Betsy Williams | Episode 336
Betsy Williams is a studio potter living at 7500 feet above sea level in northern New Mexico. Her work highlights user friendly shapes and quiet yet compelling decoration.
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How do you know when you are making in your own voice?
I think you know from feeling. I think you know from the degree of excitement you feel when you are on to something that you haven’t done before that seems like it holds promise. Even though I say I am still trying to find my voice, I expect to be saying that for the rest of my life.
How do you find the confidence to be yourself? ( instead of copying other people )
I think it goes back to that stubbornness that maybe you have to have as an artist in the world today, to feel like you’ve got something. To go back to the drawing analogy, you take the world in and you put it back out for others to see. You’re not trying to brand yourself, it just happens to be you. There is a confidence that comes because you are determined to get it out there.
How important is seeking new experiences to be able to find your originality?
New experiences in life?
I think at my ripe old age now, I have come to value more and more, just as an example, the walk I take every day. Am I jumping out of an airplane with a parachute on me? No. I am just going for a walk and there is something about going deeper and deeper into that. That’s where I am right now. When I think of new experiences, I think of extremely new experiences. I think of what I am more into right now is the quieter, deeper awareness. I’ve done a lot of adventures things and I’m not craving that right now.
How important is it to think critically when studying other people’s work, to be able to find things that you like and don’t like? To find out what works and what doesn’t work?
To me it’s very important. Honestly, sometimes I wonder about our field. I love the camaraderie and the support we have for one another, but sometimes I wonder…I tend to look at things very critically, let me just say that, and try to analyze what works and doesn’t work. Especially anything that tends to compromise a piece by playing to the crowd. That kind of thing bothers me.
What advice would you give me to be able to find my voice?
Well one of the best exercises, I think, for me or for anybody, is when you see something you like or don’t like, (again this is simplicity 101), to try to explain to yourself what it is about it that you like and don’t like. And do the same thing with your own work. Ron Meyers mentioned one time to me that after each firing when there are pieces that are extra special, follow that lead. Whatever that piece is doing that seems successful, try to pick up where it leaves off. That’s been helpful advice for me and kind of what I try to do too.