Sunday, December 7, 2008

Let's belly up to a raised bar!

Ah yes, home at last... I had a show in Syracuse, NY this past weekend that was held by the Syracuse Peace Council. What a wonderful show! The atmosphere was excellent, I had the great fortune of being set up near all my friends, excellent food was available and the customers were some of the nicest, kindest people I have ever met. The best aspect of the show was, without a doubt, the high quality of work offered by the many artists and craftspeople. It was a true pleasure to be surrounded by such talent from potters to basket weavers to glass blowers and metalsmiths. The variety of jewelry was magnificent - there was a ton of it (as is always the case) but each artists had their own distinct style. The organizers did an excellent job of jurying the show and as a result the people that attended were treated to a real visual feast.

There are many who poo-poo juried shows and over the past several years there has been a big push toward "indie" shows and DIY shows. They can be excellent venues, there is no doubt about that, but there is something to be said for the strictly juried show. I am a firm believer that all craftspeople and artists should be continually striving to raise their own bar, improve their quality of work and (at the risk of sounding ridiculously corny) be all that they can be. There seems to be a collective attitude that being just average is just fine. In fact, I have watched with both disappointment and fascination as low-level craft tutorials are promoted as hip and indie when the reality is that they are the same crafts being taught to children in grade school. I fully understand the appeal of naive art and the charming simplicity that can be found in a child's painting is undeniable but as grown adults who desire to make a living from the work of their hands - well, shouldn't we want to aim higher?

The hipsterizing (yes, I made that word up) of low-level craft has been an interesting development over the past several years. Some call it a "Craft Revolution" but I seriously doubt that this era will be going into the art history books as such. Take a moment to review the true Arts and Crafts movement of the early part of the last century, or the work and astounding amount of talent that came out the Bauhaus school in Germany.

Speaking for myself, I have a long way to go. There are many, many skills I have yet to learn and there is much I want to do to improve my work and advance forward. I do believe that we are a reflection of those we surround ourselves with and the same goes for our craft as well. If you want to improve and raise your own bar surround yourself with the work you admire. (Do NOT, for the love of Jebus, copy it - use it to inspire!) Let's all aim high!


Fab Fibers said...

Bravo Nancy! I totally agree with how you feel. I've been to so many "craft shows", I would call them "crap shows". Its unbeleivable the things they let people pawn off as handmade. Even when they have to send pictures of the booth and displays, usually what you "see" isn't what you "get" at show time. And sometimes the buttholes wouldn't even take the time to scratch off the made in China labels. Personally I think its harder to get into juried shows and I think that's just fine. Its a great appreciation of the arts if you ask me. Sometimes I can't afford all those beautiful items, but I tell the artist when I really like their things. I have some nice peices of artwork and every day I look at them I find something I didn't see before.

Becca said...

This post is wonderfully written.

I've only just started doing shows. One was a non-juried come one, come all. The other was much smaller, indie and juried. I liked the smaller one better. There was something rewarding, beyond the possibility of sales, in knowing I had been chosen to participate. It gave me an added level of confidence in talking about my work to customers.

SummersStudio said...

Well said! I quite agree with you. As artists/crafts people it is important to raise the bar if only for our own self improvement.

Patricia said...

Amen Nancy!!!

(How is the new rabbit doing?)

Karen- WAJ said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!! We don't usually raise the bar until forced. There is an change in attitude which must occur when going from craft (crap) to fine craft. It is a honing of confidence, imagination and sheer determination. Not easy to get there sometimes, but it feels so good when you do!