That which was created in the making... by Amanda Gentry


When I headed out for my residency at STARworks I imagined that upon completion of Born Again I would crawl inside and cry. Cry and cry and cry and cry until there were no tears left. No more sadness from the past—mine or anyone else's I had carried, knowingly or unknowingly.

I did not. What I had imagined would happen as a natural release did not. And I could not, would not manufacture a waterfall where there wasn't one. Why? Why wasn't there one?

I am different. Wholly different than when I started Born Again months ago. I am the river that has been changed, is changing as the water continues to flow. I feel fundamentally empowered, stronger than ever. As if the heat of my own luminosity has dried the tears of wounding. The wounds have healed and my vision has cleared. The cloudiness that comes from crying to the point of dehydration was not in the cards. I've already played that hand. Game over.

Born Again did exactly as it promised it would. It bore the maker anew. Behold: a new creation.

After the last addition of clay I crawled inside and thanked her. Thanked this clay womb for birthing this sculptor. In response I heard these words: That which was created in the making is that much more than what was made.

Invisibility = No Mind by Amanda Gentry


A sculptor friend of mine who has been following my progress, posted this question to me when she saw the above image: “What is going through your mind as you render yourself invisible?”

Truth be told, in the moment of working, little is going through my mind. Which to me is evidence of a true meditative state. The time that we are living in is filled with so much stimulus agitating the mind that we rarely achieve “no mind”. Since arriving in Star, North Carolina, a little over a month ago I have changed my daily routine. I no longer immediately plug into a news feed in the morning and instead sit down to read, journaling the thoughts that bubble up in response. I’ve swapped streaming programming at the end of my day for a good old fashioned puzzle. I have no idea what’s going on out there. While I’m becoming invisible within the form that I am creating, the world is becoming invisible to me. And I like it. I like it very much.

I have a little less than a month left as I finish up my residency at STARworks. Born Again is on schedule and will be finished before I start to pack up my things. After this I jump in my car and head for Pecatonica, Illinois, before returning back home to Chicago. What’s in Pecatonica? Silence. Total and complete silence. I will be attending a ten day silent meditation retreat. No devices. No books. No journals. I will be in the company of strangers with whom I will not speak.

It feels as though the work I have been doing during this residency has been preparing me for an experience that most of us would find intolerable. And maybe prior to making myself invisible with 6,000 + pounds of clay I would have.

The Intimacy of Scale by Amanda Gentry


The form is now close to four feet tall, a little more than half it’s final height, and I am finding that with each ring of clay I put down that I am working the clay differently. When my hands became tired I began to leverage the strength of my weight against my wrists to push and pull the clay as I formed the curve. Yet beyond my hands and wrists, the scale of the work has invited the involvement of parts of my body that would never have come into play with my smaller work. When the walls had reached my inseam I noticed how the curve of my thigh fit perfectly against the inside wall as I propped it up and beat on the outside with a two-by-four, pulling up the thick wall of clay in between my thigh and the wood. More recently I have found that when standing on the inside of the form I can press the curve of my belly against the wall as I reach over to the outside and plane the surface with a straight-edge.

This new intimacy with the work is both soothing and visceral, taking me out of my head and putting my body at the helm as I intuitively utilize the curves of my form that fit the curve being formed. It’s the fulfillment of a relationship long in the making. The truth is, clay is the only medium that has elicited from me a willingness to listen to it, an eagerness to learn from it, and a desire to be one with it. And finally at this scale I truly am.

Cracks Will Happen by Amanda Gentry


This is what stress looks like.

On Monday, while I took the day off to get an adjustment from a chiropractor, the clay did the same. I came to the worksite yesterday and found eight of these beauties telling me to regroup. When clay dries it shrinks. And concrete (the floor directly under the ring) is unyielding in that endeavor. The day was spent deconstructing and reconstructing, taking into greater consideration my co-creator in this project: Clay.

Curiously enough, after years of working with this medium, I still conceive of the final piece as a flawless form. And the majority of the time it is returned to me with flaws which enhance the work and bring to it a deeper and more poetic expression. With this feedback I am now planning and imagining this form with the cracks that will invariably happen. After all, this is an egg, inviting the rebirth of any who enter into it. Has there ever been a bird who has experienced the magic of flight without having cracked the egg it emerged from?

2500 Pounds of Reality by Amanda Gentry


Yesterday my second round of clay arrived. On two pallets. 2500 pounds.

When I first conceived of Born Again I imagined laying the first ring and considered that the top would require the assistance of others—not just with the building of it but with the troubleshooting and engineering of it. I didn’t think of the in-between, the point at which the clay would be just above my head.

Since the clay was delivered my mind has been working non-stop. I don’t know what the solution is or will be. And I keep trying to pacify myself with the notion that I am surrounded by resourceful minds that are all too willing to help. Still, I have found myself intimidated by what I have set out to do. The challenge of what I have chosen to build has become real to me.

With Born Again I am birthing my self. I imagine that what I am experiencing right now is similar to what many expectant mothers feel in their second trimester. The first is all dreams and excitement. Then the creation kicks and the clothes no longer fit and the back aches and the doubts come to the surface and it’s too late now. All one can do is put one foot in front of the other and focus on the immediate task at hand. Because if you start thinking about all that is ahead of you that you do not know it would paralyze you. And this creation needs you to be alert and present. This creation needs you to be capable. This creation needs you.

I Want to Crawl Inside by Amanda Gentry


A few years ago, as my work began to push against the edges of my kiln, I began to feel constrained. I wanted to build bigger. So I bought a new kiln that afforded me a couple more inches all around. The bigger kiln had no answer for me, however, when I found myself looking at my work and saying, I want to crawl inside.

I have recently been fascinated with eggs. An object we encounter daily yet fail to see the magic and mystery of. That a creature can be contained within it and break itself out to emerge into a new world amazes me. The simplicity and elegance of the form itself holds my attention. Such that breakfast has begun to take longer on savory days with each egg that is cracked first being experienced by my hand and my eye. A dozen eggs. A dozen variations on a form. A dozen beginnings.

After dreaming and sketching and ideating I now find myself in Star, North Carolina, at STARworks Ceramics, where I have been generously accepted as a resident artist. It is here that I will build a piece large enough to crawl inside of. And in crawling out I will find myself Born Again.