I finally finished Shards, the piece pictured above, I started this piece over a year ago after a ceramicist friend gave me some of her discards—either broken, or not up to her standards on glazes, I gladly accepted them, eager to try my hand at pique assiette, a form of mosaic art that I hadn’t done before.
I planned my mosaic, and decided to do a triptych, also something I had never done. Now, I realize this is a pretty simple composition. I had envisioned an abstract with some sort of flow weaving from one panel to the next.
This "simple" piece was difficult for me. Pottery is not as easy to work with as I expected it to be. It's thick, and not so easy to shape. I know some mosaic artists that can manipulate and take command of pottery shards in such lovely ways, one would think they were working with it still in its rawest form—clay. Kath Jones' work has an earthy honesty to it. Dawn Mendelson's work is to light and airy. I have always loved both artists' work, but have a newfound respect for it now.
I started Shards fall of 2010 and had planned to have it hang in my friend's gallery that November during a solo show for the artist that had given me these shards. At the same time, a group of us had all united to try to save this gallery, which had opened its doors a week prior to the oil spill of 2010. Along with the economy, this disaster made it difficult for any business here on the Gulf Coast to stay open, much less, a new one that was devoted to such "frivolity" as art. Anyway, I had unresolved issues with the framing of the piece, so sadly, I didn't meet my deadline. Frustrated, I literally shelved it for over a year.
As the piece sat there unfinished, I thought more about its subtle message that flowed within its separate panels. To me, it represented a unity among friends--a ceramist; a painter, interior designer, and gallery owner; a mosaic artist; and a writer and poet. Our mission: to save the little gallery we all loved. I know and recognize the cliches, but feel them to be true: One's discards are another's treasures. Friends take little bits of each other's lives, good, bad, whatever, and help reassemble them into something better.
I wish I could tell you that the gallery made it. It didn't. We're all still trying to adapt to the economy. We're all still dreaming of great success, despite of it. We're all still making art. And we're all still friends. I finally got motivated to resolve the framing issues and can now call the piece completed. Here's the accompanying poem and nod to lasting friendships:
Look, they’re broken .
A cache undetected
With a randomness that whispers
For some sort of order,
These discards and debris
Swept up and left like a calling card
Upon our doorsteps.
We bring them inside,
These shards of others,
To be pieced and reassembled
Bit by bit
Pieces of one
Align with pieces
Until an integral wholeness emerges
Into a new opus.
©2010 Carolyn Wagner
I'm trying. Really, I am. I think I've turned the corner on acquiring some holiday cheer. The tree is finally decorated. I've only got a few more presents to buy. In fact, I'm almost feeling jolly. I'm certainly not a certified life coach, but I've decided to share some holiday tips with my readers on how to remain stress-free this season. Ya' ready?
Carolyn’s 20 Step Program to Alleviate Holiday Stress
(Complete teps 1-3 during Week 1, then complete steps 4-20 in one helluva day)
1) Limp home in your 5-year-old car only to learn it is in need of a new transmission
2) Drive husband’s truck and have battery/starter issues
3) Drive the “backup” car and experience clutch/gear issues. Limp the backup car to your mother’s house
4) Leave backup car in mother’s driveway and borrow mother’s car to complete holiday errands
5) Stop by post office to mail holiday packages
6) Discover you don’t have enough cash to pay for the packages
7) Find out you just used your last check
8) Reach into your purse and discover husband didn’t return your debit card when he asked to borrow it
9) Remember you have another debit card, but then make sure you forget its PIN number
10) Decide to use debit card as a credit card, and then have it “refused” because you failed too many times to remember its PIN number
11) Pull out the “secret emergency” debit card for an account you’re not really supposed to use, but will, since you are now completely frustrated
12) Discover that this never-used debit card has expired
13) Convince the nice postal worker you’ll “be right back” after you go to the bank across the street and promise to return with cash to pay for the packages
14) Return mother’s car and keep fingers crossed that you will have no more car trouble while driving the still questionable backup car you just retrieved from mother’s house
15) Get some wine and decide to get the hell home
16) Get pulled over for speeding
17) Make sure you cannot find your auto insurance information anywhere in your car, wallet, or purse
18) Give the police officer your driver’s license
19) Listen to the police officer while he tells you that your driver’s license expired mere days before
20) Thank God that you can have a sense of humor, an outlook that allows you to focus on the positive, and that you live in a small town where people are nice.
When I went back to the post office to pay for my $25 shipping charge I learned the stranger in line behind me had paid my bill for me, the police officer was kind enough to only give me a verbal warning, and I now have my own “fixed” car back. When I find myself complaining (either aloud or in my head) I give my mind a slap to remind it that there is always someone out there dealing with a lot more than I am. Though my life can be momentarily stressful and I can have my share of "inconveniences", I am blessed. And I am truly grateful for that.
Take the time to be kind to strangers (and your family) and they’ll be kind in return. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Hey, it’s another Fabulous Friday. It is really. Please excuse the seemingly self-righteous soapbox upon which I stand. It’s not. I’m just as insecure as you are. I realize the two psych classes I had in college don’t make me Dr. Phil or even Dear Abby. However, I have some friends that are going through some tough times. This is for them. Read at your own risk
1) Do not let your relationship or current lack of one define your sense of self-worth.
2) We all fail at things, but we are not failures. Failing is part of life--everyone’s life, not just yours. Trite but true, we really do learn from our mistakes.
3) Do not define your successes on the successes of others—be it marriage, business savvy, weight loss, accolades, whatever. We’re all unique. And all those other people out there do not lead perfect lives. Stop comparing yourself and your talents to others. You never know what someone else is dealing with. I wouldn’t say everyone else is a fraud. They’re just putting smiles on their faces and muddling through like the rest of us. We ALL go through crap.
4) Don’t dwell on what’s wrong. Dwell on what’s right.
5) Look around you. Look at all the things you have created. Whether it is a child, an exquisitely decorated home, a nice little corner vignette in your living room, a piece of art from deep within, a to-die-for meal, a poem for a friend, a great photo, or a cozy nurturing environment for your pet. You’ve created something beautiful and you’re awesome. Now, go make a list of all the great things you’ve done to prove my point. Post that on your mirror. Read it and believe it every day.
6) This stuff is only temporary. Times are tough. Seek help, get another job, suck it up. Put on life’s rubber boots and wade through this crap. This is only temporary. Tons of people have lost their homes and livelihoods. Do you judge them, or are you understanding? If a friend judges you, then “de-friend” them for awhile. There is no room in your life right now for “friends” like that. People have way more respect for someone that does what needs to be done, than for someone that timidly lets things fall apart for fear of what other people will think. Secondly, if it’s a stranger that judges you, who cares? It will pass. Really.
I’m stepping down now. I feel so blessed to have the imperfect life I have. I love my friends and am here for you. Call me and have a Fabulous Friday.