Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Monday, May 15, 2006

On the Ethics of Craftsmanship

Lately there has been quite a discussion of craftmanship in particular as it appplies to art quilts. First let me say, I am no great lover of the phrase art quilts...implication that they are all art when some aren't and that quilts labeled otherwise are not art. There isn't a label that makes me sing with delight...fiber art, textile art, non-traditional quilts...pick your favorite. I call myself a quiltmaker. It's good enough for me. However, that is not the issue here. The question at hand is how well made something should be....and to quote an old saw," Anything worth doing is worth doing well."
When we are asking someone to purchase a piece, shouldn't it be comparable to any other discipline? For me the answer is a resounding yes. Painters don't paint badly (well, not intentionally), sculptors don't sculpt badly and on and on. Just my humble opinion but it is my responsibility to myself as an artist to do the best work I possibly can. I am not always successful; no one is and when I am not that work is not shown. Usually I can see early in the process what is working and what isn't so I stop, re-work or start another piece.
If we ever expect to be accepted as equal to the other disciplines, we must rise to the standards of that world. If hanging threads is integral to the piece, then they belong there. If they are just because you didn't want to take the time to cut or thread them back in then they don't belong there.
Bad technique gets in the way of good art and all the beautiful technique in the world won't make up for bad composition and design. There is a balance that must be sought between the two.
In our ever changing world of creative accounting, government and corporate fraud, and product liability, my hope is that art can set a standard for not only aesthetics but also ethics. Art has always led the way to change in the way society sees the world. Let's start today maintaining a high standard of unquestionable craftsmanship and see what tomorrow brings.
Officially off soap box, I remain your over-worked reporter.


Gerrie said...

Amen - I say amen!! Good post.good to have you back - busy woman!

Terry said...

Isn't a beautifully made piece, with all the elements in place just a joy to behold? Of course if the design is bad no amount of careful workmanship will save it, but I agree with you that careful craftsmanship is the professional polish that a good piece must have.

And yeah, "art quilts" "fiber art"--nothing quite works. Fiber sounds too much like breakfast cereal.

cfent said...

well said. as usual.....

Joanne S said...

Bravo! I have seen some embarrasing work under the "art quilt" label. But I've seen the same thing in every type of art: painting, sculpture etc. Just makes the really good stuff more valuable.

kirsty said...

Oh Hallelujah, I'm with you! I'm a QUILTMAKER. Depending on how it's said, everything else can sound pretentious and exclusive - as if one has to reach a certain standard (set by whom??)to belong. I think we are undervalued enough as it is without doing it to each other.

Deb H said...

Applause, with a standing ovation!!
I heartily agree. I remember seeing a small piece once that was stunning in composition, then when I got close, the construction was horrible. It was such a disappointment. I wondered why wouldn't you take the time to make it right? It could've been a wonderful piece, instead it was slap dash sad! & I know this woman knows HOW to do it right. So why didn't she bother?