Monday, August 29, 2011

Group R

The Group met at my house today, and I didn't realize since last meeting, we had an official name; it's "R".  It originated in the story of red threads in Japan, which I totally forgot until I read Elaine Lipson's first blog post, (couldn't find exactly where she told the story,) and members liked my retelling it. "R" also means "are", as we are, and constantly changing as we continue to exist and make.  Something like that.

We discussed some specifics about our October 2012 exhibition, and I've been allowed to organize the after-Opening dinner party!  Woo hoo!

Since Pat brought it up, I showed and talked what I've done with P2P2 so far, which got us stuck into my conundrum of what is weaving vs enhancements/additions, and why I choose to restrict/work-within-the-rules-of loom/cloth weaving.  Ronnie, who teaches design among other things, had lots of pertinent comments and questions for me, but I got lost because I've become set in my ways, more in my thinking than in my practice.  I need to recap, for myself. Because my opinions have taken shape over many years and when we discuss these, I don't always remember why I've come to think one way or another. 

The Making
I'd like to make unadorned cloths to have included in exhibitions; not felted, embroidered, cut up, sewn, quilted, and often not even painted, Ikat-dyed or overdyed.  The naked cloth, as it were.  (But after today's meeting, I have to examine which methods/styles of installation I feel is acceptable as I noticed conflicting/hypocritical ideas I have.)

My Experiences with Exhibition Briefs
The reason why I've come to want to make the naked cloth originated in the very first exhibition brief I requested. It was for a textile art exhibition called something like "Fibre Fantasia", held in Marlborough, New Zealand, from around 2004 or 05, and it stated specifically that submissions could not be just "a woven square or rectangle."  (I do wish I had kept it; it was the year the theme was either "fire" or "flame". Does anyone have it?) I walked around the house my jaw dropped for an entire afternoon. 

Then in the first "Changing Threads" brief, contained something like "using traditional techniques to express concepts in a contemporary manner," which to me meant the same. And I was furious at the first two years of that show as there were many, many pretty pieces, which to me didn't contain a whole heck of a lot of concepts. I could have made something pretty!    

If you follow the briefs strictly, (and I do, because I attended a Convent School, am Japanese, and was raised by strict parents, so I always read the rules to avoid being scolded!) there are very few places "just a woven square or rectangle" can be exhibited except guild exhibitions or one's own. Many exhibitions I've looked into call themselves "textile art" exhibitions, but then they specify in their briefs embroidery, (art) quilt, etc. But now I'm preaching to the choir. 

What I pick up from reading/discussing "art"
Art is more valuable than craft, and what separates the two is "concept" or "intention".  My interpretation of "concept", then, is to do the "design process" taught by whoever teaches them.  I enjoy these, but the "process" never ties in with the sort of cloth I want to make.  Not really.  I like to make pretty cloth.

Wanting to be called an artist is ego, I think.  I value craftsmanship; technical expertise is very important to me, but in the West, "craft", I feel, is viewed so much inferior to art. Whereas I come from a place where craft is more respected than non-utilitarian art. 

I've talked about the contempt I feel about my work after it's done in the past.  I've often wondered if it's more artist-ly to feel less detached from one makes; I don't think I ever feel vulnerable about showing what I make, because I'm never "putting myself out there", just showing you what I made. And instead, I see all the flaws in my work, as well as the good bits, and feel slightly disgusted about the pieces and therefore my incompetence.  I'd like to feel a little more ... involved, or even sentimental (?) about what I make.  And I've been told by many that this feeling would emerge from the design process.   

Ronnie's Observations
1. Is there something I want to say/express through my pieces? If so, does that come through my finished design/piece?
2. Perhaps I'm more into the making and not so much in the expression. Why do I think that's not as valid?
3. Looking at the material I accumulated so far for P2P2, there is a gap or a skip, and I need to bridge the gap.

My Response for Now
1. No, I guess I have nothing to say through my pieces.  I just want to make pretty cloth.
2. Never thought of it that way.  My ego now says "expression" is art, being into the making is "craft"; if this is the case, it's my ego getting in the way; I want to be in the top class, not a second- or third-class citizen. And then theres is the small matter of the time/labor required to weave, which makes me feel weaving isn't just mass-producing, say, coffee mugs from the same mold, and all my pieces are one-offs. 
3. This is a point I didn't understand but we ran out of time so I couldn't find out more.  If she's observing where my design process ends and where my weaving starts, yes, there is a big gap, but this wasn't what she was responding to, so I need to find out more.

* * * * *

The matter of the fiber artist who felt excluded was discussed as well, and I find it strange to find myself on the "excluding" side as one of the original three who proposed starting the group.  Because I thought I was always trying to be as inclusive as possible.  Obviously, effectively, not so in this case.  

* * * * *

I'm so glad we finally have a name, which they tell me we had since the last meeting.  Anyway, "The Group" is the name of a very famous group of painters (and possibly sculptors) from before WWII in Christchurch/Canterbury, and I never intended to copy or liken us to them, but it was the only name I could think of until we had something.  Phew. 

1 comment:

  1. I think I need to mention I am not an angst-ridden weaver that I may appear to be from time to time. Most of the time I find designing and weaving fun and pleasurable; sometimes even thrilling. I am clueless as to how the prescribed design process can be connected to my weaving, or whether it needs to. And I'm not sure why I think it's so important to follow the prescribed route.

    Other possibilities include: I'm just not a sophisticated-enough thinker/maker to contemplate concepts in my making; I'm too lazy and deep down can't be bothered by the process; or something else entirely.

    There is just one thing I am sure of: I don't want to make what I perceive as ugly just to make a statement. In fact, I don't really have much to say through my weaving. What I need to say, I say in words, I talk and I blog.

    Where does that leave me??


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