An Admission of Nervousness

A 37

Baby me in 1996, on a ‘mountain’ in Wales.

I’m headed for a (another) re-boot and it makes me really nervous.

I’ve been living in the same place for 9 months now and I’m about to leave it for a series of really awesome opportunities that I’m thrilled about and at the same time, make me feel vulnerable. I have an amazing, blessed life. Maintaining a balance of healthy relationships, nurturing gratitude, and keeping up with my own ambitions and commitments, is a challenge that I try but sometime fail at.

A broken web camera became a stumbling block for me this week.

I was getting ready to video chat with my nieces this past Thursday and the camera on my laptop wasn’t working. I could see them and they could hear me, but the built-in camera wasn’t working. There were a few moments of stress, my eldest niece was now upset because she wasn’t going to be able to see the new books I got from the library to read to them. I was upset because I love getting to hang with the girls but sometimes technology can upend your expectations. I came up with a work-around, using my iTouch to video chat. But the screen is so small that i could hardly see them.

I’ve grown accustomed to being able to maintain treasured relationships via technology. I know in my heart that these moments of video and voice connection are no replacement for the real thing. But they’re what I have right now as I travel, job to job, project to project. The life of an artist / academic post-grad school can be very itinerant.

I need my family and friends. I need to see and hear and feel loved and heard by people who have known me for longer than a few months. I need to have people I can give to, to be there for. I tend to be slow at building intimate friendships and so I lean fairly heavily on the ones I already have. And so when you travel as much as I do, and am about to do, the technology becomes vital.

When the camera broke, I entered a spiral of stressful questions: What if I have to get an external camera? Where the hell am I going to put it in the bags that already seem like they’re going to be beyond full? I can’t afford to spend that money right now. What if my computer breaks while I’m traveling and I can’t read to the girls anymore? What if I miss it, what if I miss all the important things about them growing up? What if I’m already missing all the important things? What if they don’t know me when I come visit because I stay away for too long? What if? What if I’m fucking all of this up?

Crazy town.

What am I doing? Well, I got a job in Italy. After three years of being in grad school and one as a visiting assistant professor both in small mid-western towns, I’m going to be back and forth from Italy for the next year. In fact, I’m not planning to have a permanent place to live for the next two years.

I can do this. I know I can. I’m thrilled about the things I’m going to get to do, and see, and taste! I’ll be going kayaking in Croatia, going back to the pub in Oxford I worked at when I was 18 years old, revisiting friends in Venice, presenting at an international conference, putting up a solo show in Italy… endless, endless once-in-a-lifetime events. Just promise that some of you will hang out with me on the way. And that when I get back, we’ll still be as thick as thieves.

The adventure continues….



We had a lovely fire at the Bard House on Sunday night; a wine and fire, sit around in the back yard, tell stories, sing songs, read poems kind of night.

I read the list of 60 senses, by Paulus Berensohn. Afterwards, one of my housemates said that hearing it was trance-like, meditative. And so I share with you, the senses, as listed in Lewis Hyde’s essay The Senses of Penland, which can be found in The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience.

In honor of the swiftest of Springs, and the awakening of sense after a winter’s rest.


1) sense of light and sight–including polarized light

2) sense of seeing without eyes, such as heliotropism or the sun sense of plants

3) sense of color

4) sense of moods and identities attached to colors

5) sense of awareness of one’s own visibility or invisibility and consequent camoflaging

6) sensitivity to radiation other than visible light including radio waves, x-rays, etc.

7) sense of temperature and temperature change

8) sense of season, including ability to insulate, hibernate, and winter sleep

9) electromagnetic sense and polarity as in the nervous system and brain waves

10) hearing, including resonance, vibrations, sonar, and ultrasonic frequencies

11) awareness of pressure, particularly underground, underwater, and to wind and air

12) sensitivity to gravity

13) the sense of excretion for wast elimination and protection from enemies

14) feel, particularly touch on the skin

15) sense of weight, gravity, and balance

16) space or proximity sense

17) coriolis sense or awareness of effects of earth’s rotaion

18) body movement sensations and sense of mobility

19) smell with and beyond the nose

20) taste with and beyond the tongue

21) appetite and hunger

22) hunting, killing, or food-obtaining urges

23) humidity sense, including thirst, evaporation control and the acumen to find water

24) hormonal sense, as to pheromones and other chemical stimuli

25) pain, external and internal

26) mental or spiritual distress

27) sense of fear, dread of injury, death, or attack

28) procreative urges, including sex awareness, courting, love, mating, paternity and raising young

29) sense of play, sport, humor, pleasure and laughter

30) sense of physical place, navigation senses, including detailed awareness of land and seascapes, of the positions of sun, moon, and stars

31) sense of time

32) sense of electromagnetic fields

33) sense of weather changes

34) sense of emotional place, of community, belonging, support, trust and thankfulness

35) sense of self, including friendship, companionship and power

36) domineering and territorial sense

37) colonizing sense, including receptive awareness of one’s fellow creatures–sometimes to the degree of being absorbed into a super organism

38) horticultural sense and the ability to cultivate crops, as is done by ants who grow fungus, by ants who farm algae, or birds who leave food to attract their prey

39) language and articulation sense, used to express feelings and convey information in every medium from the bee’s dance to human literature

40) sense of humility, appreciation, ethics

41) sense of form and design

42) reasoning, including memory and the capacity for logic and science

43) sense of mind and consciousness

44) intuition or subconscious deduction

45) aesthetic sense, including creativity and appreciation of beauty, music, literature, form, design and drama

46) psychic capacity, such as foreknowledge, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychokenesis, astral projection and possibly certain animal instincts and plant sensitivities

47) sense of biological and astral time, awareness of past, present and future events “next” (left brain)

48) the capacity to hypnotize other creatures

49) relaxation and sleep, including dreaming, meditation, brain wave awareness

50) sense of pupation, including cocoon building and metamorphosis

51) sense of excessive stress and capitulation

52) sense of survival by joining a more established organism

53) spiritual sense, including conscience, capacity for sublime love, ecstasy, a sense of sin, profound sorrow and sacrifice

54) sense of awe

55) sense of imagination

56) sense of tension and release in the body

57) sense of chi

58) sense of humor sense of balance

59) sense of story and how it links us up with the cosmic–the universe story

60) sense of being known–Bushmen “wherever they went they felt they were known”





Artist Residencies : A Discussion


Me printing for Pilchuck Glass School Artist in Residence, Alison Saar in 2010.

This past weekend I had the honor of moderating a conversation on artist residencies between residents from Arrowmont School of Arts and Craft, Appalachian Center for Craft, and Penland School of Crafts. In the midst of listening and asking questions I also managed to type up some notes. I’m going to pass their wisdom on to you in mostly bullet point form. And I’m sorry that I can’t attribute the info to particular people, but writing, listening, and talking at the same time is like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. All of the answers given were far more eloquent than my notes suggest, these are just a taste of the things we talked about over almost two hours.

The artists on my panel were:

Robin Johnston, Penland Res. (fiber)

Micah Evans, Penland Res. (glass)

Ashley Gilreath, Arrowmont Res.(metalsmithing)

Bryce Brisco, App. Center Res.(clay)
Amanda Ross, App. Center Res.(fiber)


Eleanor Richards, App. Center Res. (wood)



Oh, and here are some resources for finding residencies that I collected for the talk.

Alliance of Artist Communities –

ResArtis –

National Parks –


Artist Trust –

TransArtist –

Wooloo –

Café –

How did you find the residency you are a part of?

By listening to my Instructors

By accident, from grad students

Research – of organizations but also of myself and my goals

By looking for organization who had the equipment I need


What to look for when considering a residency? What was your vision for your time as a resident?

Location and equipment

Consider your environment do you want  a different environment (scared) and think about how that will effect your work> move to a bigger city not only about what is a good location but how will it enrich your work life. Do you wanting to leave the big city and change your pace?

Changing pace and discovering more about your work between school experiences.

Some practice with teaching outside of academia

Concentrate and build moment while near more creative energy

Studio time and community

Do your residencies live up to your visions?

I found that I’m processing different things through the residency than I thought I was going to, but processing none-the-less

My goal was to set up studio of my own – small goals through my residency lead to the larger goal.

Still in progress and hitting my goals, but they’re constantly in flux. The bar is always shifting

The cover letter or statement of intent can be idealistic or more elegant than what actually transpires.

Self directed work –  How do you do this? and How do you deal with constant shifts in the personal definition of success?

Residency offers a peer group to work with and motivate with / compete with. – You see your community’s success and thing “I want that too, I want to push my self to reach those goals”

Change relates to time – the length of the residency changes the mindset for the work you want to get done.

Change and notice of work patterns is being stretched out over long period vs. a short

Penland specifically asks for people to apply in a transition point. So you have to examine that change.

Time management

As a potter the work changes at a glacial speed, but feels different all the time

Getting out of the institution and see how potters who live in the real world

Learning to be part of community – other people and other mediums.

Enriching and helping you find out what you love about this medium

People to be in conversation with exchanging ideas, philosophies, and opportunities

Isolation as a good thing or a bad thing – allowing yourself to be alone to just make, personal editing skills.

Isolate yourself and contemplate your work but when you need community it’s there. People to talk to.

Quality of community – asking same questions but residencies offer you the opportunity to have a more precise audience

Are there differences between short term residencies and long term ones?

Short – blitz of work

Long – over whelming amt of time for setting goals

For each one you should invest in it as though it was going to last forever

Fully commit to the adventure

Do your residencies have work commitments? How does this effect your art work?

Studio maintenance, work shops, teaching locally – the work for the school allows me to learn new skills

Benefits – you have to learn how to maintain a studio, to teach, requirements vary, it depends on the kind of work that you do.

As a resident at a school do you have the opportunity to mentor, or be mentored? Do the schools offer you more exposure?

We meet kids from the county, we teach them art classes, teaching classes to other local students

Penland – demonstrate for the classes – more invites to shows – peripheral stuff  more opportunites from networking than from applying to things. As a resident you get hammered into their brains long term experience to people who will be in the field for years to come.

Exposure to teachers that you admire

Exposure to work and media that is new to you

Resources in the other departments to ask for help and inspiration

The people you don’t know you’re going to meet. That is a great benefit.

Does it change your work to be in a position of  responsibility?

Being a state subsidized artist puts stress on oneself to use it for everything it’s worth.

It’s like you become an ambassador for that program, you are the face of the residency or the school.

A little on display. But after a while you ease into it. Plus the weight of the people who have come before you and living up to that.

I’m not only leaving the residency but carrying it with you from then on.

And you don’t know if you will ever have the opportunity again.

Micah is the first flame-working resident at Penland, so pressure of the residency and his peers

Responsibility of being a mentor and a role model, to students

How do you afford the residency?





Established production business

Implement practices now that will make a sustainable life later. The work you make while subsidized will be sustainable later

Craft shows


Work for non-profit

Work for other artists


Production lines

Part time jobs

Visiting artist stipends from universities

Student loans

Conferences / scholarships

Do the residencies require you to make work?

Pieces for collection

Annual shows


Unexpected challenges and how have you over come them?

Programming and saying yes to them all

Studio space connected to larger workshop, not entirely private, guy gossip time, distracting, modifying practice to over come that

Opposite challenge – not enough people around to talk to – force myself to find people and bring them in

Long distance relationship – takes a toll on family and fiancé


Thanks again to all the artists for such a great conversation!