Thursday, May 22, 2008

This month's American Craft Magazine has an essay by Jed Perl in a section called critic's corner. He writes, "The artisanal urge--the fundamental human desire to make something with one's own hands--has never been so endangered as it is right now."

The essay contrasts those who create large scale machine made things passing as art in major museums and selling for millions of dollars with those simple things that bear the imprint of the human hand.

He quotes Bernard Leach from "A Potter's Book,"Beauty will emerge from a fusion of the individual character and culture of the potter with the nature of his materials." Perl goes on to state, "What Leach is emphasizing is the visceral nature of creation, the extent to which the final product can never be separated from the mysterious process of its making.... What fascinates me, reading Leach's account of the making of a pot is how intimately linked the final from is with the act of making."

In essence, we have extracted the hand from the making, and extracted the artist from the making as well. Successful artists are measured in their success by the number of employees they have set in motion producing work that bears no imprint or hint of imprint of human touch, their own or that of others and bears no mark of the human qualities of empathy, compassion, understanding or concern.

As stated by Jed Perls, "Creative spirits, whether painters, or potters, cannot leave a mark on the world if they have not first left a mark on their materials." But don't try to tell that to the museums. They very likely will not understand.

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