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mentoring dori/long

updated fri 3 nov 00


Joyce Lee on thu 2 nov 00

If you were to see Dori in a group of artists/potters,
you would likely recognize exactly which one she is...... slight,
gentle, ageless, curious, accepting .... afloat in her own sunbeam even
on a wintry desert day.

>From the beginnings of the mentor program a year ago..... to our most
recent session this week .... it's been apparent that Dori is NOT to be
hurried. Upon entering my studio, she first spends some time examining
her small shelf of previously completed work, touching the pieces,
looking closely at each mark she's made on the form, as well as the
effects of the firings. She declines when offered an additional shelf
although hers is a bit crowded. The one shelf is just right. She seldom
comments on what she might have done differently; she always appears to
like the work just as it is, for what it is, and what it means to her.
She then "gets to work" by forming several balls of clay, and after
deliberation chooses the one perfect for her plans. (No, she doesn't
care to be burdened with the responsibility of a second one at this
time, thank you very much for offering... this clay is just right.)

Dori then will spend many hours working with her bit of clay, spraying
it, wrapping it in plastic, keeping it in a cooler .... until
it's finally transformed into the treasure it was meant to be ....
often something of which I've never heard (and that I suspect no other
living person has either). Sylvia will recall the "Snake Fence" that
took most of a year from beginning to end. The Snake Fence is
maybe ten inches long (wide?), and three inches tall, and undulates.
It has a second and third part that initially I did not recognize as a
snake's head, plus a rattling tail. After the final firing, Dori who had
been concerned about how the glaze would look, deemed it perfectly
glazed in Pete's Red and Coleman's White, which choice I mentally
questioned at the time, afraid she would be disappointed. I think it's
going in her garden..... not sure ... along with the plates that cracked
and rims that fell. I'm sure it will look absolutely "right" when she's
through. No UglyPotSpots for Dori; all her pots, or shards, are
precious. One touching piece obviously depicted a miniature "catchall"
drawer like most of us have. It contained a button, a bit of lace, some
small sewing tools and other items .... all in clay and all meaningful
to Dori. Another time she created a piece of bamboo .... just that ....
a small piece of bamboo... beautiful ..... has the essence of Dori.

When a pot does break, or fall apart, or in my mind is somehow ruined,
Dori always carefully saves every single piece (even the smallest ones
not much larger than grains of sand); worries if one is missing until
it's found; has high expectations of using them "later" for some
pre-destined purpose when it chooses to reveal itself.

One flat figure of a nude female fell off the mountain scene she had
created (needed more scoring and slip) ... the woman's figure was part
of the mountains ... broke into many pieces ... and wound up on a
thank-you card she created for me. The woman is lying on her side,
headless, arms separated from the torso but in appropriate placement ...
with the nighttime mountains as viewed from my
studio door painted into the background; the head functions as a
moon above them. Dori has created a surrealistic desert/mountain scene
with cactus in the foreground.... if you look carefully, the cactus is
really an almost separate oil painting of ceramic cones. The nude has a
watercolor wash .... This lonely tableau feels eerie and soothing

Do I intend you to infer that Dorie is fey? Not at all. She is pure
artist inside and out. Of course, after a year, she still calls the
kiln an oven...... and refers to glaze as soup. Makes me believe that
maybe we have come into each other's lives "for a reason"; that we have
something significant to teach each other.... although that is not my
usual mode of thinking.

I know my description is lacking from my void of artistic vocabulary,
but I hope you get the picture, anyway.

In the Mojave