Vessel – Repair Series by Adam T. Lefebvre (adamlefebvre.ca)
We see beauty in the imperfect, so why do we fail to acknowledge
our own perfection?
I messed up my writing so I need to start again
I loved this scarf until I snagged it.
Now it’s imperfect and I’m so sad
If I avoid every crack in the pavement it (whatever that is) will be perfect
I like my face aside from that one imperfection.
It really grates on me
You look perfect, not a hair out of place
Darling, you did it perfectly! Clever girl
The simple addition of an apostrophe can change this word from one absolute to its opposite. Actually, that’s a lie as it isn’t an opposite. There is such a fine line, a hair’s width, between something that is perfect and imperfect but we are brought up to believe that perfection is the accepted norm.
Yet these are outside pressures for we are born, essentially, perfect. That is, we are ourselves, no more and no less. It is only as we grow up and face a multitude of measurements and comparisons that our own, individual, perfection becomes imperfect. Look at the phrases above; do you recognise yourself in any of them? Were they spoken to you as a child and did you feel the shaming burn of realising whatever you did wasn’t good enough? Or perhaps it was the 10/10 you scored; you had the glow of achievement from reaching your perfect 10 coupled with an anxiety that you’d have to achieve it again, and again, and again.
These early childhood pressures continue to adulthood and beyond. It’s therefore no surprise that this backdrop of perceived achievement and the quest for perfection in many countries precedes ever increasing rates of anxiety and depression. It is reaching epidemic proportions.
There is an alternative and, as Lee once said, “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it” (McQueen, no date). This was certainly the prevailing attitude when it came to repairs of china – be they everyday utility objects or a Ming vase. If it broke you, not having the funds to replace it, sought out someone to repair it; to carefully apply staples or forge a new edge from metal.
For years, this repaired china was viewed as inferior and commanded less value (albeit still useful). There has been a gradual sea change in this attitude as collectors seek out the imperfect, repaired, pieces. They do so because the object is only part of the attraction and what holds more excitement is the story it tells, who owned it, how it was used, how it was broken, and repaired. Contemporary ceramic artists such as Adam T. Lefebvre, Penny Byrne, and Sudarshan Shetty are responding to this rejection of perfection by designing new pieces with intentional repairs.
Are we not all stories rather than the sum of such a narrow definition? Is society becoming fatigued by the quest for perfection? Perhaps, like the china collectors there is acknowledgement that perfection is fleeting, a state of existence that is transitory, and not a defined ‘normal’.
#imperfect > imperfect > I’m perfect
What do you see?