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Re: Future of Craft



After the recent comments on lack of variety and the greater resemblance to
machine made objects in recent posts, I thought I would finally stick my oar
in. IMHO it is not only craft as to objects that is in question, but in
relation to all arts--dance, theater, music and voice performance, writing,
visual art. (Have I missed any?  Well, those too.) Let's throw computers into
the mix and one of the things that happens/is happening still is a standard
of perfection that discourages, by comparison, much experimentation and risk.

I recall being told (by a person who shall remain nameless) at a PBI that I
should not write my text in my books, because there were so many simple ways
to get text into books that my failure to discover and employ them indicated
not only a lack of "craft" and seriousness on my part, but an ambivalence
about communication. On the other hand, having distanced myself (I was a
novice, what did I know) from my own hand, I was told by a calligraphy
instructor at a different PBI that I needed to loosen up and allow myself to
experiment with the kind of marks I was already comfortable making. I still
have not been able to rediscover what I was attempting at the start, i.e.,
how to make my words an organic part of my books.

To me, these two responses are a small illustration of the gulf over which we
are all hanging our toes. There as many ways to make books (and as many
reasons) as there are people making them. Why do human beings need to
establish hierarchies by which to judge the creative efforts of others, and
do we truly gain anything when we do so? People used to entertain themselves
and one another by playing instruments, singing, dancing, writing and
performing plays, stories and songs, and making art of all kinds. While there
were clearly "experts", even then, no one was excluded or excluded themselves
from these communal activities.

Now, we watch others do these things on TV and in theaters and symphony
halls, we look at art in galleries and museums. And those of us who still
devote ourselves, to at least some degree, to creative endeavor, either
apologize for our amateur status or belittle those whose work is not enough
like our own to affirm us.

Personally, I think Art, by whatever name, transcends that. And I think
anyone who is teaching others must, at least on some level, agree.

Barbara Harman


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