David Shaner was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in the late 1990s when he was in his mid-60s. He felt many of his neurological problems stemmed from the glazes he developed and used, especially the manganese in his black crystalline Maria glaze.
Everything in an artist's life is important. Everything feeds into your life, and if you are aware of what is around you, then it affects your work. You saturate your body with all the images. I listen to music constantly. It feeds my creative psyche. Sometimes I make sketches of a pot, but I found I could draw pots I couldn't make and could make pots I couldn't draw. Perhaps I would sketch a new piece, but for the most part I allowed the clay to speak for me, and I went on from there.
My recent pots evolved slowly over the years. Some of my latest pots were ideas I had in my mind somewhere for years and years, and they crept out slowly and became part of the things I made. The natural process is good. It's not important to change your style every year, although galleries seem to prefer that sort of thing. If you work naturally, your pots will change. You reach a place where you only become an instrument for the pot to make itself.
It's important to pay attention to [the] odd-ball pieces you make. In many instances, these odd-ball pieces become your statement. Many of my recent pieces are reflections of experimentations over the years, and simply took a long time to surface.
All works of art are beautiful when they suggest something beyond themselves. Indeed, pottery is about more than the making of pottery. It is about developing the whole life. I was fortunate to have the advantage of doing something I love doing. There were times, certainly, when I was tired of making pots, but I can truly say that when I entered my studio every day I felt good about what I was doing. Even after long tiring hours, I was always glad I was a potter and never thought about being anything else.
I am proud to be a small part of the American clay movement. There is no question that something intangible left my body now that I can no longer work. I'm a prisoner of my body, but music is my way to escape. If I were a composer, it might be said that while I never wrote ostentatious symphonies, I wrote string quartets filled with clarity, serenity, humility, and I hope, love.
Excerpts from Shaner's Red (A Studio Potter Monograph)