When I scanned my email yesterday at lunchtime, there was an announcement from the amazing potter Ayumi Horie about a fundraising campaign that she and a few other potters had launched to help Christa Assad – another ceramic artist who is a perennial student favorite, and who has inspired several sets of student work.  Assad recently broke her back when she jumped from a window to save her life in a house fire.  According to the fundraising website:

When Christa jumped from the second story porch of her burning house, she saved her own life, but she also fractured her lumbar spine. Three weeks later,  she is trying to pick up the pieces (after subsequently breaking her nose and lacerating her eye lid!). Her life’s possessions—clothes, books, documents, her mother’s wedding dress— were all lost in the fire.

For the next three months, she must wear a brace that will protect her healing back, will be unable to make a living as an artist, and will be living in temporary housing. Christa is grateful to be alive, but she needs financial help to cover living costs and rehabilitation.

This is one of the many reasons I love Horie and her work so much.  She notes in her post that, “the ceramics community is tight and operates like a close-knit family. It’s also the warmest, most generous community I’ve ever known,” and I think Horie is an anchor of that community.  She’s a socially conscious maker whose pots are warm and whimsical – but also deeply relevant and connected to the big goings-on in our world.

As someone who is teaching tries to teach high school students every day to not only make, but consider the relevance of their own making, I consider Ayumi Horie a hero.

The plate Ayumi Horie made for a raffle benefit for Christa Assad. See more of her work and projects at ayumihorie.com

Which is why I came into my 6th period class almost shrieking.  “Guys.  Ayumi Horie [grabs Horie mug from the table and waves it in the air for emphasis] is organizing a fundraising campaign to help Christa Assad!” [They all know Assad because they unanimously picked her the winner of our first-round draft on our student blog- against Horie, but that’s besides the point, I should have put them in different brackets.  The same day she won the bracket was the day that we found out about her injuries, and talked about this – well, talked about this – in class.]

“And she made this plate for a raffle that has one of Assad’s pots on the plate.  Do you see this?  It’s a potter helping a potter by making a pot that has an image of the potter’s work on the pot, for a raffle of pots to help the potter!”

“It doesn’t get better than that….”

Crickets.  But I’m used to it.  Then one student quietly said, “so meta.”

And another smiled – “It’s like potception.”

Dan laughed.  “Potception.  That’s so bloggable.”  And so here I am.

I know that my students were referring to the movie Inceptionbut I think I want to claim and redefine that word – potception – in another way.  Definition (1) of inception is ‘beginning; start; commencement.’  I want to believe – I so, so hope – that sharing ideas like this with my students might occasionally be the inception of ideas as good as Horie’s.  Lofty goal:  I  want them to walk out of the studio considering ideas that start with making, linger in the warmth and beauty of the handmade, and end up with social relevance and making our world a little better.   And then I want one student to begin, and then another, and another….

So lofty.  But that’s why I’ll come into the studio excited to share ideas this good,  and hoping that potception happens once in awhile.  You never know what good ideas will stick, and lead to more good ideas later.

Last night at around 8 PM, my student Drew emailed me:  “They went above the 15,000 dollar goal even!”  This morning, that campaign is at over $26,000.  I’ll have two raffle tickets, and I’m might let the students in my 6th period class pick where they go, but the raffle is besides the point.  It’s the goodness – the willingness to use your talents to help others – the potception – that has us inspired.

Cheers, Ayumi – and so many good wishes for Christa Assad’s fast recovery.

If you read this, please give if you can.  


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