Craig Edwards, a Minnesota potter, tells how his backyard waterway, the Mill Pond in New London, Minnesota, has influenced his life and work.
This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
"Hello, I am Craig Edwards, and I am a potter, and I live in New London, Minnesota. We live on the Mill Pond and we really enjoy the Mill Pond. It is a lot of things to us. It’s more than water; it’s our thermometer; it’s our weather reporter. It has a calming influence and a river. And the Mill Pond, it’s different than a lake because it flows. That is a key aspect. It is also, it is an indicator of how the seasons flow. Like right now, it is liquid water and there are waves and we can see waves and we can see reflections. In the winter, you can walk on it. It takes a shape and the snow will mound up on it and cause really nice, clean, pure surfaces.
One of the qualities of water that I really like is that it reflects. So at night, the lights off the street lamps will reflect and wave out at us. It is always waving at us some way or another. If it is not waving at us, it is a perfect reflection of life. I really enjoy that. The Mill Pond, it reflects if the sky is blue, if it is cloudy. It will enhance the ambiance of where we live. Most of the time, I don’t notice it because I have lived here for so long.
When I really notice it is when I leave, and it’s not here, and I realize how much it influences my life continuously through all sorts of different ways. I am really interested in combining the art of tea, and it helps raise pottery to more of a higher level. Of course tea, you have water—actually, it is almost all water—and most of the vessels that I make contain water, in a way. I had not even thought of that before that it does; so it is probably more of a part of the art form than I actually realized until right now.
That most of the vessels I make are made to contain water. It is actually a really huge part of what I do. I think about it in my art at times, but it is a conscious thought, but I have not really resolved on how to express that. That is one of the things with art that you are grappling with all the time is, 'How do you express these things that you see?' I have not really found a good vocabulary yet to express it, but it is there. It is there and hopefully it will inform my creative philosophy. Course then off that, then you have to pick your materials, and on and on before it actually manifests itself, so I think it starts with a creative philosophy that has water in the forefront and it has to be in the forefront because it is the very essence of life."