Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stuck in the Middle

As a studio jeweler born well after the last of the baby boomers, I often feel like an artist out of place. I feel an affinity for the craft movement that their generation -- and even the generation before it -- created. Yet my career trajectory is happening in a different time and place. I cannot expect to have the same path they did. The structure that supported their work is well past its heyday.

In my own generation, there is a new wave of craft whose goals and means seem fundamentally different from mine. They seem to be after a granny's church craft fair with a twist aesthetic.

The work of this new wave craft movement seems to embrace amateurism and an outsider artist ethos. However, it is not true outsider art. So much of it is derivative work. Irony trumps craftsmanship. Wouldn't be so much more subversive to be a master of a difficult medium, leaving the viewer startled by the convergence of mastery and message?

Some examples:
Jan Yager
Richard Notkin
Keith Lewis

I have a hard time relating to the new wave crafters; in fact, I don't even know what to talk about when I meet them in person since I really don't have an inclination to make cute things with skulls on them in the name of being subversive.

Where does this leave someone in their 20s or 30s seeking to become a master of their medium first and foremost? (I am not promoting a message with my work at present, but who is to say that it won't happen as time goes on?)

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