Young Sook Park, Korea's foremost ceramic artist, was asked to make a group of moon jars for show in a gallery. A moon jar is a traditional Korean vessel made of two thrown pots, pressed together at their lips to make one.
Moon jars developed in the neo- Confucian culture of the Choson dynasty between the l5th and early 20th centuries and are the epitome of Choson sensibility, representing elegance, humility, integrity, purity, and self-control. They are solid white. Traditionally, moon jars have been relatively small—the size you can hold in one or both of your hands.
But when Park went to look at the gallery and saw how huge it was, she realized that traditionally sized moon jars—which had been made for more intimate settings—would not be right there. So she decided to make really big ones. And though she had been a ceramist for decades, it took Park five years to make a moon jar the size she wanted.
It was one of these five-years-in-the-making moon jars that I saw at the Seattle Asian Art Museum a while back, and it was stunning. Even if you didn't know what went into making it, you'd just find it plain beautiful.
Then, when I saw the making-of video, I was blown away. In one scene, a bunch of guys are loading some big, white, beautiful pots onto the back of a cart.
As I watched the video I thought, They're being kind of cavalier—just popping those babies into the cart like that, with just a little piece of cloth between them. Then the guys push the cart a little way down a path and unload the cart, yanking the pots off and hauling them up into these woods.
Then I saw the artist, Young Sook Park, standing next to a big shallow hole in the ground. The guys bring the pots over to her, and she takes a hammer and slams it right into a pot. The pot breaks and she hammers it again and again, into smaller pieces, then kicks the busted pieces of pot into the hole, and the guys bring another pot and she does it again. Smashing all these huge beautiful pots to smithereens.
It turns out that each of those pots had some little flaw or crack or blemish, something most people wouldn't see, but not exactly what the artist wanted. So she knocked apart that "draft" to see how and where it broke apart, then took that knowledge back to her studio and started another pot again.
She did this for years, failing and breaking, failing and learning and failing again on the way to make the object she desired.
The article is here.
as usual, most of the really good stuff starts out wearing Slayer underpants