“It’s not a way of making a living, it’s a way of making a life”
This film examines the life and philosophy of an acclaimed artist who, for the last 40 years, has chosen not to sell his work.
Paulus Berensohn was born to Jewish émigré parents on Manhattan
Island and, despite family opposition, became a dancer who studied with
greats Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham and appeared in major Broadway
He now lives in Penland, North Carolina, where he has spent years teaching at the acclaimed Penland School of Crafts.
“I knew how to dance on a stage, but how was I going to dance in life?”
This question propelled Paulus into a new life as a potter where he
quickly built a following. In 1973 Simon and Schuster published his
seminal text Finding One’s Way With Clay, which remains a bible for clay
artists around the world and is still in continuous print.
His first show was a sell out, but also his last.
Paulus rejected the idea of art being “usurped by the market place,”
and resolved to either give his work away or “return it to the earth.”
His focus is not on the object, but the act of creation — particularly
how behaving “artistically” can help heal the earth.
Paulus has continued to create, sculpting pots, sewing, drawing,
crafting and creating handmade journals — much of it given away or
donated to charity.
However, in recent years, it has been his work as a mentor, teacher and thinker that has drawn the most attention.
Paulus has given workshops all over the United States, in the UK and
Australia. He lectured at Harvard in 2011, and in 2012 was recognised by
the Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian Institute as a “Distinguished
In the film he discusses his life, philosophy, views on the art world
and his ”fairy godchildren,” his love of movement and ongoing practice
of Qigong and The Alexander Technique, and finally, death and dying.
Running time: 73 minutes