Monday, November 23, 2009

Little Pig! Little Pig!

Let us in!

My son Josh is in the back of his clay studio sleeping in his loft. His cell phone is turned off and my husband, Joe, is trying to break in. Here’s the story that led up to the scene:

Josh has a bigger-than-life personality. Although he’s a serious artist, he’s playful and theatrical in his pursuit and expression of it, so much so that when I learned he would be presenting the results of his wild clay grant research project in a power point presentation for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at UNC in Asheville this past weekend, I asked, “Will there be a costume involved?”

And at the Wild Clay Exhibit when I said to one of his pottery mates who was remarking about Josh’s creativity and energy… “You should have seen him as a boy…” the potter injected before I could finish, referring to Josh’s playful nature, “OH, BUT I THINK WE HAVE!”

The culmination of months of intensive preparation for the wild clay exhibit and power point presentation were packed into two days this past weekend. In the weeks leading up to the events, Josh was going to school, writing an essay for the Studio Potter magazine about wild clay, producing two publications for the exhibits, and getting his car un-booted after receiving several parking tickets while loading and unloading pots to and from venues. In the days before the events he was functioning, admittedly, on too much coffee and too little sleep.

The conference presentation - given by Josh and his colleague Matt – was a huge success, eliciting rousing applause and even a few tears from some of us. I was particularly moved when Josh spoke of the bond that developed between himself and the farmer whose land the wild clay was excavated from because they both shared a deep appreciation for what the earth could produce.

After the last of the events, Josh was more than ready to relax and spend some time with me and Joe, who had traveled from Virginia for the occasion. He graciously gave us a daytime and nighttime tour of a kiln wood firing he was a crew member of; we attended a sunset picnic kite-flying birthday celebration for a friend of his, and dined on pasta at a downtown restaurant.

Later that night, we headed back to the Days Inn motel where Joe and I were staying to download some photographs and to bestow a promised massage on the hardworking potter son. It was then that it was revealed or discovered that Josh had a fever!

In high school, Josh’s wrestling skills took him to state championships. Through wrestling he learned the importance of focused discipline, which sometimes included ignoring the body’s messages of fatigue until the job got done. It seems that his enthusiasm and best efforts in pulling together a major art opening featuring local and international potters who use wild clay and then doing his research presentation the next morning had taken a toll. When he finally let his guard down, it became obvious that his resistance was down as well.

He never made it out of the motel that evening. Fell asleep where he hit the bed. The next morning, he was scheduled for a 4 hour stint tending the kiln. Joe drove over to the site with him. They lined up a replacement fire keeper, and then got Josh home for some needed bed rest.

Before Joe and I left Asheville, we stopped by to check in on Josh, which is when the first posted photo was taken. Luckily, he came out before anything actually broke. And happily, I can report that Josh is well on the way to recovery.

Photos: The second photo: Josh talking with an audience member at the NCUR research presentation and art exhibit at UNCA. The third photo: Samples of local pipe clay displayed at the Wild Clay Exhibit, excavated by Josh and Matt and presented in their various stages: raw and wet, dried, kiln dried, and finished.

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