4/24/13

Chance


An art student in England with a thesis on chance asked me about my work. Some thoughts:
In my work with clay and saggar/pit fire, I designed, over time, a process that maximized chance to good effect. Then I simplified, focused it and let it go. I paint with a palette of accidents, capturing the serendipity printed from the fire onto the clay. I make nests of mineral soaked straw to hold an egg-like form. I vary the oxygen, time and temperature of the fire. Chance is what makes it come alive. What comes out of the kiln, although a direct result of what goes in is always a surprise and echoes the random beauty of nature’s skies and scapes.

I find site specific installations provide another interaction with chance. I bring parts made in the studio to a site with an idea. I respond to the site in the installation and then give it up to the inspiration of wind and rain and tides and the unexpected. It is what makes it risky and gets adrenaline flowing.

 Embracing the accidental is slightly different from accepting the accidental. Both are of value. In accepting the unexpected we learn to appreciate the accidental, to notice the effects of chance, and then to embrace it. The next step is to encourage it with process, to learn to use chance as a tool, and then to balance chaos and order to create beauty.

This approach is influenced by Japanese and Korean love of the irregular in ceramics, Zen, Confucian and Taoist ideas, western and scientific ideas—the constancy of change, for example—and oneness.

One can wonder if this giving of the work to chance is avoidance of making a choice. I like to think it is the choice.

Images from surfaces of flame painted clay pots.