Last week I arrived a little early for an appointment near my old neighborhood. I took advantage of those few minutes to drive by the old house. Our first house. It was a bit of a fixer-upper. It had been a rental for years; empty for the last year. The previous occupants had not been easy on this home. We did a lot of repairing, replacing, fumigating (oh the stories I could share…eek!), cleaning, deodorizing, and more cleaning. Evidence suggested there were more varmints in the house than humans.
About 16 years ago, we sold that house to a couple that fell in love with the open floor plan, built in shelving, and hardwood floors. Things they said reminded them of home (wherever that was). They were comfortable.
Perhaps too comfortable.
As I drove past the house, I noticed that they never changed the café curtains and fabric insets on the interior window shutters. You may think nothing of keeping the same curtains for so many years (grandma did). I understand that. However, one of the rooms was our son’s nursery/toddler room. So then, the primary polka-dot trimmed sunny yellow curtains hung in the window…still. Supposing they used that room for a young child, their sweet little bundle or joy would be 15 years old today! These people were way too comfortable.
Comfortable can be a good thing in that it provides a sense of security. But comfortable also grows stale and can isolate; keep someone from learning, growing, stepping out, taking risks…changing. Change is scary and necessary. Too often we fight change. Honestly, change is going to happen whether you choose to participate or not. Committing to the latter simply magnifies the fear; overshadowing the lesson.
In my sculpture class, I have purposefully restricted technique applications to force students to change what they are comfortable with (I’ve been referred to as ‘the mean instructor’ – and a few other creative monikers – on more than one occasion). But, just to be sure the students are stretching and pushing themselves, I also require that they work with a familiar material. My goal is for them to take risks; to work with the familiar in an unfamiliar manner. They are uncomfortable. They fight and struggle. It’s frustrating.
In the end, they learn; creating options they never thought possible. One day they may appreciate the process – though, not any time soon.
~mark your calendars!
The 10th Annual Self-Guided Ceramics Studio Tour
February 26-27, 2011
10am-4pm each day
I will be hosting three very talented artists: Genie Swanstrom, Sam Hodges and Sarah Brodie at my studio (#14). Demontrations will take place at each studio site throughout the weekend.
This link will take you to The Ceramic Research Center’s Events page where you can download a map with the demontration schedule.