Yesterday I had this feeling like I was running even though I was sitting still. There was a buzz around me and occasionally I felt like I might either burst into tears or spontaneously combust. It was a distant, familiar feeling that I couldn’t quite place until I figured out when I had felt it before. It was the same feeling I had upon my return from Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts 13 years ago after taking my first workshop.
The first time I discovered Arrowmont I was in a difficult period of my life. My father had passed away the year before, I was dating someone who was all wrong for me and I had a job that was sucking the life out of me. I came home from that first workshop in Tennessee and gave six months notice at my job so that they could find a replacement and I could formulate a plan. My goal was to re-focus my life on making art and I was willing to give up a salary and health insurance in order to make this happen.
My boyfriend’s parents were not thrilled. They said, “What are you going to do, go work at McDonalds?” Smiling, I said, “Well, yes if I have to.” So I left the boyfriend behind and got myself a job at a health club where I worked the front desk from 5-8 a.m. and then drove the half hour to substitute teach from 8:30-3:30. This allowed me my evenings and weekends for art making. I turned my living room into a studio and began selling my artwork at the local farmer’s market. These meager sales allowed me to save enough money to attend workshops at Arrowmont about every two years.
Fast-forward to January 2012 when I attended Arrowmont for the sixth time but this time I was invited along with several other ceramic artists, not as a student but as a peer for the first Ceramic Surface Forum. It was a full circle moment, working alongside people I have admired and respected in the field of ceramics for a number of years. At times I was paralyzed when I saw the talent in that studio but now that I’m home, I am buzzing again. Armed with inspiration, fresh ideas, new friends and a sense that I officially belong in my field.
Attending Arrowmont has truly been a life-altering experience for me, not only because I re-discovered my need to create, but because this need led me to quit my full time job all those years ago. Back when I was working at the health club I met a woman who befriended me and one day she said, “I think you should meet a friend of mine.” That friend of hers turned out to be my husband, the most wonderful man in the world who loves that I am passionate about making art.
Thanks Arrowmont for all that you bring to the world.