Saturday, April 12, 2008

Navel Gazing

I usually hate just typing a big block of text, but there has been no progress on anything fibery and all the other things I have done this week, while fascinating, are not necessarily visually interesting. Plus, I don't carry my camera with me a lot...

The vast majority of my time these days is being consumed by rehearsals, which are alternately agonizing and elating, depending upon what is being worked on and whether or not my head is up my butt. I think that I am coming along nicely--I know I have gotten over my issues with playing men, though our brief foray last night into breast binding ended in hilarity. I believe we may need much wider bandages--these gals are not going to lay down for nobody! The designer and the costume mistress are working on it...I'll keep you posted.

I also took a wee road trip to Olds this past week. I went to my alma mater, Olds College, to take an Instructor Skills Workshop. (I typed "instructor kills workshop" the first time around, which is a whole other concept!) This workshop is being offered to all of the Master Spinners graduates who wish to become instructors, as well as all of the instructors who are already in place, in order to level out the quality of instruction throughout that program. There have been issues in the past and this is another step to raise and/or maintain the quality and consistency of the program.

We learned about learning styles and presentation styles, and it turns out I'm not too bad at the old teaching thing. Apparently, I'm just bad at the getting my name out there thing. In fact, I just had my seminars at the next HWSDA conference cancelled. However, I am not alone there...enrollment for the whole conference is sadly waaay down. But the upside is that I will now be home for the Odd-Lot Puppetry send-off and Mother's Day. Anyway, if you are looking for a spinning instructor, drop me a line...or check out Gibson's Landing Fibre Arts Festival's website. I am offering a workshop in color theory for handspinners out there in August.

So, with all the free time I have, I have been doing a little navel gazing. The ages old debate of art vs. craft has been drifting through the blogs and conversations I have stumbled across lately. The ideas of community theatre vs. professional theatre have been bandied about in my presence. The whole validity of "The Arts" seems to be the topic of great debate in things I am reading. And if one more freaking person says to me "Oh, I'd love to do that, but I'm not very creative", I am going to put someone's eye out with my knitting needles.

If you make a thing, you are a creator. Do you have to design it, invent a new form or a new application of a medium, to be creative? No, that is innovation, which is a different thing. Creativity is found in all aspects of our lives, not just our "art". We can be creative in our cooking, our gardening, our child-rearing, our home decorating, our maintenance of our automobiles, our relationships, our style of dress.......the list is endless. We can make choices to assemble ideas, materials, and skills to make a thing our own, and most of us do it on a daily basis without even knowing it.

You can knit a sweater using a pattern from any one of the popular knitting magazines using the yarn called for in the pattern and think you are not a creative knitter. But you are making a thing. And your own style of knitting, your tension, your method of casting on or throwing will all change the end result. You will be making a unique garment, because it was made with your hands, and no one else's. Anyone can go to The Gap or Wal-mart and buy a sweater, but no one but you can make the one you handknit.

Then there are those who say knitting is not an art form, or particularly creative, because anyone can do it with a very small investment in simple tools. "Oh, my Grannie did that" does not mean that it is not a valid creative expression. Grandma Moses was a grannie! And those guys who painted the caves at Lascaux--I'm pretty sure they didn't have airbrushes and daylight-corrected lighting, but their work is considered the height of prehistoric "art". So get over your grannie issues and hug a knitter, you never know when you might score a pair of snuggly socks for your efforts!

There was once a day and age when all of the activities we call "art" were practiced by everyone. Even the Sistine Chapel was painted by a contractor. People spun and wove and threw pots and painted their churches and built furniture for purely practical reasons. There were no great truths revealed in these labors, but the world was a more beautiful place, and each and every person could point to something and say "I made that".

The capital-A arts have created a barrier between people and art. And to what end? Fewer and fewer people feel confident in exploring their own creative expression, because they do not have an artist's statement to explain their motive for making something. Ordinary people won't go to the opera, which was originally created as entertainment for the masses. Local musicians play in their own kitchens because nobody wants to listen to a gifted guitarist who drives a truck during the day to support his family. And spinners, knitters and weavers beat each other over the head with the labels "art" and "craft", all the while wasting perfectly good spinning time!

I think we should all go back to making the things we want to make and being happy in the making. Let's leave the labels and categories for people with idle hands. Go create!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:28 AM

    Well said!
    As for the spinning lessons, I'm definitely interested and I bet that there are a few in our local knitting group who would be as well.
    We missed you yesterday