Good Monday morning, friends. I have finished all of my official sales and am ready to ease into holiday-making with my family. I am so appreciative of everyone who came out to buy my work for themselves for for gifts for loved ones over the past weeks. I've had words of such affirmation that mean more than you might know.
This year has been a really difficult one. Everything that could break has (kilns, multiple times, cars, the struts under my cast iron bathtub), the entire country has been (and still is) in a tizzy over the election, afraid of what's to come, afraid of the other side's intentions. So much polarization. Many small businesses, including mine, have felt the effects of this fear and have sat through shows with low sales and watched our online sales plummet. We've had to become more resourceful, rethink business strategies, take on second jobs, put things off. We've all pondered our career path, wondering what we should be doing. Can I support myself and my family? Does my work have any real meaning? How am I playing an effective role in my community, making art/pottery/textiles? In my creative circle in Memphis, we are all ready to put this year to bed and move on. Onward.
The word onward has been important to me since I was a young adult. My dear grad school pal Katharine used this word a lot. Whenever one of us faced trials or pains, she would look at me and declare ONWARD! About a month ago my friend Martha Kelly, a painter and printmaker, made a letterpress banner proclaiming onward- it hangs over my stove. I look up at it, ponder it, multiple times a day.
Finally, my version of Onward is ready. In September I made a dozen clay bird stamps to use on a series of St. Francis tiles. I set them aside, then one day, when my assistant had rolled out a table full of small trays, I pressed a few into the damp trays, painted the birds blue, then bisqued them. They weren't ready. Martha introduced her Onward banner, and I knew that it was time to use our word. Since November, I've made cups, trays, teacups and saucers, mugs, and little bowls. I melted the entire first batch when I over-fired my kiln, then I sold most of my second locally, but I have about a dozen pieces to offer today, with more to come.
I was brought up to give 10% of my earnings to the church. This is still important to me; occasionally I set aside another percentage to give to other charities. These onward pieces are designated for three organizations that I feel do good work for the marginalized locally, nationally, and internationally. First, in Memphis, Just City works for criminal justice reform. Second, Southern Poverty Law Center works to fight injustice, extremism, and for civil rights all over America. Third, Episcopal Relief and Development provides relief work in many areas, but their work with refugee communities around the world is dear to my heart. 15% of each sale of these pieces will be divided between these three groups.
I am grateful for the opportunity to use my work to help others. Thank you for helping me to achieve this goal.