Saturday, January 12, 2008

In reference to the earlier post having to do with Yanagi's Unknown Craftsman and the responsibility of the artist in the restoration of culture, we need to investigate the reasons for our cultural degradation and why it would be the artist who bears such a burden. Of course it is OK if an artist or craftsman chooses to simply fit the existing culture, strive for the common goals of fame, glory and financial success. But there are factors of our cultural degradation that the artist is uniquely positioned to address. The integral creative relationship between the head, hands and heart is the foundation of all culture. The separation of people into social classes based on the distinctions made between the work of the head and the work of the hands is the source of our human degradation. By nature, the artist is that individual best positioned to restore a greater vision of human purpose, and to do so, he or she must adopt a greater vision and purpose for his or her own work than the more common personal goals of fame, glory and financial success. When artists and craftsmen understand their restorative potential and when schools across America invite their involvement we will see some important changes made in education.

Of course there are those who might disagree on the state of our culture. We have television and the internet, right? We have iPods, right? And very cheap stuff, right?

Please forgive my sarcasm, and pass the Prozac.

On a positive note, I ran into a friend Mark Rademacher at the grocery store. He is looking forward to teaching another week long class this summer at ESSA . Last summer's class was Mark's first time as a teacher, he loved it and his class was a tremendous success. Mark is one of Arkansas foremost artists, working in both clay and wood. Photos of his interesting and beautiful pots are shown above. Mark's pottery is sawdust fired and decorated with patterns from real leaves from the Arkansas forest. He was actively discouraged by his very successful father from becoming a craftsman so he is a self-professed "late bloomer." Can you imagine a time in which each man or woman's life might be filled with creative expression? I can. Those were the times that Yanagi described in the Unknown Craftsman.

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