Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Zen in the Art of Ceramics

By Michele Ogilvie

Over the years, I have learned that the process of making art is a way to investigate and expand our perceptions of the world. If approached intuitively and authentically the creative process is an inspiration. The word ‘inspire’ essentially means to give life with breath. An inspiration is like an intentional inhale — a breath taken in, as one may experience during mediation and yoga. When a work of art inspires, it can move us to discover evidence of a universal and personal journey that contains the essence of life’s unexplainable, existential mysteries. Through the process of slowing down to observe the world, being introspective, and dreaming of possibilities that spring from the heart and the imagination, can we reach the healing potential of creative experience. It is through slowing down; practicing focused mindfulness; doing one thing at a time; and thinking about what is necessary that can make the act of creating a Zen experience. 

Ceramics in particular offers a window into this type of discovery because clay is a basic tactile material that physically and metaphorically connects us to the Earth in a timeless way. It is essentially a right brain activity that offers a holistic approach to learning about intangible things such as intuition, insight and sensitivity. In a beginning Ceramics class students will often declare how difficult it is because it requires a willingness to move their hands in ways that may seem quite awkward at first. It requires slowing down, focus, and a commitment to accepting that the process can be more important than the outcome. Any initial intimidation is overcome with practice, determination and patience. Once a student sees the alchemy that transpires between mud and maker, they are understandably amazed by their own handmade accomplishments. Along the way, they may have also learned some valuable things about Zen.    
© M.Ogilvie, 2015 All rights reserved.





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