Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Gift To The Hand

Pottery and other crafts are a gift to the hand. Well-designed ware is the product of skilled artisans whose trained gestures are re-created by the user just as a device that plays music re-creates the movement of the players. It's an advantage to be able to handle first-rate work.

An antique collector once showed me a plate that was a product of the highest level of privilege in its culture. He casually picked it up, nearly waved it in the air as he discussed its qualities, and handed it to me as easily as one would pass a latte' in a paper cup. I gasped and sat down to take a closer look. The form and decoration of the plate were as straightforward and ingenuous as the watercolor paintings of Seattle's Jim Peck, who taught at Cornish.

It is my pleasure to rent a miniature plastic house from my kid. It's part of an encyclopedic line of parlor toys. I have a small collection of fine furnishings that are in scale with the structure and are used (at first) under careful supervision. I believe a child benefits from informal acquaintance with the best that humanity knows how to produce, easy tutorials undistorted by the pressures of formal education.


Privilege takes many forms. A leaf is as beautiful and sophisticated as any work of art and less stressful to store. Any pebble reflects the same powerful forces that produce a lively pot. Often, the "found art" of street litter is as beautifully formed as sculpture -30- 

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