Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Letter from the President

When news of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami reached our shores, I think many Californians felt an instant connection with what the Japanese people were going through, as well as a shared sense of dread of our own vulnerability and fault lines. I experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake near the epicenter in downtown Santa Cruz, and while the experience devastated my 19 year-old sense of immortality, it also brought to light some basic truths: we all live fragile lives, everything can be taken away in a moment, and nothing stays the same. There are practical ways to respond, with earthquake preparation and emergency plans, but the bottom line is all we really have is each other in times of crisis. And maybe, a three-day supply of water and canned beans.

I went to Japan for a residency in 2007 and was so gratified to be in a country where pottery is respected as a fine art. My former host, Ryoji Matsumiya, runs a production pottery along with his many other artistic and business endeavors. Thankfully, his business was only superficially affected by the earthquake, and he and his staff immediately jumped into the relief efforts by pledging 15,000 handmade cups to the people who have lost everything. You can read about what they are doing and see their progress right here.

For me, I get overwhelmed by these disasters. The need is so large and I feel so small, and I always wonder about donating to big charities where the cost of their overhead can eat up so much of the donation. I was directed to the Mashiko Potters Fund by another ACGA member, where money is being raised by a gallery in Boston and sent directly to a group of artists in Japan to help them rebuild their kilns and pottery. I felt that my contribution, while small, was going to people who really needed every dollar, and would put it to immediate use. Perhaps more of our members know of other places to donate, where the money goes directly to those in need? If so, please post it on our Facebook page to help spread the word.

1 comment:

  1. Whitney, Thanks for the information about Mashiko Potters.