Bekah Bliss | Episode 875
Bekah Bliss is a ceramic artist living in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Bekah received a BFA in Ceramics and a BSED in Art Education from Missouri State University in 2016. Recently selected as one of Ceramic Monthly’s Emerging Artists, Bekah’s functional ceramics are carefully considered — utilizing textured surfaces, modeled on elements of nature and architecture. In 2019, Bekah joined the KC Urban Potters, an artist collective that’s expanding the visibility of contemporary studio pottery through public lectures and curated exhibitions, alongside events like the Midwest Pottery Festival. Bekah currently teaches monthly classes at the Belger Arts Center and is the part-time studio manager for 323CLAY.
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Were you surprised at the amount of non-business things that school didn’t you or prep you for?
Yes and no. I think you know, some of it is pretty obvious coming out of it. You’re like, Oh wow! There’s all this stuff I need to learn. And in other instances it was kind of like getting my degree in art education when you go into a real classroom to observe and you see how, it’s one thing to read about classroom management and it’s another thing to experience it and learn how to actually manage a classroom. So I think that school can be wonderful but you learn a lot more just getting thrown in there and having to do it after being out of school.
Are you grateful for that time of being able to throw yourself one hundred percent into it?
Oh definitely. Yeah, I think that residencies are a wonderful way to do that too because it’s a way to put yourself into a supportive system where you’ll find mentors and peers that can really encourage you, even just having conversations about your work. I had a real privilege to get to know Steven Hill and getting to know the urban potters too and just surrounding yourself with people that are encouragers. There’s a lot to learn from people who have gone before you.
When trying to figure out it you like what you are doing is it failure to pivot or is it okay to pivot?
Oh, you brought up the word failure which is wonderful to talk about always in the clay community because it is such a large part of what we do, because you can’t avoid it really when making things with clay and it’s hard but I have slowly learned over time that having less fear of the failure and it’s just positive because there’s something to learn in every situation.
Was it helpful to slightly shift a little?
Definitely, it takes the pressure off in some ways. I think initially I felt really good about that idea. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic book and it’s a really great one for creatives because she talks about how she did lots of different jobs while she was trying to be a creative person. And seeing it as an opportunity to take those things from other jobs and either put that towards your creative practice or to have a job that doesn’t take away your creative energy so that you can show up to the studio and really put in your best effort.
Is it really important to have a support group that helps you to talk it out, to find out really where your direction should be going or what could be added to it?
Oh, definitely. I think do whatever you can to find people that you can trust and rely on and if you are struggling you can go to them and be really honest about where you are at. I have been really fortunate to have kind of a lot of those people around me at different times to bounce problems off of.
In order to find what you want in life is it important to be open to change?
Yeah, absolutely. We aren’t in control of very much and so I think that if you are open to it it’s a lot easier to move on to the next thing and yeah, I think change is hard. It’s not something that we are naturally inclined to and want to be open to all the time but it’s good to be open to it.