When I wrote the other day about feeling not completely at home in the craft-only world nor in the art-only world, a person commented and asked me to say more. Well, you hardly have to twist my arm to get me to say more (it is far more challenging to say less!), so I will do my best to explain further and clarify what I was getting at.
My thoughts were sparked by a question that someone asked at the closing remarks of A Handmade Assembly, which was, can you describe in one word what is different about what we are up to (if I may use the word, "we") as opposed to any other artist. People came up with all sorts of replies, mostly more than one word but some of the words that did get spoken of were: sincerity, attitude, honesty. I especially like attitude. Maybe I would add: generousity.
But it is a slippery slope. Everything we said also could be applied to painters or others who use "traditional" art materials. It clearly isn't the materials that make the difference. "Attitude" resonated well with me. One of the moderators made a comparison of what we had been doing all weekend to people who engage with a church community - get together to do things, have meals, discuss ideas, tell stories, and generally appreciate and honour what we were all doing. He was going out a limb to use a religious metaphor in that crowd but he had a point.
I am not afraid of religious talk, so I could see what he was getting at and I think he isn't far off. In the end, I don't think there is one word that can be said to sum up whatever difference there is between those of us who take up handmade as part of exactly what we want to talk about in our work.
As I worked in my studio yesterday, I felt something that felt like an answer to the ongoing dialogue about this that has been happening in my head. It didn't come out as words exactly. Well, it did come out as words but not answering kind of words...more questioning kinds of words.
But who wants answers anyway?