Christina and I became fast friends after she told me the story about pottery jerking off. Our mutual fascination/obsession with clay and glaze became a strong bond (pun intended), and we also both had a sense of urgency because she was permanently moving out of the country. Still, it took nearly two months of very quick exchanges before we could really have a significant amount of time to spend together in the pottery studio. Having young children and trying to move out-of-country is a lot to juggle, and Christina is so chill that she’s not the most organized person on the planet. BUT, her being chill is also exactly why she was super easy to get along with, and I quickly found myself revealing my true twisted-humoured self that I usually keep suppressed at school. (She was the second person I told about my stories here because I knew my writings would not pass the official-unofficial censorship board at our conservative Christian private school.)
In the short time (altogether) we spent together, Christina and I talked A LOT about art: its purpose, how to preserve it, how to encourage it, how to express it, how to encourage others (especially students) to express it. Our conversations about the benefits, both personally and societally, were at times really uplifting and therapeutic. Dang I’m going to miss those moments so much in the coming months! (At the time I’m writing this, she’d been gone only two weeks.) Here is the board where she wrote out the guidelines for her students in creating pieces to submit to the end-of-school high school art show:
She talked about technique, how it’s great if one perfects it, but if there’s no soul to a work of art, it won’t give someone looking at it a sense of life or vibrancy and ultimately won’t create much of a lasting impression. By the way, whenever Christina makes something (especially for someone), she’s really thinking of that someone’s well-being and their relationship and her own purpose of wanting to encourage someone with her art. Same if she’s making something for herself; she’s really thinking about her life journey and meaning of what art brings to life. It may sound corny, but Christina’s artwork can really be physical manifestations of her soul and her prayers.
While we talked, Christina picked up pieces scattered throughout the studio to demonstrate the soul she was trying to define. She also talked about balance and colour, how a perfectly symmetrical or otherwise mathematically pleasing shape could be undone if it somehow lacks the appropriate hue and tone. Or how the opposite could be true: the glazing could be perfect, but if the sculpture doesn’t have the right form, nobody would see what the sculpture is trying to depict. That’s when she picked up this piece to explain how all the factors work together:
My serious response: “I know that’s supposed to be two abstract people warmly embracing each other, maybe comforting each other in grief — but is that not the most phallic thing you’ve ever seen??”
Christina’s widened eyes stared blankly at me for a prolonged second, then blinked a few slow times, then she let out a huge peal of laughter.
It was all downhill after that. I just continued to pick up pieces to say, “Okay this looks really dirty.” Or “This is so suggestive.” Or just exaggeratingly exhale with a raised eyebrow. Even if they weren’t — sometimes it takes maturity to know when to be immature. Finally I came across this piece and said, “Oh THIS is definitely dirty.”
Christina: [bewildered stare, but much shorter than previous ones because I had already conditioned her with my perversion] “Yeah okay we need to get you some help.”
She had no idea…
* * *
A few months later, we had to sadly say goodbye (for now) because she was moving away from the country. On her last night in town, we stayed in the pottery room late at night with another friend (Jenna) and Christina’s college-aged daughter. Christina had fired one kiln-load of glazed ceramics, and the four of us ooh-ed and boo-ed the results. One piece that came out was a teapot-and-lid set that was made by Christina’s predecessor but glazed by Christina’s daughter.
Jenna said, “That lid, in no way, looks like a nipple.”
So we all laughed, and I was relieved that Jenna (who, this was something like the third time we had met) was someone with whom I could also unleash my twisted sense of humour. Too bad she wasn’t within earshot when Christina’s daughter was holding up this next piece and making jokes about it:
I said (in low-volume) to Christina, “That, in no way, looks like a…” (and I let it dangle).
Christina turned around, with a facial expression much like the very first time I told her an abstract art piece looked phallic, and super-quietly eeked the words, “It’s… an.. ostrich.”
Still looked phallic to me.