“Brushing” off my notes from the very memorable Ghost Ranch workshop August 19-21, 2021, here at last is a story of the time with Sharon Brush.
Ahead of the seminar, in July, I was so elated to get Sharon’s email to participants with its lengthy questionnaire - it became a very effective tool for me. From her questionnaire: “It’s my belief that new work most easily develops after periods of deep reflection. With that belief in mind, it is my intention to spend the three days helping you to realize some fundamental truths about yourself and your work.” I ended up referring to my questionnaire notes a lot during the 3-day workshop.
But as I remember, that time seemed a lot longer than 3 days. With folks all around me working up a storm of pieces - from Michael Thornton to my left with his slab free-form cylinder evolving tall, to Shelly Jackson’s prolific expressions catching my eye across the room, there was a hum of harmonious creation. With more than half a dozen out under the porches, I chose indoors table spot. Everyone with masks on, there was the lovely intentional atmosphere of folks pouring their focus into sculpture, with Sharon Brush appearing at our sides, to engage every single one of us, again and again. Her mode of presentation honored our few short days, as she encouraged us to start our own pieces early on, meanwhile she built and commented on her own emerging form.
Sharon showed us how to make a “maquette” - a miniature version of our concept - first. You can see hers next to her water bottle on table in the photo. I loved making maquettes!! She used multiple forms for her multi-faceted piece, the handcrafted styrofoam one covered with old t-shirt. Spray bottle and blow torch alternated in her hands. Later the first evening we saw the entire journey of her exploration with “vessel as sculpture” forms laid out in slide show. "Vessel as sculpture" describes her oeuvre well.
At the top of my notes is scrawled: “1200 folks coming mañana.” Yes, there was a brand new type of event occurring during our weekend - the “Ghost Ranch Music Weekend” that we potters were invited to join with tickets half-price. But we were having too much fun with our participant slide show that second night! The Ranch had been transformed and the staff were scurrying! Dinner was in a box, and Saturday night we all were able to eat under the Pinon Pottery Studio porch together, sharing stories around the table, true to our NMPCA camaraderie. Music drifted over, the full moon rose, and a whole new batch of Ranch fans were oo-ing and ah-ing at the edge of the alfalfa field while we oo-ed and ah-ed at the slides of our member pieces.
Sunday, our sculptures lined up on tables outside. Sharon our leader expressed her happiness in the success of the workshop, that each person in our group took the challenge in as many wonderful directions as there were participants. For her, that brought joy.
Article and photos by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Editor of the Slip Trail