Sunday, March 23, 2008

Digging a Deep Well

The potter Ken Ferguson was a friend of my parents; he and my father traded work. There is a new book about his work. I love quotes I can sink my heart and mind into and this one jumped out at me:
My students have often heard me say, 'You have to dig a deep well.'
The problem people have understanding the phrase 'digging a deep well' is that people don't realize that it doesn't have to be within the world of ceramics, and it doesn't have to be about art. 'Digging a deep well' is an experience, a challenge, something you've done or that you've faced which forced you to make a decision. You had to decide where to focus. Are you going to get the best of it, or is it going to get the best of you? These things make you a stronger, more sensitive, more passionate person; a person, willing to be tolerant and understanding, able to focus on work and less critical of other's work.
It has to do with intellectual curiosity. An afternoon spent by observing a phenomena of nature and then drawing it, studying it, examining it, trying to figure out how it happens, why it happens and the answers to all of those questions. You go outside of yourself. You have a new experience, and you try to understand it.
[Incidentally, Ken's sweet wife, Gertrude, gave me a copy of  Song of the Lark when I was a child. I didn't read the book for many years but when I did, I immediately read every Willa Cather book.]

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