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making a living, time, life--long

updated thu 16 aug 01


Tony Ferguson on wed 15 aug 01

To add...

It is not easy supporting a family on pots. Man am I
finding this out now. Especially when the flow and
ebb of the economy is never a certain thing--but then
what is, right? I have realized in my younger
arrogant age that the notion of security is an
illusion. A bigger car, house, bank account can
disappear in a second, as can you or me. So where
should you spend your very valuable time? Do you know
how much time you really have? I have wasted much.

We are living the life--I make pottery (gassing local
or carting my work 2.5 hours away to fire in my
Anagama (some good some bad firings always learning).
I also teach out of my studio, no more then 10
students at any one time and my wife and I teach
ballroom dancing. We are adding children's clay
classes this fall. Children need these opportunities
with the way Art is going in the schools around
here--not so much the teachers, they're working their
asses off--our greater culture is the problem and the
idiots we elect are our problem. Why don't they
understand the need and importance of
expression??????????????? Especially as it contributes
to intelligence and creativity and let's not forgot
the soul--what you learn about the self that is
covered up.

My wife and I are artists in more than one area and
having the multiple sources of income (albeit not to
large in any one area) allow us to float, barely. We
drive a beater van I manage to fix. It seems we have
what we need--by most American standards very poorly
yet internationally not too bad. My family perceives
this lifestyle as scattered, insecure, as much of our
society does toward the artist. My friends mostly old
now drive new suv's, new house, blah blah blah. They
are slaves to their job. Living to work or workin to
live--Their day care kids are picked up, a couple of
hours of dinner and to bed and the same next day.

We have decided to put our children first as we see
it. My wife is a certified elem. teacher. She stays
home. We are poorer because of this yet much much
richer we feel than most--and we get to raise our
children ourselves! We get to know these little
beings and celebrate each day of learning, discovery
and expression. What is worth that? The "it takes a
tribe to raise..." is one of the new America cop-outs.
It's something we buy into to feel better about our
selfish, wanting, greedy amassing little lives. What
is worth having the flexibility to stay home and take
care of your wife or children when they are sick
instead of work being first and family second? Rush
talks about "working for the man" Or at least I think
it was him. I can't do it now-done it, yet. I'd
rather be that man!

Did you know the first thing every conquering nation
took away from the culture it conquered was its
language and its arts? Take away people's ability to
express themselves and you stop their growth and
ability to realize the shit hole they are in. Keep em
dumb--we need more service workers--that is the
mentality of the industrialist and when you or I get
too smart we threaten their jobs. So they cut and the
cut and they cut.

My father was garbage man among other things. He is
not dumb. He is an engineer now. He got there from
going back to school. Lucky and earned.

Our culture in its strength and individualism is
losing itself in the materialism, in objects, in
things that are so temporary. I probably don't need
to say this to any of you--I think most potters
understand this. Yet we let ourselves feel that we
need these "things." I think if you can make pots
your are fortunate and you have earned your bread. It
is not easy. How many people create things anymore?
We know the value of this and are richer for it I
believe. The illusion of the American Dream lies in
the future—LIES—it is false. “You are where you want
to be.” Examine this and you will find it is true.
Right now is your dream or nightmare. Don’t like it,
change it! It doesn’t exist in the future. It exists
right now where ever you go.

Today I have struggled with whether or not a interview
for a HS teaching job that is .63 time to teach 4
classes, almost full time. For me it is an
ethical/philosophical decision. .63 to take care of
my family. hmmmmmm. Take a job that is a no where
job or stay committed to making more pots, developing
and nurturing the business, getting the work out
there, slowly, most things like this happen slowly. I
am not sure when it will turn around--when our culture
will finally realize the significance of the kinetic
tactual audio visual benefits of the Arts. We know
how it affects both sides of the brain--we have the
freakin technology and imaging devices to prove it!
"Increased lateralization, increased overall brain
efficiency" blah blah blah! Artists have known this
for thousands of years and scientists too. Science and
Art are one--inventiveness, creativity,
intelligence--it is all about relationships,
combinations, fusion, alchemy--putting things together
and seeing what happens. Don't like that, try again.
Kind of like life. In that process there is something
amazing that happens--we begin to become privy to
something greater than ourselves yet is apart of
ourselves. There in lies the mystery of our
attraction to the earth, our expression with and of
the creation.

We will not have the nicest clothes, shoes, cars. We
will not be able to afford to send our children to the
best schools--but then I've always believed that self
education was where it was at. You wanna learn
something, figure it out. If you can't find someone
kind enough to help you, find someone who will. It is
your destiny in the making and fulfilling and its all
about time and how and with whom we spend it.

Tony Ferguson, Duluth MN

--Tony Ferguson, 727-6339Looking to see, buy or barter artwork go to: