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cm's wonderful cover/ vince and nature

updated mon 5 apr 04


terry sullivan on fri 2 apr 04

Well, strongly said Vince:

<< Has there ever been a pot or sculpture as beautiful as the finest
geode? Not hardly. Not in your wildest dreams. An artist can emulate
geological forms, but no artist can push beyond geological forms. No
of humankind will ever even remotely approach the beauty of nature.
That is
a given fact, and anyone who believe otherwise is delusional. >> V.P.

That's the kind of statement that might at first get at "shoot from the
hip" kind of response. But it deserves more inspection, or
introspection. Like yourself; I find my inspiration from nature in all
its amazing glory.
In regards to nature; I can find no argument. No artist could hope for
more than to be inspired and try to capture or emulate the essence one
finds there. It will always be a failure if compared only to what one
can easily find in natures vast storehouse of beauty. Yet it is still a
thing of beauty as you say.

Having said that; there is much art, and ceramic art, that shouldn't be
compared to nature. It often isn't about nature, but about the human
condition, about human thought and emotions.
We are part of "nature" and yet transcendent or different if you like.
Who has not been swept away in the emotion and beauty of a Beethoven
Symphony or a Rhodan sculpture. Why would one compare these to nature
? Seems like two completely different things.

I have been moved to joyous laughter at the beauty of nature when
hiking in the high Sierra Nevada.
So too, I've been moved with equally strong and deep emotion by a
painting by Van Gogh, a symphony , or a sculpture.

Though the beauty of nature is truly an awe inspiring thing indeed; it
isn't all there is to the human condition. Nature, and more so Geology,
is neutral. It just is. There is no judgment or evaluation. That comes
from being sentient and being aware. That is what causes us to make
art. We are aware and we think. Then we make stuff that expresses our
feelings. That ain't nature. That's human. That's a thinking, feeling
being aware of its thought and feelings.

We are of nature, and immersed, to greater or lesser degree, in it. But
we are more than it in some ways.

We will never be able to surpass the type of beauty that nature provides
in abundance. But; nature will never compose a heart rending Concerto,
or a Michaelangelo sculpture. No comparison is needed. Both enrich the
soul. Both are needed.

Terry Sullivan
Nottingham Arts
Personal ( off list ) email to:
Please do not respond privately to It is for the
Clayart Listserv and it will not be recieved.

Leland G. Hall on sat 3 apr 04

Terry, I do not wish to debate these sentiments of yours, which I have
quoted below (yes, I know, out of context) You have expressed your opinion,
and now I wish to express mine. And this is a real touchy subject for me
right now because of what has been going on in our neck of the wetlands.
You wrote,
"We are part of "nature" and yet transcendent or different if you like.
Symphony or a Rhodan sculpture. Why would one compare these to nature
? Seems like two completely different things."

"Then we make stuff that expresses our
feelings. That ain't nature. That's human. That's a thinking, feeling
being aware of its thought and feelings."
"We are of nature, and immersed, to greater or lesser degree, in it. But
we are more than it in some ways."
It is my rock solid opinion that all three of these beliefs are erroneous
and responsible for all of our sweet planet that has been destroyed by
man. I believe these types of beliefs are exactly how the early government
of the New World America came up with the idea of "Manifest Destiny".

I do not entirely agree with all that is Zen Buddist, but from my limited
understanding of some Buddist Philosophies (They vary somewhat like the
Judeo Christian traditions) or Taoism. (some one will correct me if wrong I
suspect, Lee?) but it seems to me that they lean toward a phylosophy that
man is defined by nature. That man IS nature. Natural. No more. No
less. A product of. A part of. The universe is one thing. One. When a
human being sees the earth and universe in this light, abuse or neglect
becomes impossible. The Native Americans understood this. So have many
other Aboriginal cultures throughout the history and evolution of man.

I in no way see how our ability to imagine "seperateness" makes it true. I
believe that "seperateness" is illusion. The extra brain circuitry which
enables this illusion does not some how put us "above", or trancendent of,--
----well, anything. There can be no above. Or below for that matter.
Above, below, judgements and such, are illusion which are responsible for
predjudice, murder, rape, you name it. In other words, all that is evil.
Only when Man realizes that all is one can their be peace. Look at Iraq.
Look at the Native Americans. Look the Austrailian Aboriginees. so on and
so on. Pollution, oh just evil in general.

And further more, I have heard the ocean preform symphonies far more
beautiful than ANY classical music ever produced by man. A gazzilion times
more complex. A billion zillion times more genius. Wind in trees, with
thunder and lighning is not kaos. And I have stood on glacier and rock
above 16000 ft and seen desighn in ice and stone more exquisitlly executed
than any painter ever dreamed. Mans puny deeds pale. You can see the
stars from up there at noon. It is just one thing this life and universe.
You be seperate, if you must. I'll pass. But I'd bet the farm that if you
ever experienced even one nanosecond of that "knowing", that "experience"
of oneness, that you would be stuck on it for eternity. It's nice. And it
is what is true too. (I think) You might want to consider it. It is
availiable to anyone with an open mind.

I fear to have given offense. Not my intent. This is just a different,
(yet fairly common on earth, maybe other places too, I don't know) way of
looking at things. Too assume that the universe does not feel seems
arrogant to me. How would you know?

Best Wishes
Leland Hall
Before The Wheel Enterprises
La Pine, OR Earth

Vince Pitelka on sun 4 apr 04

Terry -
Somehow I managed to delete your message before I responded to it. Things
have been pretty busy here, so it took me a day or two to get to it. But I
needed to write some kind of answer, because your response really didn't
have anything to do with my post. You went off on some tangent about works
that are not about nature, and I am not sure what your point was, because my
post didn't have anything to do with whether or not artwork is about nature.
Maybe I can clarify my own message.

I have always loved art. After years of teaching art history, art
appreciation, design, drawing, and ceramics, I love almost every kind of
art, as long as it is done with passion and meaning. I love going to
galleries and museums, immersing myself in the work, wondering at the
artist's time and place, and the incentives for creating art. Good art
inspires me.

But much more than that, I am a lover of the natural world, preferably far
away from the works of humankind, because most of the works of human kind
have done nothing but damage the natural world. No work of humankind has
ever remotely approached the beauty of nature. In the natural work are
things more pure, more perfect, more beautiful, more inspiring than anything
humankind has ever created or can ever create. The beauties of the natural
world are so wondrous, so inspiring, so incredible, that I cannot imagine
the possibility of human artists ever creating anything to surpass them.

I agree with Leland. We are just animals, along with all the other animals
on Earth, and they all have just as much right to be here as we do. Because
we have developed superior power over science, technology, medicine, etc.,
it is up to us to use our knowledge and skills responsibly, protecting our
planet and the other species that live on it, sacrificing our standard of
living when necessary to insure the ongoing health of the planet. We are a
long way from that, but we will get there, because we have no other choice.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft, Tennessee Technological University
Smithville TN 37166, 615/597-6801 x111,