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hamada leach and all that

updated tue 3 dec 02


Lily Krakowski on sun 1 dec 02

As I was early in this, with a comment about learned borrowings to someone
who pointed out that Leach and such were being decried in some of the
media--if I remember that part accurately. I would like to add another

Certainly America is a melting pot. And we absorb endless cultural
influences from all the immigrants into this blessed land. And travel and
communication, and study here has brought American influences--and yes,
there most definitely is an American culture-- elsewhere.

What I was commenting on, and nothing said by anyone so far has made me
change my mind, is the lack of integration into the deeply personal that is
reflected in so much "influenced" work.

When an American potter actually lives abroad, works abroad, acclimates
abroad not doubt the local culture penetrates her soul and slowly emerges
through her hands. Fine. And when a master craftsman such as Mel goes and
works or studies or teaches in Japan there is not doubt that he has the
seriousness to integrate what he has learned into his own work--filter it,
as it were, through his own soul.

But what we have far far too much of, it seems to me, is people who saw a
movie, read a book, went to a Sushi bar, took a course in Japanese
philosophy, and use this unassimilated undigested, unthought-through
information as a basis for totally superficial imitation.

I think it was Rhodes who told a story--in one of his books--that a famous
to be Japanese potter--was it Hamada? --as a young man wanted to study with
a folk master. The Master's wife would not have him. So the Master said
no. Hamada--if it was he--asked why. The Master said they were very poor,
but for a guest his wife would have to make special food, and her children
would be sad and wonder why the young man got delicacies and they got

WhatI am talking about is eating enough turnips.

Lili Krakowski
P.O. Box #1
Constableville, N.Y.
(315) 942-5916/ 397-2389

Be of good courage....

Bob Pulley on mon 2 dec 02

No argument with that. I think everybody needs to eat their turnips.
And I am sure influences are practiced superficially all over the world.
But as I think you implied, cultural influences from other parts of the
world can resonate deeply in certain individuals and be transformative.
Where does change come from? It might come from other cultures, from
growing influences (socialogical, conceptual, technological) within a
culture. In any case aesthetic statements are made by individuals who
somehow synthesize the myriad influences upon them and exert an
influence on others. Culture has roots, but it is a growing thing and
it is a transforming thing and it evolves. When my son was in the sixth
grade Buddhism came up in conversation and I was trying to say something
about time. He said , "I know,'Time is like a river.' " Turns out that
was a quote on his Trapper Keeper. Eastern influences are coming into
our culture (among lots of other things) because we are searching for
new ways of understanding our place in our environment. We are a
Christian culture primarily, but the Christian idea of man having
dominion over nature has not been serving us well recently. This
morning there was an article about the melting of the polar ice caps.
We adjust. All the isms of art reflect adjustments in thinking.

I'm not too concerned about those who ape cultural influences
superficially. I'm looking for those who wake me up. And some of those
people who do not wake me up at this point in my life may be awakening
something in others. We move at different rates and in different
directions, but there are tidal flows that carry the culture.
Bob Pulley