Porcelain Magic by Janka Hobbs | Kirkland Arts Center Claygraphy Writing Contest Winner

Posted Tue, 8/30/2016 - 11:42am by  |  Category:

We recently partnered with Kirkland Arts Center to present Claygraphy, a free two-part workshop, in conjunction with their gallery exhibition Clay? VI, which closes September 10. In the first part of the class, attendees were guided through the process of ekphrastic writing, or writing about art. The following class, which was open to all, invited everyone to submit a short piece of prose or poetry inspired by the art in the exhibit.

We were so happy to partner with Kirkland Arts Center and to see the wonderful instructor Dianne Aprile facilitating the writing workshop. We believe that it’s incredibly important to participate in and celebrate the relationship between visual art and the written word. It was an honor to read the finalists chosen by Kirkland Arts Center and to select a winner to feature here on the Hugo blog.

The winner also received publication of the piece in the journal Small Po[r]tions and books on ekphrastic writing generously donated by Aprile.

We selected Janka Hobbs‘ short piece, “Porcelain Magic,” based on Scott Rosenberg’s Untitled, because we found its dark whimsy to be a fantastic tonal reflection of the original artwork. Congratulations, Janka!

“I walked into the KAC gallery for the ekphrastic workshop and as soon as I saw ‘Untitled’ on the wall in front of me, I knew there was a story about a magician in it. I was sure that other people would be writing about the piece, so I tried to come up with something to say about one of the other pieces in the show. However, the bit about the magician insisted on getting written,” Hobbs said.

The major takeaway from the class was a reminder of how much fun this really is. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that.”


Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.13.39 AM

Scott Rosenberg, Untitled, ceramic, glaze, marker, glue. Photo taken from kirklandartscenter.org

Porcelain Magic

by Janka Hobbs

The trouble with being a magician is that sometimes the magic works. No, not the sleight-of-hand, saw-the-girl-in-half-but-not-really sort of magic that pays the bills and gets one invited to stuffy cocktail parties with too much alcohol and not enough food.

Real magic. The original kind.

The stuff you really can’t talk about at those kinds of parties.

Coming home afterwards, perhaps a touch tipsy, you set your false-bottomed top hat neatly on the side table, and your grandmother’s prized porcelain vase winks at you, grabs the hat, and dives off the table. You might, at first, attribute that to the being tipsy. But when the vase gathers up its shattered pieces, glares at you as if gravity was your own personal fault, stuffs the hat on top of itself, and scuttles out of the door. . .

[I thought I had locked that.]

That kind of magic.

I wasn’t sure if I should run after it or barricade the door.

That hat was expensive.

I should have barricaded the door and gone straight to bed, never mind the hangover.

Instead, I made myself a cup of tea and some toast and contemplated doing the next night’s show sans hat. Could I fit enough tricks up my sleeve?

The teacup was skeptical. The toaster pinged, and I opened the cupboard to get a plate. The soup tureen dove off the top shelf, barely missing my head (good thing I have quick reflexes), and shattered on the floor. The pieces swarmed out the door, presumably in search of the vase.

I grabbed the shotgun from the closet, and ran out into the darkness after them.

What was I thinking? The tureen had left shards all over the front steps, and I slipped and fell.

With a sound of tinkling laughter, the tureen absconded with the gun, and with my right hand as well.

I crawled back inside to cry into my teacup.

Luckily, the teacup took pity on me, convinced the plate to help, and, as soon as the sun rose, lassoed a rainbow. Up we went.

The view from here is incredible.

If I ever catch that vase. . .


Janka Hobbs grew up in Albuquerque, chasing lizards and feeding bugs to spiders. She now lives in the Puget Sound lowlands, where she studies botany and aikido when she’s not playing with words.