Thursday, January 22, 2015

the plate as talisman..

I was thrilled to be featured in the My Space column in the Dec/Jan 2015 issue of House Beautiful. Not only do I still love and appreciate printed magazines and cherish the ability to tear out images, it is also a lovely way to connect with the public and I love letting people into my world here a little bit.
Often times the things we purchase and collect are made by people we never see or get to know in any way. The days of walking into the village and interacting with the crafts people making your utilitarian and decorative items has withered, though there is a resurgence of small shops showcasing local work--I like visiting those places when I travel and surely appreciate learning about what is being crafted where I am.
As a maker/crafter myself, I enjoy being represented not only here in San Francisco, but all over the country in small shops and larger ones where people can interact with the tableware.
It is also why I love to make the work I do for places like the DeYoung Museum here in San Francisco and Silver Oak Vineyards up in Napa-- the feedback I get from those places is how people come in and collect pieces as a way of reminding them of their time and experiences there. I can totally relate as I do the same thing when I travel- it can be a local artist's work or an interestingly shaped twig or stone that I will cherish as a memento.

some of my collections at home..

Working mostly solo here at the studio I don't often get to see firsthand people interacting with my work so am always grateful when folks reach out and tell me about it. Recently I have had some particularly touching experiences with users of my work. One is from the most lovely family who recently suffered a tremendous loss. They were housebound for a long time caring for an ill child who finally succumbed to his illness this year. She had ordered plates during this time of convalescence as a way of cheering up the house a bit and enhancing meal time. The imagery of the plates and the meaning they had for her was "healing" she told me and truly lifted their spirits. While we often think of 'things' as materialistic or not necessary, we forget that objects can act as talismans and vessels of spirit and an outlet for emotions. Religious art has played that role forever as well as folk art's place in many cultures. It can be rustic, it can be crude- but if it conveys something to your soul and helps, that is what's important. So hearing about the healing properties of the plates was special to me indeed.
People will often pick up a plate, examine the images and tell me what it is, what they see and perhaps what it means to them personally.  That is always fascinating to me as two people will look at the same plate and see completely different things and take away, something totally separate and unique.
In addition, having worked with some restaurants to make their plates has elevated this process to a level of true integration of experiential opportunities. The other contacts I have been having lately are from several folks who used to frequent Station 1 restaurant in Woodside, where I made all of the tableware. It was such a special place that Zu and Kristi put together and it was a sad day when they had to close due to lease issues. A lot of people celebrated important occasions there and have contacted me to commission a set of plates to remind them of their time spent there..and eating on the tableware was a big part of it. One particular comment I loved was from a young woman who loved bringing out of town visitors there and spoke of how excited they were to "see which of the pieces we'd been 'dealt' with our meal"-- I love that.. She is getting married and is interested in having this experience to offer in her own home.
It is with great joy that I get to do what I do. I am very fortunate to satisfy my own creative urges while feeding someone else's. This is a new year now full of opportunity to create more, observe more and record what I see in clay. It heals me and I like that it does so for others as well.