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