mel jacobson on thu 3 apr 08
another take on the topic. from a good friend.
he even mops and cleans his own studio, fires his own kiln, he made
himself. he has worked very hard to be a potter. no grants, no hand outs,
no free pass. just himself and a wife who helps him every day.
he is a left coast tony. and, he just says it the way he experiences it.
I got it figured out!
a. Prior to the mid or late 1950's, all authors on clay art ceramic books (Rhodes, Cardew, Leach, etc,) only presented and discussed functional work.
b. The plastic bag came into existence during the 1950's, and this gave the opportunity to mix and transport moist clay and to keep work in progress from drying over a period of time.
c. Now that there was no need to do the hard work of mixing clay, etc., the number of people engaged in the craft increased more than a hundred fold.
d. This increase spawned more classes, pre-made clay, glaze, under glaze, tools, workshops, publications, etc. etc.
e. Secrets of the craft were revealed. It was now profitable to share recipes and techniques.
f. Funeral arrangement were made for "slip casting". It was now easier to have that god like experience of turning mud into stone using moist clay rather than slip. Prior to the plastic bag, it was easier to keep a drum of slip agitated than to mix and store moist clay.
g. "Conceptual Potters" entered the scene, with everything pre made (clay glaze, slip), and programmed (and foolproof) electric low fire kilns; it was easy to purloin ideas or concepts for making bright decorator craft (sometimes called sculpture) and to make it. A lot of bad craft became "art".
h. These conceptual potters, at first, had some respect for those who worked hard at the craft, who learned the skills needed for turning pots on a wheel, for mixing clay and glazes, for building and firing kilns, etc, etc. But, as time wore on, they became somewhat envious and afraid of those who had command over the basic process and started to belittle them (it is a defense mechanism and understandable). They started calling potters who possessed their own means of production and who worked hard at the craft... PRODUCTION POTTERS. They also slipped into a culture of corruption and lost all guilt of using public monies to maintain their own little work areas at nearby junior college or art center.
So Mel, here we have it in a nutshell; I hope this puts your mind at ease now that you understand why we are at the place we are in the craft.
ps. there is a current trend to shut down public clay art programs and lets hope it intensifies.