Intentions in our yoga practice help to form not only the material mass of the physical body, but also shape the thoughts we carry during the yoga session and into the ceramic studio. The transformative power of yoga can change our attitudes toward our body, artwork, and the world.  Intentions can manifest reality to a degree that we can eventually create a veritable Garden of Eden by directing our thoughts.  


What’s the big idea?  What’s your intention? Your big idea?  Often with yoga it is for greater health and for our bodies to feel better and function more efficiently.  The plus side is that following through with these intentions also forms our body into a physical manifestation of these intentions.  The better we feel, then the more functional our bodies become, the better we appear to ourselves, all resulting in a shift of energy in our art and our community.


It is the same with art.  Our intentions are reflected in the art forms we send into the world, and the practice of making the forms changes us as artists.  We have conscious control over the thoughts that we infuse into our artwork.  A regular yoga practice can help you attain your most authentic art by encouraging an honest dialogue with the body and mind.  It develops a habit of self-reflection requiring absolute honesty with ourselves, and it functions as cross-training for our art-making to be it’s most authentic and honest.  This dialogue – whether in the art studio or on the yoga mat – requires an open mind, open heart, and observation without judgment, without fear.  The artwork that comes from this same distilling process represents the best we have to offer the world.


How does this relate to bombs, you ask?  I’ve been struggling with this dichotomy since I made and exploded a few one sunny day at a bomb range in Texas.  These were 17th century French-style ceramic bombs I was invited to create for research purposes. (La Belle Firepot)  At first it simply appealed to the pyromaniac in me.  Then I realized the similarities to an earlier body of ephemeral sculptures of powdered marble and porcelain.  (Any or all of the “Mound” series) The sculptural images deal with organization and dissipation on many levels, from the act of placing each porcelain form on the powdered marble mound to the disassembly of each installation.

One of my inspirations was William Blake’s poem:


“To see the world in a grain of sand

and heaven in a wildflower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.”


Metaphors of the movements of cells, plants and planets come together in the imagery of these works.  Perhaps this represents the most fundamental cycle of life:  Energy coming together, energy moving out.  Integrate… dissipate.  Order…entropy.  Rinse and repeat. After all, this cycle has been happening since the Big Bang and is essentially what I did all over again with the bomb project:  organizing clay particles into a compressed mass, filling the form with black-powder, then rapidly disassembling the entire form, which dissipated it to smithereens. The atoms that comprise our clay and our bodies are the same ones that once were stars.  But even the stars had to be destroyed and disassembled before those parts could dissipate and reintegrate to become us.


In the yoga session we focus inwardly, then we take our renewed body and mind into the world and respond outwardly from a fresh new center.  We as artists focus and compress our intentions into objects in the studio, then send our art – these documents of our movements and thoughts – out into the world as emissaries of ourselves.  And though the material objects can be altered, the energy – the intention – that created them can never be destroyed.


Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young got it right.  We are stardust.  We are golden.  We are billion year old carbon and upon realizing this, we can get ourselves back to the garden.


 Yoga for Potters:  Exploring the Material and the Ethereal 


Thursday 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM; Room 203 C-D-E


Our intentions in our yoga practice help to form not only the material mass of the physical body, but also shape the thoughts we carry during the yoga session and beyond.   Experience the transformative power of yoga in this session that focuses on the relationship between the physical process of yoga and our attitudes towards our body, work, and world.


Yoga mats will be available on a first-come basis, but bring a mat if you have one.  They will not be essential to benefit from this yoga session. It is best to wear loose or stretchy clothing and wait for breakfast until after the session.  Note:  There is only one yoga session this year!


Making Bombs:  The Art of Dissipating Mass


Friday 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM; Ballroom C


See the slow-motion disassembling of ceramic wares on a bomb range in south Texas.  How does a mild-mannered ceramics and yoga professor end up making bombs?  The story begins with the Sun King in Versailles,  and sails with LaSalle to Texas (where he met his gruesome end) and is told through the ceramic evidence in a recently discovered shipwreck.


DebraChronisterheadshotNCECADebra Chronister, associate professor, has been teaching ceramics and yoga at Victoria College since 2002.  Her images and ideas are manifestations of observations in biology, relationships, and living abroad, along with experiences gleaned from degrees at Texas Christian University, University of Texas at Austin, and a residency with the Museum of Fine Art Houston.