28 09 2010


Last Wednesday, I took four pieces of work – and my soul – to the amazing pottery studio of Kevin Lehman, the head of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s Standards Committee. There, along with the work of several dozen other hopefuls, my offerings would be reviewed and critiqued by a panel of expert fine craftsmen to determine whether or not we had achieved “mastery of our media” – whether or not we would be awarded state juried status.

After we delivered the best of our creativity, we were banished from the premises while the jurors deliberated. When that studio door closed behind us, I was not prepared for the weakness in my knees and the knot in my stomach. After about half an eternity (about ninety minutes, really,) we were ushered back into Kevin’s studio to learn our fate.

There they were – right there on my display panel – the coveted tulip stickers, signifying I’d made it.  I was juried!  My ability as an artist has been verified  .  .  .  wait a minute! 

What am I talking about?  Does being an artist require independent confirmation; of course not. Since the first time I witnessed someone’s reaction to one of my enamels, I knew I could create an emotional connection with the viewer through the work. I belong to a wonderful group of artists and craftsmen who support and nurture each other simply because we love fine craft and the people who make it. They have been generous and lavish with compliments and encouragement.

Then, why am I so giddy? What made me want this recognition with such intensity?

Oh, how I hate the cognitive dissonance this kind of situation creates in my weary mind.  Upon closer consideration, the real issue came to the surface. I need to answer the question “What does juried status really mean to me?”  It is not about the affirmation that my work is good, although that is always nice to hear. It is not about the (very cool and prestigious) tulip stickers that I can proudly affix to my enamels.  

Reaching this goal has lifted me. I am so happy to share my victory with my beautiful and creative friends.  I suppose it is reason enough to set goals – simply to have something to celebrate with those you love.

Okay, it’s also about the stickers.



3 responses

29 09 2010
Sharon Ruth

Congratulations, Paula for getting that tulip sticker. Your work is truly worth it!

29 09 2010
Linda Hoffer

Congratulations! I love my piece of your art. I look at it every day and it never fails to make me feel good. Linda

29 09 2010
Millie Krauss

Now will you believe your Mom? The tulip stickers prove me right.

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