Sunday, August 5, 2007

Meeting Number Three with Megg Hewlett

Yesterday, in heavy rain, at my house, Megg started with her Gem of the Day: "My hands are jealous of all the work my head does," and you know it opened the floodgate of my " Am I a fake?" discussion. I think we agreed one way of differentiating an artist from an artisan/craftsperson/weaver&felter is whether s/he feels the work represents something of the maker, and in Megg's case, they do; in my case, they don't, and as of last night, I reached the conclusion that the best I can hope to become is an expert artisan/craftsperson/weaver. Which is not a bad thing.

But the distinction of art/craft, or more that of artists/craftsperson, just doesn't leave me alone, not because of the perceived status, or prices the works can fetch, but because, to me, art/artist imply a way of life, whereas craft/craftsperson make the act of making sound more like a job. More importantly, to me, artist implies that her/his work changes as the maker changes, whereas a craftsperson more or less sticks to a styles and produces many of that style. Think potter with molded pieces. And it is in this vein that I so long to be an artist.

Which leads to a lot of things I discussed with Agnes while I was up north.

We agreed on a lot of things as regards artist vs craftsperson, and I find her to be an artist because she meets both of the above criteria, and yet she prefers to call herself a weaver, and her studio, a workshop. I have no problems with that, and I used to feel the same; it's also the self-effacing Kiwi tendency to choose the vernacular, to show we are not pretentious, though neither of us were born here. But becoming a member of Arts Marketing made me switch my terminology over time, partially to conform with whatever terms they used, but more to reflect my long-term aspirations and to keep me on my toes and never be satisfied at whatever progress I make. It also makes me feel more responsible for what I make, which, in marketing terms, would be that dreaded term, "professional".

Megg also proposed a third criteria; that if your work (both the end product and the process of making) has a back story, the maker is an artist. This is a more difficult one, because I can go on about the technical process of making a particular piece, but I haven't got much of a personal story as to how I became a weaver, or what part of me is reflected in the pieces I weave, or so I thought. Megg told me otherwise; I'll have to mull over this.

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