This is the moth I found on some rusty metal out behind the sculpture building, where “our” big kilns are.

It had some spooky, fascinating wings with irregular leafy shapes, and these wonderful portholes dow one side of its body. Reading, and thinking about, and watching a dvd about Andy Goldsworthy makes me mourn for how awake I was as a child, how aware of the natural world and able to pay attention with my whole mind. I was proud to have noticed this creature at all.

His colorations seemed to attract him to the patina of the rust. And the patterns on his skin reminded me of the sculpture students inside the building. Of all the art majors I have met and watched in the last year, the sculpture students seem most tattooed, pierced, dyed and decorated. I suppose I show my age. My earrings are deadhead-peyote-stitch-seed-beed-fringes, but the girl across from me has a barbie arm dangling from her earlobe, and the one beside me has her earring through her bottom lip. My hair is greying, while another student’s is rainbow hued; they dress in expressive and creative ways, while I am in my usual military-surplus-meets-art-fair casual. Boy scout shorts and a tye-dye.

But they are art students, and like homeschoolers, seem quirky enough individually that they don’t seem to spend much energy on other people’s quirks.

Today began my second week of driving back and forth to school. The kids have had a great play date every single day, and haven’t missed me a bit; next week, when I head for the northern woods to make my sculpture, they’ll be with the grandparents at the lake.

Class has been a real crash course in sculpture and sculptors, especially works done outdoors or as part of the environment. Today when the teachers asked each of us to define what makes good work, for us, I blurted out my honest opinions without stopping to think. I said I didn’t like straight lines and sharp angles, the gouge-across-the-desert art, the angular massive bunker shapes, the man-imposed-upon-nature stuff that seems egotistical and… anthrocentric, if there is such a word.

A tree farm planted in rows, tight together so lower branches die and don’t interfere with the board feet of lumber.. that’s not the same as a forest.

A corn field is not a meadow, its straight industrial rows planted by neccessity to suit the machines that plant and harvest. It is practical, efficient… but it’s not a meadow where damp and dry spots, high and low, sun and shade cause variations in plants, colors and blooms with soft, undulating edges.

Straight lines are for metal pole barns, walmarts, highways, power lines, com trails. Highways are not rivers. Com trails are not clouds, though the wind can be kind to them.

It doesn’t help that I am simultaneously reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and
A Geography of Nowhere”, and listening to Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” on my ipod. I suddenly resent the styro cartons of eggs laid by factory hens. I have started going out of my way to buy milk made by pastured cows. I want chickens scratching in the hedges, not in straight lines of cage batteries stacked in a metal warehouse.

I am even slightly offended by the pre-printed beeswax foundations I buy for my bee hive. Left to their own devices, they make lovely, sculptural, round ended comb, not perfect rows of straight lines.

So I told the profs how I felt. And of course, Brian Nelson the sculpture prof declared, “I think you need to work with straight lines.”

He went on to point out that he has seen my pots, and understands that I want to work with clay cob, and am leaning toward organic forms… “It seems like you are in real comfortable territory here. ”

I wailed out loud. A week’s worth of sketches, domed shapes, clay-and-stitched-chamois constructions, earth-dens with cool dark insides and light coming though in interesting ways… all shot to hell.

Why didn’t I say I hated soft, organic curves? Clay is not meant to make sharp corners.

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