Saturday, November 16, 2013

His Marks Will Cover The Whole

In between daytime and nighttime trips to an observatory for my son's birthday, we stopped to explore the Maryhill Museum. The grounds were beautiful, and I always enjoy looking at art, and the Native American artifacts drew our attention, too. Especially the waterproof parka sewn from seal intestines, and the intricate beadwork with its vivid depictions of flowers and animals.

But we wandered into a display of pottery made by Ken Standhardt that resembled basketry, and had a video playing showing the artist's technique, and that stopped me for awhile. What is it about the process of art that moves me so? I watched as the potter shaped and roughly centered the clay, as he moved it to suit his will, and gave grace to a blob, and symmetry to dirt, and made it into something beautiful. The pot's shape was complete, symmetrical, its future clearly marked out in its form. But he cut it from the wheel, and set it on a shelf. "He is preparing the surface for his mark," the narrator said.

You see, it wasn't ready. It was a pot, and it had purpose, but it was not able to receive the impression he wanted to put on it. It needed to dry out for awhile. It needed the texture of leather before he could mark it. Have you ever felt like you've been set down, and left to dry for awhile?

His tool was a can opener. Mainly. He also used a ball point pen. What common things press my soul, and leave a mark? In His hands, any instrument can work together for my good. Does it feel like He makes the same mark over and over again? But I wanted variety, and uniqueness in the outcome. And again, I feel the same shape pressed into me. Over and over, again and again. And I am supposed to yield. Trust Me: don't be afraid. Trust Me: don't be afraid. I need to mark this side, now. Trust Me: don't be afraid.

The designs he pressed into the pots were mesmerizing. He said people asked him how he got them so perfect, when he had no plan and didn't measure before he began to press his tool in the clay. "There's plenty of imperfection in each individual impression," he said. But the overall body of the work appeared perfect. How often I feel the individual marks made in my life have imperfection in them. But He is the potter, and I am the clay, and in the end, His marks will cover the whole.

You can watch him work here.

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