Teamwork and Synergy
I first saw the work of Recycled China (Jeffrey Miller and Thomas Schmidt) in person at the 8th Gyeonggi International Ceramics Biennale’s competition exhibition in Icheon, South Korea. I was completely absorbed by the surface, materials, and presence of the piece. I felt fortunate to be able to lean in, to see how the aluminum had curled around and enveloped the porcelain fragments, and to reflect on what we define as waste versus what is considered valuable.
Six months later and much closer to home, I had the opportunity to see another Recycled China piece as part of the 2015 Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics exhibition here in Ohio. The editorial and production staff took a break one Friday afternoon to drive out to see the exhibition. So much of what we see is in image form. The difference in terms of what we could observe, as well as the sensory experience of being in the same space with pots and sculptures by both artists who were familiar to us, and completely new to us in person. We all leaned in as close as possible to view the details of the piece, and talked about the way it was made and the elegance of both the finished work and the concepts of labor, energy use, reuse, and altering our perspective to see the potential in so-called waste material. Since we were there as a team who works together every day to produce the magazine, we also recognized the power of collaboration and synergy. This piece (along with others in the show) was the product of input and expertise from different perspectives.
It is inspiring to see the ways that teams can expand the creative potential of an idea or a common goal, and push to make the finished product—whether a piece of art, a publication, an exhibition, or a biennale—greater than any individual’s separate efforts.
Talk of synergy led me to think about the specific mental state fostered by galleries and museums. The spaces and layouts they design stimulate curiosity and shut out distractions (as long as it’s not opening night). They allow us to discover, to meditate, and to expand on what we are experiencing.
The people involved in creating that space for ceramic makers and viewers (the curators, directors, and staff members) believe in making art accessible, sharing information, and showing people how handmade objects connect us to one another, inspire curiosity, and are both practically and psychologically important in our everyday lives.
As ceramic artists, we’re more teamwork oriented than a lot of visual artists, due to the nature of our processes. The articles in this issue focus on how artists, collectors, mentors, students, and gallerists collaborate, and work together to create something new and challenge themselves and others to (re)discover their curiosity through interactions with pots and sculpture.