When I was in high school, I watched first hand as arts programs were threatened and lost priority and funding at my school. I went to a liberal arts, college prep high school and art classes were an essential part to our(the students) day to day lives. Going to a college prep high school meant having an incredibly demanding workload matched by impossibly high expectations, on top of which I was playing a varsity sport and we were just getting into tournament which meant more rigorous practices. Under that amount of pressure, anyone could snap. It’s for that reason that I sought refuge in any form I could find it, even if it meant taking myself out of my crowd.
When I found out the only art class I could fit in my schedule was pottery, I reluctantly agreed on the condition that my best friend join the class as well. On the first day of class, we were divided into two groups. Because there were only enough wheels for half of us to work at a time, the other half of the class make coil pots. My friend and I were separated and since I didn’t have any other friends there, I was alone with my thoughts.
When we began throwing on the wheel, I picked it up instantly. Once my hands hit the clay I was hooked. Day after day I showed up and spent an hour experimenting on the wheel. Most days I walked out of the studio with nothing to show for it other than a more refined technique I could use to make a better piece. I began to use this time to clear my head and try to gain perspective in things. After a long day of work that left me mentally exhausted, I could sit down, close my eyes, and center my clay on the wheel. Once the clay was centered, I’d take a dripping wet sponge out of the water bucket and squeeze it over the clay, applying pressure to the foot pedal to make the wheel rotate. When the clay was wet enough to work, I’d push my palm into the center of the rotating wheel to flatten it. I’d watch the pattern my fingers made radiating out from the center of the clay carrying the stress of the day with them.