Monday, January 10, 2011

Let Me Try This Again

On Reading Rachel Beckman front, it's still early days, but she touched on my favorite topic for the first time in her blog here, (I've been dying to know how she reconciles the not-very-high status weaving commands,)  proving herself to be versatile, an artist, a beautiful and optimistic soul, a totally different kind of a beast, (a "beast" like a gazelle to my hippo! And that's not self-deprecating because I love hippos; I feel an affinity towards their mostly-submerged life.) I learned from how she stands by her work.

About my not having the tools to think about "art" making: I think about what I do, plan my pieces, and in a half-detached, fearful way, struggle with combining concepts with cloth weaving, much the way one uses extra-long tongs to pick up trash.  Sometimes I spend too much time thinking and not enough doing, but I am reconfirming my suspicion I lack the tools (understanding of the art school parlance??) to think constructively and be able to converse about my cloth making.  It's a pleasure and a privilege to be able to read Rachel's thinking and how ideas manifest into tangible work.  So what can I do to think more effectively?  For starters, to be more vigilant about the vocabulary.

The easiest thing is, for the foreseeable future, (until I feel more qualified and I do hope some day I do,) I'm going to stop thinking of myself as an artist but a maker, a craftsperson, an artisan (who are they anyway??), a weaver. It doesn't matter what the name is, I suppose, as long as I keep weaving.  But I still believe it is valid to discuss the art of weaving, the craft(s-person-ship) of weaving, and weaving as artwork.

About her critiques and my Textile Lunch Group: Firstly, the Textile Lunch group plus a whole lot of other textile women in Nelson are coming to my house on Saturday.  Originally it was in lieu of the end-of-the-year lunch, but I wanted to see a bunch of others, too, and they happen to be all involved with textiles, and many have known each other far longer than I've been in New Zealand, so I decided to invite them all.   

But the more I thought about constructive criticism and mutual encouragement, and that I think my Textile Lunch group has run its course, and because I know at least two others would like a regular group, I thought I'd gather as many as souls as I can and sound out some ideas.  I'd love it if my old TL friends would come, too, but I think the focus need to be on current practitioners this time.    

A common vocabulary is a great tools in sorting one's thoughts and speeds up the discourse.  When a meaningful discourse takes place, if we're careful and focused on the discourse and not the one-up-person-ship, remain genuine and honest, and I think stay in the discussion for some length of time, it has got to be a wonderful stimulation on individual (and collective) creativity.

In the end, whatever I call myself, (the tax department calls me "textile worker - miscellaneous" or similar,) whatever methods I employ to design and make my cloth, if I can make a few pieces once in a while I can be proud of, on which I'm happy to put my name, pieces that satisfy me, that's what matters.  But if I can have friends to hold hands with, in real life and in virtual life, to get over my rocky bits or to help their steep bits, that would make the experience of "making" , and therefore our lives, even more meaningful, doesn't it.

I think that's what I wanted to say in yesterday's post

* * * * *

I've been good today.  I was supposed to take my tax return information to my accountant today, but I was far from finished, so this morning, I unplugged the Internet connection from my laptop and concentrated on the task.  I had to connect again, because so many bills and statements are online nowadays, but I resisted the temptation for short breaks and kept working.

I'm only about halfway done, but by this time tomorrow, hopefully, I'll be finished for another year.

5 comments:

  1. I have just read and re read your post because it rang some bells with me. One of my sons is a painter (Art school educated!!) I love his work but he can sometimes, well rather frequently actually) become enmeshed in arty language which can make me feel clumsy!!! He doesn't mean it ,but there is often an elitist attitude underpinning the desire to seperate Art from practical craft. Its not that there isn't a difference but an attitude that one is not better than the other.Hope that makes sense.

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  2. I have known some artists whose droning on in self aggrandizement is off-putting and frankly, boring.

    However to talk about the elements of art in clear ways is important. I just think that one can over think these things.

    This from a person who can't seem to break out of the scarf format. (not to take myself too seriously) However, I also relate to what you are saying... are you a weaver, a maker, an artist, what? I struggle with the same. I have changed my personal website (which I do not promote as I never feels it really portrays me well) from artist to fiber artist to hand maker and now I have deleted it altogether. The thing is, we are always evolving and once we name what we are now, we soon change.

    Also, in thinking about an opportunity, I have been asked to have a joint art showing with a potter and an etching artist. Both are also craft heavy mediums. But I thought I will need to move beyond the comfort level of scarves. But what do I weave that approaches visual arts and not just a beautiful wrap to warm the neck? Luckily I have until 2012 to arrive at an answer.

    All these questions, and I can't help but think I just need to do and stop thinking so much. But first I will read your links. Perhaps picking up a sketch book would be useful too?

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  3. Deborah, it absolutely does. And early on in Textile Lunch meeting, Rose Griffin (former textile teacher, former potter) pointed that out to me. We were talking about the strange writings of art critics and art writers at that time, but that was definitely something I didn't realize until spelled out to me.

    Having said that, something like a common language definitely helps, I think. For e.g. do you have friends who use "shade" to mean "in the hue of" or "tone" to mean "same/similar hues but different tones"? I know a weaver who uses a phrase "tone on tone" to mean "monochromatic", and photographers who use "monochromatic" to mean "achromatic". All this is fine as long as I understand what they mean, but to speak and understand accurately, I do need to understand the common (?) definition. But then Rose warned me the definitions are a little bit of a moving target.

    Oh, but Dana, a simple scarf can be a piece or art, surely? And not only do we evolve, but I now KNOW it's heavily reliant on societal fashion, too.

    One time, in an all out craft show, curators used mine to highlight a potter's work, whom I happened to know. The curators weren't sure if I liked it. I didn't post a photo of one of mine that really highlighted his pots, but here's a link: http://megweaves.blogspot.com/2007/10/wellington-peddling-my-ware-money.html. That's the fun of leaving curators and exhibition organizers to do their thing. I got noticed for starters because he's far better known than I, and sold two or three pieces there. So you can stick with scarves, or venture into something else.

    For now, I'm more interested in sticking to scarves and shawls and still make art-y (now I'm feeling a tad apologetic about the a-word) pieces than going into visual/textile art style objet d'art.

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  4. Yeah, this is worth repeating. When I consider the art/craft conundrum, I have in mind a square/rectangular piece of woven cloth, not wall hangings and sculptures, though there are nice works in that genre out there.

    I aspire to make art-scarves, maybe? I am now thinking back to a year or two ago a little before Connie Rose switched to quilting when she was considering "Art Cloth", a term I adore, and in my mind, still points to the unembellished, off-the-loom, wet-finished stuff, more or less.

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  5. Yes, scarves can be a piece of art. But they also get put on a shelf with items bought at target (in my clleet anyway.) when I painted silk, there was a limit to what the scarves would fetch. A fellow artist friend said too bad I didn't stretch them onto canvas panels as I could charge a lot more for them, as people would value them as art not fashion. All interesting.

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