Friday, June 20, 2014

a treatise on what is art and a makers fair, part I.

Upon re-reading The Moviegoer ,  I began to think of authenticity and meaning and how I ascribe meaning and value in my own life, mostly through symbolism and sentiment. Ever in character, I made a list.

1. Value from Age.
Philip K. Dick makes an excellent commentary (among others) on this in Man in the High Castle. Similar cases can be brought forth by looking at the vintage craze it seems everyone is participating in, myself included. There is a certain argument made that the reason vintage is so desirable is because the quality is better and the items are more accessible, monetarily, within my own demographic. (I have a vintage Vitamix, vintage stone wheat grinder (with nitro-packed wheat from the mid-70s!), vintage plaid picnic basket, and two matching vintage red Raleigh bikes thanks to my dad who purchased them new in the 70s and kept most of these things in pristine shape all this time because he never used them. I can use them because of his purchasing power in an earlier time and perhaps because the quality is such that it is still usable forty years later.) These are the items you can find in second-hand stores that still work.

Another connection I like to make with older things is their representation of history and another time. I feel this way about liturgy as well¹. In a liturgical service, I appreciate how many others who profess a similar faith as I do are saying the same words in a myriad other places, words that people have said with the same intention for hundreds of years. There is a sense of place in humanity in that, one among many, like among like. It's a good feeling, belonging. I like feeling the sense that I am another owner among a line of owners of a vintage piece, a piece whose form and function continue to please and serve a purpose in a life. And yet, the connection solely from ownership is tenuous.

2. Value from Beauty.
I am often guilty of choosing form over function. I have little to say about this, which is in itself telling. Beauty is a highly desirable quality, and often superficial. It may provide value, but little meaning past the initial shot of mutable pleasure.

3. Value from Sentiment.
The greatest value often derives from sentiment or relationships. I've related before James's opinion on this before-- that an object must act as a memento of some significant experience or someone.

For myself, I use the rolling pin my great-grandfather carved, my grandmother's pressed glass sugar bowl, hand-stitched quilts made from my mother's and aunt's childhood clothes, and I display the little clay box made by my nephew. These things remind me of my family and give me a touchstone in time so that I know where I stand in the line of my heritage. They help me tell my story.

It's something of a hat trick, then, if I can incorporate these different kinds of value into the things that I make. Most importantly, I endeavor to tell a story through my art, using mixed media imbued with meaning instead of the words you read here. And that's what I attempted when I participated in the Texas Ave. Makers Fair in April.

To be continued...

¹I've been going to Episcopal churches for the past three years. They follow some variation of the Holy Eucharist Rites found in the Book of Common Prayer.
*All photos taken around Texas Ave., Shreveport, LA

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