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clay funeral for depression-long

updated fri 8 nov 02


John Rodgers on wed 6 nov 02

Patti, your're beautiful!

John Rodgers

Patti Yager on wed 6 nov 02

Dearest Claymates,

Many of you contributed to the well-being of others on this list over the
years with personal notes of encouragement and offers of help in one way or
another. Much of it is clay related, some not.
I have been on the receiving end more than my fair share, but real life is
never 50/50 in the short run.

With that said, I'd like to tell you my clay related summer short story.
I've replaced the wheel and kiln I lost in May when the drunk ran into me and
spent the summer with my daughter and little grand daughter in beautiful Mid
I started in Whitehall, with the wonderful Peter Johnson at Terrestrial
Forming Pottery. That was my first reduction experience and a safe, happy
place for me to be for a few short weeks before coming to my daughter in
Harrison. Once here, I acquired a Denver Fireclay wheel on Ebay, which I
love. A table top model so I can throw standing. I also acquired a retired
psychologist whose practice had been in the area of Michigan where I grew up
and who was familiar with my school and my teachers. As an above-average
child of the space race era, I was fast tracked into math and science even
though I was visually oriented.
Dr. Mike has helped me to understand that my depression has stemmed from my
early sense powerlessness to make people understand that I wasn't being lazy
by not getting 'all A's" or that I really WAS TRYING in school. That
depression is another word for powerless.
After a particularly difficult session I went to play 'clay' with my grand
daughter one evening. I'd rolled out some slabs for her and was showing her
how to put them together. She's 3. I found myself building a figure of a
person, somewhat primitive and rough, just the kind of piece I'm most
attracted to in other artists' work. Completely different from my own work,
which is very neat, tidy, polished, perfect and reflects what I am, an
aircraft designer.
Peter Johnson described my pots as 'careful'. He had me build some slab pig
banks, which took me quite a long time because I got so caught up in the
details. He told me I should just slap 'em together. Production.
The figure I made with Katarina was what he was looking for and is my true
style. It's why I'm so attracted to that in other's work. Now I can't be
careful with the clay and I love what I'm doing with it.
Then last week Dr. Mike said, during the course of our discussion, that "we
have to find a way to get rid of the depression and all the rest of it. Put
it to rest once and for all. Bury it for good. We'll talk more about that
next week." Being a visual person, I saw in my mind a cross with RIP on it.
Went back to my studio, rolled out a slab, wrote on it 'DEPRESSION'
'EMOTIONAL HOSTAGE MORGUE'. I cut out these pieces, let them dry, took them
to Dr. Mike and told him I was going to bury them. The words would hardly get
past my lips for weeping. On Saturday, my soon to be ex husband came from
Quebec and he and my daughter, Susan, watched me bury them. They weren't
fired. I didn't want them to stand the test of time. As I dropped each piece
in the hole I said good-bye to it, 'you're outta my life' and watched it
break on the bottom. Then I shoveled in the wet Michigan sand.
And there were no tears. I felt light and relieved and ready to move forward.

still an artist
floating slightly above the ground, packing for Arkansas