Aug 30th, 2012
This morning I woke up wondering lots of “WHYs?” Why do/did people agree with the idea of craftivism? Why do people read what I write? Why do people like what I make? Why do I want to share their thoughts and essays in a craftivism anthology?* Why, why, why, and so on. Let be said, even I felt like a beleaguered parent after awhile after my proverbial inner 5 year old just would not stop with all the “Whys.” The cat was little help, the birds that visit the bird feeder outside also didn’t seem to have any pertinent suggestions, although I swear they did eye me more inquisitively this morning than they usually do.
And I think we all ask ourselves questions like these more often than we admit. But, why don’t we admit it? (There I go again, another why question!) After finally getting diagnosed correctly for the first time in over 30 years, it’s like all these questions no longer linger, they instead serve their true purpose, which is to find the real truth behind the matter, instead of making me want to hide underneath the covers all day and eat biscuits.
In re-discovering the wonderful book Art and Fear this morning, I think I have found an answer. All these “whys” (and the proceeding “What works?”) come because you can never truly pinpoint when the moment is that there was connection of your work with others’ hearts, minds, or other parts. Because that moment exists in another place behind now, which is where you’re working as you’re typing, stitching, painting, drawing, quilting. “Why” is for now, “what works” is for later, but they’re both still not present in the moment of creation, where new things are springing from your hands right now. In creation, we drop the “whys” and the “what works” and are left with what is. And once what is is in the hands of others, we can start to question ourselves (and possibly our sanity) again, but that moment of creation, we continue to come back to, because that’s where all the questions stop and we can truly bring ourselves to the present moment.
From Art and Fear:
In following the path of your heart, the chances are that your work will not be understandable to others. At least not immediately, and not to a wide audience. When the author fed his computer the question, “What works?,” a curious pattern emerged: a consistent delay of about five years between the making of any given negative, and the time when prints from that negative began selling. In fact, one now-popular work was first reproduced in a critical review to illustrate how much weaker the then-new work had become. Performing artists face the added, real-time terror of receiving an instant verdict on their work in person- like the conductor being pummeled with a barrage of rotten fruit halfway through the Paris premier of Rites of Spring, or Bob Dylan being hooted off the stage the first time he appeared live with an electric guitar. No wonder artists so often harbor a depressing sense that their work is going downhill: at any given moment the older work is always more attractive, always better understood.
This is not good. After all, wanting to be understood is a basic need- an affirmation of the humanity you share with everyone around you. The risk is fearsome: in making your real work you hand the audience the power to deny the understanding you seek; you hand them the power to say, “you’re not like us; you’re weird; you’re crazy.”
So, I guess, after all, we should just be happy when we find ourselves asking questions like “why” and “what works” because that means we still care enough to be understood, relavent, connected. But, at the same time, we should also be sure that we let those questions go and just create after awhile, too, because they are just the framework that allow us the knowledge that our goal is to connect with others; the work itself is what allows us to actually do so.
*Yes! (And given the quote above, a good thing it takes several years to get these types of things together, no?) After wanting to do so for a long time, I’m finally announcing that a possible craftivism anthology is in the works. I want to share people’s definitions of craftivism along with their craftivist-related projects, especially from countries outside of the US and the UK. Want to share your story? English not your native language? Or worried that “writing just isn’t your thing?” No worries! All that can be fixed. First, I want to hear your idea of what you’d like to write about! Get in touch!