Around 12 years ago when I had finally realized the dream of having a pottery studio in my house, and was toying with the idea about going back to school to study fine art, I suddenly was interrupted by clear direction that I should move to China. While I knew that China was a genesis point of much in ceramic art history, the opportunity that had opened up to me was not related to that facet of China or that facet of my own life. I surrendered and did not look back.
This fall, I did end up going back to school finally, but my graduate studies are in East Asian Studies, focusing on China. I considered taking art history classes in my program, but there were none that matched my interest. So, I have been studying a wide variety of cross disciplinary subjects from modern Chinese literature to Chinese domestic politics to anthropology. One of the classes was in environmental anthropology. I took the class because my work in China has been in the non-profit sector, and thus I’m interested in environmental issues in China. However, the class does not just examine issues, but also how ideas and innovation come from how cultures interact with their environment. It turned out my professor was interested in knowing more about how dragon kilns came to be conceived in southern China, but said he knew almost nothing about ceramics. I told him I did to which he replied that I should make that my research project then. So, I have.
So, as I do this research I find myself meditating on our dust-like nature which I have written about elsewhere. And sort of amazed that this lifelong love of mine keeps coming back around full circle, just like clay on the potter’s wheel.