Observing without interpreting: Living in the present of one’s work

Observing without interpreting

The wisdom of leaving things as they are and perceiving reality without changing or interpreting it is part of Tibetan teachings. Seemingly paradoxical, instead of striving to modify or perfect, another approach emerges: contributing, being present, accepting imperfections.

There’s a word dear to me, seldom used: Metamorphosis. Not merely a transformation of form, but a deep mystery woven with arcane laws that evade mental control. When students arrive at the studio, our work begins with clay or color. In the ‘timelessness’ of lessons, I observe, I am a Witness. The crux of my work is to observe things as they are, without altering or interpreting them.

The student judges themselves, often using criteria learned from family or society. They dissect their work mercilessly, creating classifications—mastery, ugliness, right, wrong. The crucial part is observing things as they are, without changing them, without words, without judgments. To live in the present of one’s work, in the non-time, in the non-mind… there’s nothing else.

In this state of attentive Witness, one learns to live with contrast, with softness, with error, with a successful process, with what lies before us. My lessons lack speeches, dogmas. I immerse myself in absolute emptiness, observe what unfolds. At the end of the work, it’s not about attaching a string of conclusions; it’s about dwelling in silence, in the quality of the artistic process, in the non-mind. Observing with awareness allows one to remove patterns, masks, the idea of perfection; being with what is, is a daily exercise. Art always reveals who we are. It’s from observing things as they are that metamorphosis begins.

During the years of training, a fundamental part was knowing how to observe things as they are. My teachers spent so much time on this, knowing how to observe… What do you see? What’s there? Not what you think, not what you wish… what is it? How is it? Smooth, rough, thick, thin, heavy, light… observation, solely and exclusively observation. Like a Zen koan.

manuelametra
manuelametra

Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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