The last couple weeks have been hard on my corner of the clay world. Friends of mine have publicly shared experiences of bullying and harassment, and then weathered more bullying and harassment in the responses of some of our colleagues. They’ve been asked for more details. They’ve been asked to prove it. They’ve been treated with hostility or dismissed.
And I get it. If you’ve had nothing but good experiences with an organization like Pottery Northwest, and now you’re hearing vague reports of some pretty egregious behavior, this all feels sudden and bewildering.
At my first NCECA in Kansas City I kept hearing from all corners how supportive and accepting the clay world was. Not all snarky and back-stabbing like other corners of the art world. No, we clay people were more down to earth. More willing to share and help. Our friendships were real and warm, not quietly competitive. We lifted each other up, and were cheerleaders for new and established potters alike.
Well … these last couple weeks have told a different story. Actions speak louder than words, and if you’ve been replying aggressively in the comments, I and other artists have seen it and now know we can’t trust you if we need help. As many stories as I’ve heard about the warm and accepting cocoon that this clay community is ... you aren’t a safe part of it.
I’m still a new and small fish in this pond, but I’m going to work hard to build the kind of community that was advertised to me. I hope that wherever you are and however this has affected you, you have someone in your corner supporting you, cheering you on, and lovingly holding you accountable.