Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn


Pottery connects us with Nature.

The ancient sages said that the primordial elements -- earth, water, wind, mineral and fire – are inside us as well as outside. Physicists tell us the same thing in different words today. The elements we see in the universe are by their evolution now inside, transformed. The iron and oxygen in the stars are in our blood.

The design, color, texture, and energy of our human body are literally the product of this universe, as we move together in evolution. Nature’s elements are in the mood, mind and eye of the potter.

When potters study the delicate intricate crack lines in a pouring bowl, they look at lines in their hands and cast their eyes at the night sky.

“Centering” in pottery is an act that precedes all others on the potter’s wheel. It is an archetype. Potters bring their clay to the center of a wheel, and give it shape. This work, they claim, brings “the universe into a personal wholeness.”

Mary Richards says her purpose is “to feel the whole in every part” of the work.  

It is in our bodies that redemption takes place. It is the physicality of the crafts that pleases me: I learn through my hands and my eyes and my skin what I could never learn through my brain. I develop a sense of life, of the world of earth, air, fire, and water – and wood, to add the fifth element according to Oriental alchemy – which could be developed in no other way. And if it is life I am fostering, I must maintain a kind of dialogue with the clay, listening, serving, interpreting as well as mastering. The union of our wills, like a marriage, it is a beautiful act, the act of centering and turning a pot on the potter’s wheel; and the sexual images implicit in the forming of the cone and opening vessel are archetypal; likewise the give-and-take -- in the forming of a pot out of slabs, out of raw shards, out of coils; the union of natural intelligences; the intelligence of the clay, my intelligence, the intelligence of the tools, the intelligence of the fire.

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

The Holy Bible, I Corinthians, Romans 9:12

Here are photos of pottery I have done by hand and by wheel.

China Set in Forest (Two Pictures]
Dinner Plates [detail]
Salad Bowls [detail]
Dinner Mugs [detail]
A Cup

Pottery Bowls
On the Edge
Pottery Bowl with Tools
Dish for All Things
Covered Dish
Flower Urn
Tree Fairy
A Circle of Gnomes
A Circle of Hobbits
The Pilot
Naked in a Bowl
A Turtle and the Elements