So, lately I find myself having a re-occurring conversation among my circle of friends. It's a conversation that I find raises a lot of follow up questions in my mind each tine I have it and that is, "who would I be today if my life experiences had been completely different leading up to this point. What if I had not been raised in my hometown? What if I had not known the struggle of having disabilities? What if I had never known what it was like to face depression and anxiety? What if I never had a good Mom through all the hardships to teach me to cling to Faith when things were tough at home? If I lived a perfect "Leave it to Beaver" life what would the music I do now sound like? Would I have the same mission? Reach the same people?" I think it's safe to say that the way we handle our experience either mold us to be average or make something meaningful of our lives. In my life it has been a priority to build a community of over-comers. People who have taken their challenges and hardships and molded them into amazing works of art.
That's why I'm excited to bring you into the world of my friend Mike Olix, who has overcome the odds and now owns and operates "ClayMagination." Based in his home town of Hornell, New York, "ClayMagination" is an amazing business that relies on passion, creativity and extreme artistic prowess. Mike has poured all these qualities into a multitude of life-like and realistic clay molds and figures. In his shop you'll find clay molds of everyone from Spiderman to Ironman (and pretty much all the "Marvel" and "DC comics" Universe) from Chucky to even ummmm…..ME, Yes, ME!
As a long tie friend of Mike I can tell you that the road for him has not always been an easy one. Much like me, his artistic edge and passion came from hardship. In the early days I got to know Mike and his family when I started my first band project where we both lived at the time in Upstate NY. His talented nephew, Quintin, was a big piece to my beginnings in music and played a mean lead guitar. As you could imagine when Mike's 14 year old daughter, Lacie was diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian Cancer, it took us all by surprise. I remember how taken back I was by the unbelievable news. There were many nights our family kept Mike and his family in prayer and continually hoped for answers and ways to help. I recall the constant state of worry amount their family. Many times I could feel an unspoken tension at band practices with Mike's nephew, Quintin, at my house where the band would create music. Quintin was a laid back kid of few words. I knew that if I could sense the worry on him it had to be completely devastating to them all. When first diagnosed doctors gave 14 year old Lacie only a 12% chance to survive the year. Mike and his family were at their wits end and I knew as someone watching even from a distance that the stress and anxiety surrounding Lacie's situation was eating them alive. Treatment after treatment, fundraiser after fundraiser, prayers after prayers Lacie and her family defied the odds and shocked many doctors and medical professionals as she slowly reached remission. At the time of Lacie's struggle with cancer Mike's artistic passion was sparked by channeling his anxiety into drawings. Accoring to Mike "my artwork helped me channel pain into beauty at the time. I was a pencil artist at the time and drew my frustrations away."
In another unrelated, life changing incident Mike himself spent a long time in the hospital battling his own demons and health issues. It was then that Mike's passion for drawing would evolve into an even deeper one for the art of clay molding. "When I was sick I was at a high point in my career and lost the motivation to move forward. When I held clay I didn't think it would turn into anything. But then I made a sculpture and it wasn't too bad. I would work day and night. When I was in the hospital I would sculpt when the pain became unbearable. Watching my creations come to life was amazing. The hospital staff would make it a point to see what the "Clay Guy" made overnight. The more I enjoyed the work the more I dedicated to learn to do it better."
Mike now has taken his passion birthed out of extreme hardship and runs his own unique and creative business through "ClayMagination." I would encourage you all to get to know Mike and befriend him. He offers custom sculpting services to those looking for unique gifts and admire his work. You can contact him on Facebook.
Out of your pain what unique gifts, talents, and perspectives has God maybe given you? Are you overlooking how your experiences can be molded into tools to help others? Wherever you are in your journey I hope you are soon to realize the purpose of your pain.
Isaiah 64:8 -"But now Lord you are our Father. We are the clay and you are the potter. All of us are the work of Your hand."