Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Future of Craft

Recently, Laura Fry discussed some thoughts on the future of craft (and craft shows) on her blog. I've had similar discussion with fellow artists recently, as well as with the ACC management, visitors to my booth at shows, and visitors to the studio during the Open Studios event.

Several visitors to the booth, or the studio, had interesting input from an education point of view. We all bemoan the loss of arts/crafts education in the public school system. One gentleman, who is a teacher in a private school, says that his institution still has a major emphasis on the arts, and particularly on making "things." However, he agreed with me that there are way too many kids nowadays who simply don't know that it's possible to make stuff from scratch, with your own hands.

The ACC has an exhibitor category called "Alt Craft" which in some cases is just artists who want to take advantage of the lower booth fee for this category, and in others is really folks who have figured out ways to make stuff that somebody might want to buy. The stuff the latter folks make is usually of a somewhat lower quality level but a higher imagination and originality level than the artists who exhibit in the normal exhibitor categories. Most of the Alt Craft artists are significantly younger then me (but then, who isn't?) which says that some young people have indeed figured out that it is possible to make things by hand.

But what of the average kids in the public school system? Most of them don't even know you can make meals from scratch - those all come from a box in the freezer! Most of them don't know you can make your own clothing: what's an iron? what's a sewing machine? where does cloth come from? Or stuff to decorate your room/space/home.

One of the young boys who came during Open Studios and oooh'ed and aaaah'ed while watching DH turn a bowl from a chunk of wood on the lathe, went home and told his mom he wanted to learn to do that too. His mom called DH and they've agreed that he is old enough to take some lessons. So the concept of making stuff still acts as a magnet for some kids. How do we get that into the rest of that generation?

This conundrum is one reason I support the Americans for the Arts Action Fund. Their purpose is to poke and prod and nag our legislators to remind tham how important it is to human development to realize you can make stuff from scratch by hand. To promote the arts in the educational system. To promote the arts at the local and state level.

By "arts," I mean "arts and crafts," including things like the trades, for which there used to be training at the high-school level. Hardly any schools any more have programs in wood shop, or auto shop, or home economics. Or drama, art, and music.

Okay, end of rant. Support the arts, dammit!


Connie Rose said...

Good post, Sandra. Thanks!

neki desu said...

no homec anymore??OMG.
in a country where only the very affluent can afford service how will they manage?
great post.