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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Two Sides to the Coin

DH and I exhibited at a small outdoor show today - the Atascadero Art & Wine Festival to honor a historic statue that's been restored and reinstalled in the gardens in front of the city hall. You can see more about the statue here.

When I say "small" I really mean it - maybe 10 artist booths, and 5 local winery booths.

The visitors represented both ends of the "they get it" spectrum.

A woman comes to the booth. The first thing she says is "I am an artist. I have a degree from an art school, plus several other degrees." She asks me to tell her about the woven artwork I make. As soon as the words "computer" and "digital" come out of my mouth, she says "If there's a computer involved, it's not original and can't be considered true art." We debate that back and forth for a while, and she admits she doesn't own (and never has owned) a computer. I try to politely tell her that perhaps she hasn't enough information/education/experience with computers to make such a broad statement about their place in the art world. "It's only a tool, just like a paint brush (but with a much better memory!)" I say. Her response is "But if you take the computer out of your process, you'll be able to call your work original!"  Nobody's gonna win this debate... She's got an entrenched notion, and I admit I've got one too, just as strongly entrenched but in the opposite direction. 

Later, a gentleman comes into the booth, and asks about the work. He says "I'm a photographer, and I love seeing what you've done with this family photo!" (It was one of my Woven Portraits series.) I asked him if he uses Photoshop, and he said "Of course!" So I described the process I use to get from a digital image to a weaving, and his response is "Wow! How cool! Can you weave a family photo for me?" And he admired the other pieces as well, complimenting me on composition, color choices, subject matter, etc. "Your artwork is really beautiful and original" he says.

After the "artist" gave me hell for using a computer, I was thrilled (and relieved) to meet someone who understands that an artist's toolbox can indeed include computers and still make "art."

6 comments:

Pat said...

A real cross-section as you say. I use Photoshop a lot to create artwork but it's my ideas which go into the work, not the computer's. And that goes for you too. I am glad you had at least one positive experience.

Pat Foster

neki desu said...

bless him! in the end you got a stimulating visitor as a prize for your polite patience.

Alice said...

What is it about _tool_ that they don't understand? A broad spectrum indeed.

Sandra Rude said...

Not only is she a complete Luddite, she picked apart my woven logo ("Did Georgia O'Keeffe sign her work 'GO'?"), my yarn choices ("Oh, my dear, you need more texture, not a smooth surface! Use bigger, rougher yarn."), and just about everything else... In fact, she followed me around the booth arguing even while I tried to chat up other customers. Oh well, it was an Art & Wine Festival, and she had spent at least as much time at the winery booths as at mine. A tipsy Luddite!

Cally said...

A local weaver who uses a table loom was recently given a hard time at open studios because he didn't have a 'proper' loom like a Hattersley! You can't win against the preconceptions of the single-minded...

MegWeaves said...

Half of me is giggling as I recall the "can one weave a handwoven cloth on a computer-controlled loom?" debate of the mid-90's; half of me is pondering this familiar point because I often wonder when I'm being used by my machines vs. me using it. My TIC answer to myself is, as long as I don't have fly shuttles, it's handweaving, though that's not a proper answer...