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March Letter from our Executive Director

Happy March! Even with the forecast of more flurries looming, I can feel that spring will be here soon. Can you?

Like many people I’ve been trying to apply Marie Kondo’s philosophy to my home, and reduce my life of objects that don’t “spark joy”.

Did you know that the word “Joy” is written into Baltimore Clayworks’ mission statement? “The mission of Baltimore Clayworks is to develop, sustain, and promote an artist-centered community that provides outstanding educational, artistic, and collaborative programs in the ceramic arts. Its core values are artist-centeredness, excellence, inclusivity, integrity, and joy.”

Every day as we face our challenges here at Clayworks (grant reporting is due, deadlines loom, heating systems fail, we run out of coffee, etc.) we do our best to remain committed to our mission and practicing its tenets. Joy is an elusive thing to define, as it means something different to everyone. As our fabulous founding director Deb Bedwell wrote in her essay “Measuring Joy”, “you know it when you see it.” Or, as an internal evaluation, “You know it when you feel it.”

A woman came by the Clayworks shop on Monday morning, coincidentally interrupting our staff meeting. She was on a mission to find the perfect mug. (Her husband’s perfect mug had broken, so she had given hers to him.) Everyone on staff commiserated; finding the perfect mug takes time. There’s the shape of your hand as it relates to the handle, the balance, the color. Thickness of the walls and width of the mouth. Is the mug for tea or coffee? And then there’s that other thing. The phenomenology that happens when you hold your perfect mug and you fall in love. You know it when you hold it.

She wound up not finding her perfect mug in our shop, and that’s okay. A perfect mug takes time, and I am honored that she chose Clayworks as part of her quest.

Here’s what I am learning about the Marie Kondo approach to life: It is not necessarily about surrounding yourself with less stuff; it is about making room for more joy. And here’s what I am learning about Clayworks: there is a lot of joy here. It’s in the objects created and in the energetic creativity of the artists who make them. Come on by. I bet you’ll feel it too.

-Cyndi Wish
Baltimore Clayworks Executive Director