David Stannard has just died.
David was one of my first ceramics teachers at The University of Oregon in 1972 and when I got an MFA in 1980 he was on my graduate committee.
David was a potter’s potter: he went deep into materials science, deep into process, and deep into philosophy. So deep in fact that many of us were intimidated by him; at times he seemed to speak in tongues or he’d get right to the technical point leaving out the introduction that some of us needed. Later when I became less intimidated I thought it was an affectation. Later still as I learned more about myself and broadened my experience with different types of people I not only got David, I admired him.
When he visited me here in Connecticut a few years ago we talked about the fact that both of us had suffered with learning disabilities although when I had worked with him I had very little knowledge of my own learning problems and he had already made a successful life for himself as a popular university professor. Still, we both felt that we had this experience in common and there was a real connection that I had not experienced with him back in Oregon. In retrospect I have a feeling that one of the reasons I fit in so well in that ceramics department was that all of us were “learning to a different drummer.”
During that visit David gave me the mug pictured here which he made in Alaska out of local clays and local glaze materials that he’d mined and concocted himself. That’s what David did there: started a pottery for a small village so they could make and sell ceramics. The mug itself isn’t particularly remarkable without the back story of it’s materials, its making, and David’s lifelong research, and that knowledge makes the mug remarkable. I’m going to start using this mug again to keep David floating around in my consciousness.
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Reflections From Owl’s Eye-2
© 1994 David Stannard
Twenty years ago I went with my wife and two pre-school boys to live in a village on the Bering Sea. Seen from this distant time and place, it was like coming home — no schedules, no stop lights, no TV, no 2nd hand experience, no arbitrary intrusions at all. Plenty of direct experience and rhythm, though! We slept, we woke, we ate, we worked. Night followed day, and day the night. Wind came every few days, died off, then returned bringing rain, sun, drizzle, or snow — on zephyr or driving storm. Neighbor kids and ours gusted in and out like leaves on the wind, mutely settling into a quiet corner of the one room, suddenly starting up and swirling out the door to fling noisily about the village according to some dance between inner pulse and outer force. Like a school of fish in a watery world each went his own way, though grouped by common purpose and locale. Each moved in that singular world of vision-in-action called intuition. Continue reading