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About the artist

I was born and raised in Russia, where I also acquired a fine education (a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Biophysics). I initially came to the US as a postdoctoral trainee and then, like many others, realized that there are incredible opportunities here vs. close to none – back at home. So I stayed here, and moved on quite happily with my career.

 

I am living an American dream now, enjoying a great job, a nice house and a loving family. But there is always something else that is missing, isn’t it? Since my early days I had a passion for arts. I wanted to study drawing and painting during my school years but never got a chance. Back in Russia there was no community education available (at least where I lived), so my only source was high school art classes given by a teacher who was actually trained in history education. I took occasional lessons in various mixed media during summer camps, watched extremely scarce “how-to” TV programs, and kept making things during my free time from the scraps found around the house (there was no such thing as an “art supply store” in Russia in those days).

 

Since my early days, my heart was always split between my interest in biology and love for arts. So when the time came to decide on college education, my mom made it “easy” for me and directed her efforts to organizing such an elaborate brainwashing campaign that it seemed very logical at the time that the only right choice was getting an education in biology. She did it, of course, based on her best intentions and firm belief that building a strong career and making a steady income as a biologist would have a much higher probability of success than as an artist. Well, I cannot argue with that. We all heard about “starving artists” but I have to admit I never heard about “starving biologists” (if you heard about such a thing, please, let me know; oh, yes, post-docs are excluded).

 

So I became a biologist. But that feeling of unrealized creativity potential was still brewing inside me. I couldn’t pinpoint it though. Here in the States, I took an oil painting class. Made a few paintings, was very much encouraged by my teacher but didn’t feel the urge to keep painting. I enjoy interior decoration and decorated my new house, even made a few decorative objects that are displayed throughout the rooms, but it is all finished now. I ran out of rooms that needed to be decorated.

 

One day my daughter brought home a ceramic fish pencil holder she made at her school. It suddenly occurred to me that I should perhaps try that ceramic stuff, and so I did. I took an evening class at a high school. At first it was quite frustrating since I didn’t really know what I was doing. But then it quickly became something I was looking forward to all week, dreaming about before bed, anticipating new projects I was going to work on. I realized this is what I wanted to do. I started buying books, reading on the web, subscribed to ceramics magazines. I got hooked. What a great feeling. I wanted to study it more deeply and signed up for a ceramics class at Montgomery County Community College.

 

So I am back to school now (who could imagine that after almost 18 years of continuous studying I can enjoy taking classes again!). Unfortunately I can only allow myself one class a week, since I still have a full time job (something that is becoming an exquisite luxury these days) and a daughter to raise. But the happy ending (or a new beginning, depending on how you look at it) is that, after all these years of searching and waiting and going on with my other (non-artistic) life, I finally got this amazing opportunity to study and do what I always wanted to – create beautiful objects and actually enjoy the process of creation so much that it really does not matter how long it takes to finish one piece. I realize not too many potters can say that. This is the time when having a well-paying job comes in handy (Thanks, mom!). But the flip side, of course, is not having enough time for my pottery. I guess we all have to make sacrifices, but I’ll stick to my day-time job at least for now (so I do not have to complain about my bills, or not being able to make what I like, or not being able to sell any pots, or lots of other things that come with full-time pottery).

 

Right now I am of course in an active process of learning and exploring the endless possibilities of working with clay. There is so much to learn. When I visit ceramic workshops or read about a particular potter, I feel an immense jealousy. I am jealous of their tremendous long-time exposure to the subject of pot making, their extensive training with the famous pottery artists, experience and full-blown education in ceramics – something that I will probably never have. But that does not discourage me. I’ll take what I can and make the best of it. The important fact is that working with clay gives me great pleasure and completes me as a person.

 

 

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