Thursday, March 8, 2012

Body Awareness: Can You Touch an Idea?

In yesterday's post I played around with thinking about blank spaces and how we can solve problems from lots of angles.

Mimosa pudica

I started to think about when I first started doing ceramics, before I understood it would lead to sculpture. My teacher that semester, my friend and colleague Sachi Akiyama, was working furiously to get some of her large sculptures finished for a show. Her stuff is cool.

Sachi told me something I never thought of before: Doing sculpture develops body awareness.

What did she mean? I interpreted her statement to mean that one's interaction with the medium (she does larger-than life sculptures from wood) requires an awareness. Of the hands, the shoulders, the torso, even the legs. If you are involved with your sculpture you understand it in relation to your own body.


I've written about this before in terms of thinking that sculpture is an extension of your heart, brain, and hands. But I think there's something else there.

When you are playing with the clay you are solving clay problems. The clay wants to behave like clay. You want it to do your thing.

Cleaning Kiln Shelves

While you're trying to get the clay to behave you are devoting thought, energy, and action to the material. So you are solving the problem with your body.

Solving a problem with one's body....sounds strange. By physically engaging the clay, can we say we are "physically engaging" a problem? By extension, can we say that we are engaging ideas with our body?

Sphinx Moth and Viburnum
I think yes. And if solving clay problems with your physical body is possible, touching an idea is not far off.

Ancient Assyrian pollinator

1 comment:

  1. I like the quote from Sachi Akiyama: Doing sculpture develops body awareness.
    Years ago I worked in a commercial pottery, throwing simple pots day after day.
    The clay always wants to do its own thing.
    I had to learn to work with the clay, rather than impose my own pre-determined idea from the moment it hit the wheel.
    Of course, I still had my quota to make, so eventually the clay had to go my way.
    And if it didn't?
    "Back to the pug-mill with you. See you next time round!"
    It took me a while to learn the symbiosis clay and I needed so I didn't end my working day exhausted.
    In the process, I learned a little mind control, as well as body control.