When I am doing the physical work with clay, when sieving ash and mixing glazes; from the building of the kiln, and through each of its firings; I am constantly made aware that in the resolution of one problem lies the kernel of a new.
The process of Making, conveyed by our senses, developed through practice and emerging memories, emerges as our ability to transform a conflict into an interaction.
I find it in the idea of “bonding” from Attachment theory, when working through conflicts with my children; and in the concept of “dialectics” when the contradiction between two conflicting forces are viewed as the determining factor in their continuing interaction.
I grew up among worlds of conflicts: my parents were WWII survivors, from Poland and Germany, two of the many different cultures of those Jews who came from the Diaspora to Israel; I moved among Jews and Arabs, in the midst of the Palestinian conflict; even my own relationship to my body as evolving into a woman and a woman’s changing place in our world.
Perhaps this is why the work seems endless and never complete. However, at the same time, I see its livelihood cycle; from raw earth, through the fire, and towards its formation, which I view as dialectical. I strive to embrace the interactions among conflicting forces in my work, whether during the firing phases, or in the relationship between the evolving form and the concept it attempts to embody.
In my attempt to be tuned to the kiln, built of new and reused materials, I look for the right spots of reduction and of oxidation, the cold and the hot pockets, and the differing time needed for each reaction. With each firing, as I load and unload the pieces, I am excited to recall Bertolt Brecht’s words to Walter Benjamin, as they argued over the qualities and worth of Kafka’s despairing parables:
Do not build on the good old days, but on the bad new ones! (BB to WB, August 25 1934)