How To Feel Good About Yourself

  Majolica is a type of earthenware ceramics characterized by rich design, broad and bright pallet, and glossy surface.  These attributes arise due to the presence of tin as the flux in the glaze.  The resulting relatively high viscosity restricts flow during firing and thus enables a sharpness of detail unusual in the surface treatment of fired clay.

  This ceramic style originated in the Middle East and accompanied the spread of Islam across Northern Africa and into Spain.  It got to Italy via the island of Majorca from whence the name.  Similarly Faenza, Italy was eponymized after sending examples to France where vessels of that nature to be called faience.  The Dutch waited for proficient differentiation and felt ok calling it Delftware.

  These centuries later, after mastering the requisite considerable skill, artists take the technique wherever their hearts might lead.  Well, my favorite artist has a huge heart and as you see here above and below, her work exudes joy and exuberance in uncommon measure. 

  The pieces are clearly functional and meant – no, yearn – to be used.  They engender the sort of feeling with which one finds him/herself imbued after a leisurely stroll through a fine farmer’s market lush with produce still sparkling with morning dew.

  That it is of a special nature I learned anew while reading an article* about, of all things, prosopagnosia – the impairment (slight to severe) of face perception.  Oliver Sacks wrote about an extreme case in his Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.  While for that man the cause had to do with Alzheimer’s, in many it is simply a part of their neurological constitution.  

  I think my artist would agree that I have much greater facility with names and faces than does she though she can nonetheless quickly (and enthusiastically!) pick loved ones out of any crowd and that’s the point.  Observation and research suggests that emotion plays a large and discrete role in face recognition and in my artist emotion flows like the Amazon.

    Jane Goodall has the condition and is unable to put a name with a face (human or chimp) before some degree of a relationship has had a chance to evolve.  It’s no news flash that her heart and mind are well connected and it’s tough now not to speculate about the extraordinary manifestations of her particular constellation of synaptic connections.    

  Most interestingly, for the purpose herewith, is that well known portrait artist Chuck Close is severely prosopagnosic.  He believes that the condition “has played a crucial role in driving his unique artistic vision” which amplifies an initial visual impact into something just this side of a wonderful hallucination.

  I think that my artist is wired up in such a way that her manners of perception interweave with her ebullience to create a constantly evolving yet unmistakable body of work – from kids, to dogs, to food, and yes, to pots.  Look at her stuff, doesn’t it make you feel better about yourself?

*”Face-Blind”, by Oliver Sacks in the 8/30/10 New Yorker. 

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