiety of entering the market and of working obsessively in clay. In the second part (assuming that this can be contained to only two parts), I will give my point-of-view, attempting to answer the questions I have asked, while hopefully referring to the comments of others.
Finally, I am linking an interview by Forrest Snyder with Alec Karros on Critical Ceramics to help stimulate the discussion of the emerging artist/students place in the market: http://www.criticalceramics.org/articles/haysta99/akarros.htm