Some of how I'm spending my evenings: an excerpt from my art analysis in progress on this pot.
Oh, and I have my first face-to-face interview for the New Book of Hours project set this weekend.
An Opening, Centered: Art Analysis of a Pot by Alice Cling
“What is culture? [It is] the development of attention,” wrote Simone Weil. (Bell 117; ch. 6) By concentrating our attention, our surrounding culture acts much like a reverse prism, focusing our otherwise multifaceted experience of time into a bright but narrow light. How does time shed a metaphoric light on beauty? When a person from one culture finds creations from another’s culture beautiful, what happens to the viewer’s experience of time? This art analysis explores the possibilities for understanding created by a focus on one facet of beauty—hózhó, an essential part of Diné (Navajo) culture (Reichard 195-96)—through attention paid to one object, a pot made by contemporary Diné potter Alice Cling, in the context of our course focus, time.
First, I would like to address the initial challenge posed by this analysis, the challenge of selecting a subject. I limited my scope to contemporary ceramics because of the “timely” paradox that this medium embodies—ancient skills made new in living hands, work that despite its fragility will likely carry meaning far past our civilization’s end and further into the future (Kuzmin 364-69) than other, newer art and technologies. Using that most contemporary of tools, Google, I searched for images that were resonant with the topic and my sensibilities, and found an artist whose work I had never seen before. Featured in the Purdue University website, “Women Artists of the American West” (Peterson), the pottery of Alice Cling was new to me. When I saw the pot in Figure 1, its beauty stopped me; my search for an object of attention ended, and my search for understanding began.
Back to our regular programming, soon!