July 30, 2012

Stopped In My Tracks. ~ Jillian O’Dwyer


Photo credit: Deika Morrison

It started as one of the worst weeks ever.

My car had been hiccupping for a few weeks and then the dreaded check engine light came on. There was really nothing else to do except take it in to the mechanic.

Monday afternoon the mechanic shared the first inkling of truly bad news. He thought there was a problem with my transmission, but he wanted to have his transmission guy take a look at it the next day.

Tuesday turned the drizzle into a storm. My car needed its transmission rebuilt. It would take a few days and just a little bit of money.

I could already hear my bank account groaning at what was “a little bit of money.”

Wednesday I hitched a ride to the studio from a friend who works nearby. She starts work earlier than the studio opens, so I decided to treat myself to a leisurely breakfast.

As I was walking from the restaurant to the studio, I noticed something I had never really noticed before—an old church down the street.

Photo credit: Jillian O’Dwyer

I have always loved churches and religious artifacts. I’m not even really sure I can explain why. I’m more spiritual than religious, yet the symbols of organized religion have always drawn me, so I walked closer.

I noticed the peeling paint, the general air of slow decay despite it being an active church.

But what really struck me were the windows—the intricate patterns, different colors and designs.

Now I’ve seen stained glass windows before, but this was the first time I’d thought about the concept in relation to my art work.

These windows had just been a wonderful piece of art among many works of art in a particular church. Certainly dazzling senses when the sun hits, but simply another part of the church-going experience.

I walked all the way around the outside of the building—gone are the days when churches are left unlocked—taking pictures of the windows. From the outside, not backlit, their colors are not dazzling, but I could still see the possibilities.

I walked the rest of the way to the studio with my head full of ideas on how to achieve the effect in clay. The very first thing I did when I got to the studio?

Started on what would be the first in a series of work inspired by the stained glass windows of a church that was put in my way.

Photo credit: Jillian O’Dwyer

Weeks and tons of super positive feedback later, I have to wonder.

Did my car breakdown because that’s what cars do?

It is an older model and was probably due for some transmission work.

Did it break down to trigger the chain of events leading me to the inspiration for my latest series?

I do know that I would probably have never noticed that church.

It does make me wonder and I am appreciative of the possibility of truly wondrous occurrences in my daily life.

Sometimes they are easy to spot. Sometimes the universe steps in and stops us in our tracks to pull back the blinders of our routines to amaze us.

I could have done without the mechanics’ bill though.

Jillian O’Dwyer is a ceramic artist whose biggest joy comes from ongoing experiments with her pieces. Something new and often a little bit out there is always in the works. She blogs about the inspiration behind her pieces at jillianodwyer.blogspot.com. Follow her on Facebook for fresh, out of the kiln photos of her work and upcoming art shows.


Editor: Jamie Morgan

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