Monday, April 21, 2014

work work work!

Since July 2013, I somehow have not got any mind space to update my blog, as I have been working non-stop all these days. Now, I have got two weeks before I start travelling again. I started this blog started for that reason- to use the space as a logbook, keeping record of my work. So much has happened since the beginning of 2011 (a big change in my life / career when I went to attend Woodfire Tasmania) that I sometimes feel I have lost the sense of time, and I keep finding myself going back this blog to check what happened when!

End of July 2013 I went to Fuping, China where a group of Indian ceramic artists were invited to create a body of work as a part of a residency and leave behind all the produced work for their permanent collection. At the same time I was short listed for the Emerging Artist category at the ICMEA conference at Fuping and I got to be a part of the India Ceramic Artsis’ group too. We worked there for six weeks and despite all kinds of constraints when the final day of the show happened we all felt proud about how wonderful the show looked. The place of work despite the shortage of facilities and language problems was great, as we could make all that what we wanted to make, there was plenty of clay, everything was new so it was a good challenge. I am fortunate for two things: one, I got to fire a wood kiln with Tim Rowan who was there for a residency and to receive the first Janet Mansfield award. I got to see how he does the reduction cooling, about which I have been very curious. Two, I got Aarti Vir as my roomie. So despite not getting hot water for shower, having to sit on the hotel corridors searching for Internet signals and the pretty bad hotel food, Aarti and I enjoyed our stay, we even got to share the studio space. Our evening drinks in the room and the constant discussions about the work (and everything under the sun) that’s perhaps the only part of the whole trip, which I feel nostalgic about!
And yes, the work felt good. I also realized a few things in this trip, mainly understanding that having worked in different studios since 2011 had helped me a great deal, much more than I could imagine, in order to deal with the material and come to quick decisions and to adapt myself based on what was available.

 Aarti and I sharing the studio

 Firing the wood-kiln with Tim Rowan

 Opening of the show

I returned from Fuping, to two main events. One, I was showing my work at United Art Fair curated by Heidi Fitchner, in New Delhi and I wanted to fire my kiln before I left for my residency at Chris Gustin’s in October.

I was in touch with Chris Gustin for over a year till we finally met at the NCECA Huston, 2013, at the Dirt Bar! I remember trying to look for a street without having a map or a GPS in the middle of the night, trying to meet up with Chris. Thankfully I also met my friend Eric Knoche there, and we both met Chris. It was so wonderful to finally meet him I decided to go visit his studio after I was done with the residency at Flynn Creek pottery in Mendocino. Around the same time, I was offered a chance to do a solo show at Newport Art Museum in 2015, and especially around the time when NCECA would travel to Providence and Newport Art Museum was trying to show more ceramics. I couldn’t believe myself when the curatorial director asked me the question, I so wanted to so say yes, but all I could think of was “how the hell am I going to put together a show in the US where I don’t have my studio?” so I asked her for two days time.
The very next day, I was meeting Chris Gustin and Seth Rainville for a lunch. As we were chatting I told them about the possibility of the show and Chris immediately said, “why would u want to bring the work from India, just come and work in my studio” I immediately took his offer and told the Newport Museum my answer was yes!

So I came to Horseneck Road in October, South Dartmouth to work in Chris’s studio. Very soon I was working 10 hours a day and filling the studio with work, and I was honored with a title “Clay Hog!” When you start working in a new studio you never know how that’s going to be. The relationships of people who are already been there for long, their dynamics, their work rhythms. I usually go with the flow, observe everything for the first few weeks and see where I fit in. It was however so easy and organic to feel as a part of the Horseneck road community. Jim Lawton, Steve Murphy, Dan whom I missed this time, Seth Rainville, Chris Archer, Nancy, Rose, Ryan and of course Chris and his cat, Rango- I felt like they were my community. They made me feel so welcomed and loved and special, am so looking forward to seeing them all and firing with them again.
In October and November I made so much work, also large-scale work, which I had to leave behind in the studio raw, and wait for them to dry slowly. I high fired only few of the pieces in the November firing and got some amazing results. Chris was kind enough to bisque fire the rest once they were dry. Now I will go back in another two weeks to slip/glaze them and fire them in Chris’s June firing.
Chris and Seth also made me a part of a wonderful group show at Artworks in Newbedford. Jim Lawton welcomed me to give a talk at UMASS ceramic department. Seth and I started collaborating on a project for a show during NCECA 2015. So much happened in two months that for the first time, when it was time for me to leave I was not ready to leave!

In the last two years I have struggled each time I have come back to Pondy. Not that I don’t like it here, not that I don’t have a community of clay people here. My home, which I have built, just the way I wanted is here. My Mojo is here, this cat is special in my life, I miss her everyday when am away. Now the puppy Butter has forced his way into my life and now I am totally falling for him too. Two of my best friends Deepi and Mal are here. But I feel a disconnect each time when I return. Dealing with the horrible neighbors or the Tamil rowdies on the street seems that much more difficult each time. The only way I feel centered and I deal with the world is when I start to work again. So as soon as I came back mid November I started to work, and did a firing in my kiln. The whole of December to now, I worked non-stop- in my studio, preparing for a firing, in my garden and eating out of my garden when I can, swimming everyday, doing yoga and having my precious coffee conversations with Mal, dealing with cold wars between Mojo and Butter and loving them…From last two days I am beginning to feel its time to move again.

 Steve Murphy's gift- Conenator!

 Mojo's birthday

Its tough not knowing how the work is going to turn out. To leave behind work half done, in another continent and not think about it or wake up with nightmares about them breaking! I have made so much work that I have a vague feeling I am going to earn the title “Kiln Hog’ this time! But I should know by the end of this residency in July 2014 about how much work I have for my show, and am looking forward for knowing that.

Suddenly as I write down all the things happened in the last 8 months, it all makes sense and begins look as a whole.

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