I’m almost done with the jacket – another week’s work should do it – so I am naturally thinking about what comes next. Also, I read an excellent blog post by Elizabeth Barton on what a juror looks for, which got me thinking about what I look for in my own work. So I hastily scribbled down some of my own values and styles, so I could set my goals more clearly. Here they are:
- Good workmanship. The piece should be well-made, the best that I can do, technically speaking.
- Focus on quality, not time. It takes as long as it takes; if it takes 1,000 hours and a year to complete, so be it!
- Strong aesthetic. It should be beautiful. (Not necessary for art generally, of course, but is one of my own values.)
- Powerful. It should evoke emotion in the viewer; it shouldn’t be “flat”.
- Well-designed. It should embody good design principles.
- Innovative. It should push the edge of the medium, of my understanding of the medium, or both.
- Artistically free. Choice of media, style, etc. shouldn’t be dictated by trepidations on where I’ll actually be able to show my work; if it’s interesting enough, the venue will appear.
- Technique focused. I like playing with new techniques, and will frequently come up with a piece based on a technique I’m exploring.
- Intellectually challenging. If it’s not a challenge, and/or I’m not learning something, I won’t do it.
- Novelty driven. I don’t like stepping in the same river, or the same tradition, twice.
- Complex. This goes along with “intellectually challenging”; I tend to make my work with layers of complexity, often to a fault.
- Goal driven. It is very difficult for me to let go and just “play”; there has to be a goal associated with it.
- Planned. I work best when I have a plan and can work to the plan; spontaneous creation feels sloppy to me.
What is interesting to me about this is that nowhere in all this list is the $64,000 question of art vs. craft: Does it need to have a meaning??
I thought about this for awhile and decided that the answer is “mu” (Zen for “Unask the question” – roughly translated, the question is constructed improperly, which makes a correct answer impossible.) I have no idea what constitutes “having meaning”. I am not a particularly subtle person – if it isn’t explicitly stated, I tend to miss it. So I am not at all sure why a scarf, for example, is considered not to have meaning, but an abstract painting of a circle and a square would be considered to have “meaning”. If the question is, “Does it have to have an explicit narrative?” the answer is no. But I am not sure what is considered “meaningful” in reference to art. (I’d love your thoughts! so please leave a comment on this post if you think you understand what it means.)
Then I sat down and brainstormed a bunch of things I want to study in 2011:
- Pattern drafting
- Garment construction
- Fabric manipulation
- Surface design techniques
- Differential dyeing (warp cellulose, weft protein)
- Art and art history – to get an idea of what other people are doing and what has been done before
Obviously that is a very long and ambitious list, and I won’t get to do any of them in-depth in just nine months! But I thought about it some more and realized that I don’t do well at studying things in the abstract anyway – instead, the best way for me to study things is to pick projects that require them, and learn as I go.
So here, keeping in mind my values and working style, is my goal for 2011:
- Conceive and sketch out a garment that uses handwoven fabric plus surface design and/or fabric manipulation techniques.
- Draft the pattern for the garment from scratch, work with Sharon on fitting the garment, and construct it using couture methods.
- Garment should be completed in 2011 or early 2012 (preferably, but not necessarily, in time for the Convergence and CNCH Fashion Show).
Is that ambitious? Yes!! But I think it is a good goal, one that will stretch me a lot, creatively speaking. And I’m fairly confident that, with Sharon’s help, I can make it happen.
First step is figuring out what I want to make – so I have ordered a couple of books on couture and art-to-wear, and will spend some time poring over them, for inspiration.