the importance of artists & craftsmen

Inspiring me November continued:

Part of our summer vacation included time in Chicago.  One of my favorite cities!  During our visit we spent time at the Field Museum.  The anthropological collections there are phenomenal.  I have been to lots of museums, and have seen plenty of historical displays of various cultures, etc.  But something clicked in my head during this visit.  I know, I can be a bit slow… but I fully realized for the first time how important artists are.  Of course, among the displays there were objects made for royalty or for important ceremonial purposes, but there were several displays of items used in the everyday.  Vessels for cooking that had patterns, and clothing that had intricate embroidery or beading, and even a life-sized home that incorporated weaving designs in the walls.

In the ages represented in these displays,  there did not exist thousands of computer images, or Target/Walmart/Malls, or mass-produced designs.  So imagine being a person of artistic skill in that time.  It seems like it was a highly valued skill to be able to pull designs from the mind’s eye and then to create from clay or straw or wood or precious metal an object of use or ceremony.  Honestly, as I walked through the museum I felt a huge shift blossoming in my chest.

1. Oba’s memorial head 9-2-2012, 2. The Field Museum-41, 3. Basket from Alaska. (Field Museum, Chicago), 4. you have the wrong bear, 5. head ornament, India, 19th century, 6. The Sun God Opal, carved opal set in gold (35-carat opal), 7. Myriad of Shoes, 8. Field Museum – Africa, 9. masks, 10. Ancient Americas exhibit, Field Museum, 11. canopic jars, limestone, Third Intermediate Period, 12. Tuareg Amulet Pouch Algeria, 13. Rings, 14. Field Museum, 15. Mata Ortiz Pottery, 16. Chicago Field Museum

Maybe this resonated for me because not too long before our trip I had been reading about the building of the Temple in the Old Testament.  And that God saw fit to have artisans and skilled craftspeople working on the Temple.  So on our vacation all of it combined to create in me a sense of value for my artistic leanings.  If you’ve ever listened to Steve Jobs’ commencement speech you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that dots started to become connected.  I don’t think I’m adequately explaining the impact this had on me.  Or how I can connect it to my post about Junior.  And I can connect it to this TED talk by Mike Row. (who by the way I have a secret crush on.)  The mistake we make when we put things in a hierarchy of value.  The mistake we make when we devalue creativity, or someone’s contribution to the world – no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, or the good old-fashioned value of manual/physical labor, or the people behind the scenes making life work or creating designs that make our lives easier and/or add an element of aesthetics.

And now a short lis of current artists/craftspeople who are inspiring me.

  • Jennifer Steen Booher, and her beachcombing series of photographs.
  • Olivia Jeffries organic and understated drawings.
  • Ian Ruhter’s incredible large scale photography. And how he came to determine the value of what he is doing.
  • William Hays’ linocut prints, especially this & this.
  • The papercuttings of Karen Bit Vejle

One Comment Add yours

  1. Patricia says:

    Have you by any chance seen the PBS series, “Craft in America”? http://video.pbs.org/video/2300857107

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