“When I make something, I hear it”


My husband thinks true artists are necessarily a little odd, fundamentally different than the rest of us who schlep through life thinking about what to cook for dinner, who is going to do something about the construction-related traffic delays, and wondering, shouldn’t I really be exercising more?

He might be right, and isn’t the world a better place for it? That’s how I felt when I read a recent story in the New York Times about the ceramicist, Edmund de Waal. Mr. de Waal is better known (in my circle, at least) as the author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, a family memoir, and a favorite of my book club. He is also, as declared by the New York Times, “a celebrated potter, known for installations of impeccably made vessels in soft shades of celadon or white, many of them permanently displayed in places like the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

In the article about Mr. De Waal’s first upcoming exhibit in the U.S., I was struck by his statement that his work is “the language of sculpture, it’s about … poetry and words and the spaces between words and sounds. When I make something, I hear it.” The marriage of language and art, object and space in his statement makes me swoon.

He also seems to have translated the experience, the trance, the rapture of making something into words: “when I make something I hear it.” Is this is the altered state we all seek when taking on a creative project? I cringe to liken needlework, pinterest projects to the sublime work of Mr. De Waal, yet I believe creative aspirations have a common root. Some people, like Mr. DeWaal, are just more talented, more ambitious, more fully developed than the rest of us.

So, yes, my husband is probably right – true artists are fundamentally different than the rest of us because they live more fully in a creative, connected state of mind – that altered world where you can hear it, when you make something.


* images from Edmund de Waal’s website.