An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sydney Y. '22

As a perfectionist, it can be hard to leave things as they are. An artist, they say, should never use an eraser, because there are no mistakes. I’ve spent the better part of my artistic career doing the exact opposite because I tend to get upset over the little things when they don’t work out as I had envisioned.

I was almost done sculpting my canopic jar and was feeling pretty victorious–as I haven’t had the best experience working with clay–when it happened. In an attempt to examine all sides of my nearly completed work, the head of the jar toppled off and fell to the ground. Half of the head was caving in and I didn’t know what to do, as my heart thumped with nervous frustration.

Previously, I would have given up or restarted the entire thing, but for some reason, while staring at the misshapen head, I decided to be spontaneous and try an idea I had been thinking about for a while. I wanted to make the jar more visually interesting by venturing outside the typical features associated with cats, while still acknowledging their natural environments.

While I was trying to build the structure of the head back up, I realized the bits of clay I was adding looked like flower petals. Then I remembered the artist and the eraser saying I’ve been told since I was little. At that moment, I decided that for once, I would try and make something new of an unideal situation.

In the end, I think that changing and adapting my jar was 100% worth it. By having to come up with an idea after a sudden setback, I was forced to step outside my comfort zone. Now, the rose that sits atop the cat’s head is probably my favorite thing about the entire sculpture and it’s something that makes it unique. If I had stopped and given up, the piece wouldn’t have had the same story and dynamic that comes with being so imperfectly perfect.