From a background of intense practicality, raised in poverty by a single-mother in Appalachia, I ascended into the confusing, often counter-intuitive worlds of university education, and fine-art. Making these disparate ends meet was a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed: in me was an intersection of the high, and the low; the sacred and the profane.
In my youth, I had lived the grit-life, working hard to make ends meet in a more practical sense; from cleaning carpet at age 13 I proceeded to do anything from brick-laying, building, and lawn-care, to scrapping metal, assembling cabinetry, and cleaning gutters. But, my spirit was unbroken by such labors; to the contrary, I took great pleasure in the opportunity for learning that such tasks presented; and I took full advantage of each.
I worked hard to earn my living, and developed skill using the rusty and forgotten tools of absent men; I learned that a tool can be a great teacher, even if the curriculum is trial-and-error... I applied the same ethic to my education as well as my art, with hopes of forging a university career. I completed graduate school and stepped out onto the collapse of the markets, at the wake of the housing-finance crisis in 2008. Oddly enough, though I had earned a BFA, and an MFA, neither of these stood a chance of paying the bills. I went back to one of the fields which fed me through young-adulthood; housing/apartment and facility maintenance... where I remained until a small Wayne County based social enterprise presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to forge an unique intersection between my areas of interest, expertise, and education.
Many divide art into the functional, and non-functional, I hear it often; my wife is a ceramicist. Are we talking coffee mugs, pitchers and plates, or "sculptural" works, forms, exercises, and "decor?" Likewise, for better or worse, we divide life into the functional and non-functional; we either make "art" to be art in and of itself, or we apply "art" to improve in taste upon functional objects. But, these distinctions (just like most distinctions) do not hold. Few things teach that so thoroughly as rearing children...
At this point in my life, with a four-year-old daughter, and a two-year-old son (at the time of this writing...) I see that everything stands a chance to be practical, and everything stands a chance to be art. My art is my work, and my work is my art: there is no overlap; they are one-in-the-same.
My whole life I aspired to teaching, and who knew I would land the best gig in the world... I'm a dad, and I know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are no distinctions; everything matters.
~J. Deacon Stone