Editors: Did you come to pottery from a different career? Tell us about your journey and how your previous career informs your ceramic career.
Meg Beaudoin: I am a full time potter creating functional and sculptural wood fired ceramics in my studio in the woods in Stone Ridge, New York. I used to be a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City. What led me from one to the other? Are they even related? I believe that they are deeply related as they are both about making the all important connections between inside and outside, mind and body, self and other. We all struggle to make these connections and we all feel most alive when we succeed. So for decades as a psychoanalyst and psychologist I had the privilege of sharing in the inner world of others, helping them understand it and make the connections they needed to live in the world more fully. It was a wonderful career that involved teaching and writing as well as working with patients.
I had done some work in clay and stone sculpture as a college student but had long left it behind, or so I thought. I saw an advertisement one day for pottery classes and following an impulse, the strength of which I did not yet understand, I signed up for a beginner wheel throwing class at a community pottery studio. From that first experience on the wheel I felt that I had come home, that I was exactly where I should be. It turned out that for me, the whole mind body experience of working with clay was the very thing that truly connected me to the world. I was sure that this was the real thing because I wasn’t a natural and we all know what a big learning curve throwing has. But I wanted to do nothing else and when I wasn’t doing it I was thinking about it, dreaming about it, and planning how to do it more. My journey over the next decade took me to many workshops with many teachers and very importantly took me to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, where each summer for 5 years, I became more and more a potter.
Eventually I became expert enough to teach others and to consider working full time on my own and so I moved to the beautiful woods of the Hudson Valley and built a studio and a life as a ceramic artist. I continue to be amazed that with each piece made a whole new relationship between inside and outside is created. The surface of the pot is of course the point of intersection between inside and outside and this has a lot to do with my choice of how I fire my work. But that is its own long story and wonderful journey. Suffice it to say that my work is wood fired in Anagama and Noborigama wood kilns and I consider it most successful when it is both functional and sculptural at the same time.