5. Was your work outside the US valuable at this time in your career?
In a word, yes it was. This is a pivotal point in my career, and it helped me decide the direction I want to take… at least for the near future. At the beginning of the project I felt that I was at somewhat of a crossroads, unsure of whether I wanted to have a direction more towards design or more towards fine art. Meeting ceramic designers and working in a society where both exist, I found myself much more drawn to ceramic art. The way I work, as well as the type of work that I make both lend themselves to direct interaction with the material rather than distanced, “designed” approaches. Besides this, I found myself interested more in unique objects rather than considering objects for reproduction.
I have often thought of Europe as an alternative – a place to live, to work, or for education. A number of things convinced me that taking a degree there would not be a good decision for me at this time. For one, I learned that ceramics is being phased out of many European programs. England in particular has stopped many of its ceramics programs, and Denmark just lost one program at the Kolding School of Design, and may be losing another if the ceramics component of the Design school in Copenhagen is shifted to the Glass and Ceramic School on Bornholm. Besides this, I discovered that the multiple languages of European nations limited my ability to talk about art in depth. This was partially due to the imperfect knowledge of English that most non-native speakers have, as well as my own complete ignorance of any of their native tongues. I found it frustrating to be completely ignorant when a conversation slipped into Danish, Spanish, or Italian as was the case several times.
Traveling to Denmark was interesting in itself as a counterpoint to the experiences I have had in Hungary. The contrasting experiences help me to sort out which aspects of each place were European in general, and which were particular to that country. On top of that, the particular program, bringing together artists from several places, gave me a picture of ceramics from a wider range of countries, in particular, Norway, England and Mexico.