I have a book in my personal art-book library, The Artist Within – A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, by Whitney Ferré. When I first bought this, I wanted a book about design principles of making art. I found out the subject is living life creatively. The author discusses and has exercises in using design principles to expand your thinking about all aspects of your life: Emphasis, balance, proportion, unity, harmony, contrast, rhythm, and repetition. Recently I opened the book again as I was thinking about taking on the job of president of the NMPCA. I realize that, while the NMPCA may not always look from all perspectives like a work of art, being the president will be to engage in a collaborative creative effort…collaborating with the other board members and all NMPCA members in creating a work of art organization. Like all collaborative efforts, each artist/member of the effort has a different vision of what the “work” should be like. I think perhaps the responsibility of the president is to help everyone to see the whole; entice, cajole, engage people to work on the parts; and encourage balance, harmony and unity in the results.
OK, so let’s discuss the design principle, balance, as it applies to our collaborative work at NMPCA. Hopefully it is obvious I’m using the word “work” as in “work of art.” The design principle of balance can mean symmetry or asymmetrical balance in a physical art work. In an individual, balance can relate to being well-rounded in your activities or thinking. In our organization, balance could imply a goal of making sure the activities of the group reflect different interests, working methods, and education in different aspects of ceramic arts. It can also reflect balanced participation of members so that all the efforts are not expended by just a few while other members feel excluded. If the efforts necessary to create the activities of NMPCA are expended by just a few, those few become burnt out, used and worn-out, or may feel justified in doing things their own unbalanced way since nobody else seems interested. In contract, those who prefer to just pay their dues and reap whatever benefits come their way, might develop a perception that the organization is not meeting their needs at best, or at worst is cliquish or catering to the needs of only a few. Both groups may feel they are not getting something worth their “investment” in the organization. This is definitely not a balanced situation! I’m not saying that the current NMPCA is in this situation, but I do know we have trouble finding people willing to step forward and roll up their sleeves to participate. At the same time, I do see lots of ideas and interest in the membership…I’m currently thinking it is a matter of finding the balance. I have always operated on the principle that it is not fair to make a criticism or put forth an idea for an organization unless I am willing to step up to the plate and put in the effort to make it happen. Hence…here I am as the President, I guess.
In my efforts to achieve balance within NMPCA, I am going to be contacting each of my fellow board members to find out more about their vision of the NMPCA and I want to talk to as many other members as possible. I’ll be asking you things like: “How could being part of a group of people in any sense enhance your experience with clay?” “What would an ideal ceramic arts organization be like?” “What have you always wanted to do in the clay area but never had an opportunity to do?” “How would you like to engage with other members in the NMPCA?” “What can you contribute to make your vision come about?” Don’t be surprised if I come up to you in the community or at an NMPCA event with these questions.
I have so many ideas I want to discuss with the members of the NMPCA that I am starting a blog for this purpose. For those luddites among us, a blog is a website where one or more people can write their ideas, show pictures, or expound on their ideas and then other people can respond with comments. Leave a comment here or send me a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And…don’t go running away if you see me at an event!
new President and still Webmaster
New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists