A week ago my wife and I attended a beautiful wedding ceremony on the shore of Sebago Lake just north of Portland ME. Jamie (the Bride) was a student of mine at Winnacunnet High School fifteen years ago. The fellow she married, Matt, was also a Winnacunnet alumni but unfortunately never took a Ceramics class.
I was looking forward seeing not just Matt and Jamie but other Winnacunnet alumni as well. My hopes were realized and several faces both familiar and unfamiliar shared with me stories of their families both old and new, career tracks, world travels and other things they do and love. They also told me stories of things made, both new and old and the value and importance of specific pieces that were made in their high school ceramics classes. I heard about mugs and bowls that still get used, about vases that sit on mantels, dishes that hold car keys or small pots that still sit on parents windowsills.
It is in these stories where the power of objects live. Telling stories is what we do and when there’s an object to link the story to the object it then becomes something other, something sacred, something evocative. Author Sherry Turkle says it beautifully in her introduction to the book by the same title, Evocative Objects: Things we think with, ” We find it familiar to consider objects as useful or aesthetic, as necessities or vain indulgences. We are on less familiar ground when we consider objects as companions to our emotional lies or as provocations to thought. The notion of evocative objects brings together these two less familiar ideas, underscoring the inseparability of thought and feeling in our relationship to things. We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with.”
The stories those pots hold are about learning to take risks, trust, confidence, self-belief, aesthetic awareness, aesthetic searching, curiosity, wonderment, joy, gifting, grace, community and connection with both self and others.
This weekend wedding reacquainted me with a chef, a drug and alcohol councilor, a special education teacher, a hairdresser a police officer and a graphic designer. To be witness and catalyst to these stories in the making is evidence to why I am blessed to have the career I do. Don’t be fooled; teaching art isn’t about teaching “A”rt.