On The Road

Tory Hughes, Orrery Neckpiece, 1993One afternoon several years ago, Pier and I were driving slowly around Oakland and Alameda, looping along Interstate-980 in the ubiquitous dense traffic that proves you are in The Bay Area. She had picked me up at Jeremy Gordon’s house in Berkeley to take me over, see her studio, hang out a bit.

We had already known each other for a while, in that sporadic shows-and-conferences way that many of us relate, but this was a slower, more personal meeting. We were enjoying the chance to talk at leisure, without an agenda, not between classes, but just as friends getting to know each other a bit better… There was an unforced intimacy in the bumper-to-bumper traffic that deepened our talk. The topic of ‘the artist’ came up. As we talked more about what that is, what it means and predicts about someone’s actions, I said “I always think of you as a Real Artist, because you stay so focused on polymer and bead design. You don’t waver or get distracted. You have committed such time and perseverance to illuminating your concept of ‘the bead’. Pier Voulkos, hort Fancy necklaceYou are devoted to finding everything about polymer clay that supports this concept of ‘the bead’. You do it so well, you know so much, and so many people love you for what you do and how you do it”.

She chuckled in her gracious way, and said “well, Tory, I have always thought of you as a Real Artist, because you keep experimenting in different areas, take chances, and keep moving your creative interests through different media. You stay with that creative impulse and never let it go, you ride it as far as you can, you take great chances and risks. Then you can talk about what you were doing and thinking, so people can share that process.” Then of course we both had to laugh, honored and humbled by each other. I learned a lot that day. I tell this story from time to time, and everyone hears just what they need to within it.