NCECA is the national council on education for the ceramic arts, a 10,000 strong USA -based organisation. At their recent conference in Houston, Paulus Berensohn, the subject of my upcoming film “To Spring from the Hand” was honored with a lifetime membership. Paulus was unable to attend the conference, and in place of a presentation from him, I made a nine minute edit from the film, with an emphasis on his clay work. You can see that edit at springfromthehand.com, the now live blog/website for the film. Please sign up to the blog to get future information on the film release etc.
The edit was introduced at the conference by Stuart Kestenbaum,( Director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine) a long time colleague and friend of Paulus’s. His word are an elegant summary of Paulus’s contribution are they are reprinted below.
“Ever since the publication of his book, Finding One’s Way with Clay in 1972, Paulus Berensohn has been an articulate and passionate teacher and speaker about the importance of the work of the hand and the creative spirit. He has influenced generations of makers through his involvement with both Haystack and Penland, where he has been a frequent teacher and visiting artist, and through workshops that he has led throughout the United States and abroad.
Before he became a potter, he had a career as a dancer, studying and performing with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Then in 1961, he visited Karen Karnes at her studio and watched her throw pots. To him that was another kind of dance—between potter’s hands and the opening vessel, and he began working in clay. He wanted to study with Karen, who told him that she didn’t teach, but suggested that he take a workshop with her studio mate, MC Richards. Three weeks later Paulus arrived at Haystack to study with MC.
On the first day of the workshop, MC was speaking to the class and said, “It’s not a matter of having taste, but of having the capacity to taste what is present: to behold.” Paulus remembers MC looking directly at him as she spoke and said he felt himself transformed. And what a transformation that was. Paulus Berensohn has gone on to make his own life one of being present and beholding and, because of that, he helps us to behold as well– to slow down and look more deeply at the living, breathing planet we inhabit. Whether he is working in clay, making journals, or reciting poetry, he is a vital presence, attuned to the powers of the heart, the hand and the human spirit.”
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts