Monday, September 11, 2006

Are You An Artist?

This past Saturday, I joined some sewing friends on a tour to The Fabric Workshop.

According to the tour guide, and their website, "The Fabric Workshop and Museum is the only museum in the United States creating and exhibiting new work in fabric and experimental materials in collaboration with emerging and established international artists. "

Our tour guide explained that all artists affilitated with The Fabric Workshop are invited to participate in their work. The artists are invited to explore their oeuvre through a new-to-them medium, sometimes, but not always, fabric.

During our tour, one of the artists at The Fabric Workshop stopped what she was doing , and asked our group of five people a simple question: "Are any of you artists?".

I stepped forward, wanting to say, "Of course! I'm an artist. My life is art. Every day is inspiration. My work is my art. My work is many things. What I'm paid to do. What I do for love. Sometimes, at my most inspired, and at my most blessed and high moments, these things intersect".

Did I say this? No. Because to this woman, my humble life, my daytime money-making job, my part time fashion sewing, my humble work, could never constitute "ART". Because to her, "Art" is pure. "Art" is elevated. I am not pure, nor am I elevated.

Being an "artist" to her, means declaring "Artist" as your profession on your end of year tax form.

Had I stepped forward, the woman at theTextile Workshop wouldn't have understood.

So what is an "artist"?


Mary Beth said...

Barbara, I have been thinking the same thoughts. I'm so glad you wrote this and that I finally found your blog. I have also been thinking that I do have to claim and own my artist self. I'm so hesitate to say it because I don't draw well. But art is not circumscribed by drawing talent, is it. Good luck with your thoughts about this topic.

cmarie12 said...

Ah Barbara ~ there is the quandry...because we both know that what you do is art...part of an artform! And even though you have a day job it doesn't mean that you aren't an artist. But I probably wouldn't have stepped forward or answered that question in a positive way either knowing that the person who asked the question probably wouldn't have understood or belittled my answer. But to me, you are an artist!

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara - for me, an artist is someone who is creative rather than destructive. The thing created should have meaning and should be pleasing to the senses. I have never really stopped to consider this before but as you suggest(and i agree) ultimately we are ALL artists in every area of our lives and we are all at some point on the continuum regardless of whether we are a pure artist or not . But being an artist requires self discipline.

Love your creations on your site BTW