Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The mindfulness of crafted objects

We have become cogs in a machine whirring beyond our consciousness and control, but, what if we wanted to live our lives more fully conscious and awakened to mystery and wonder at the interconnections we have with nature and with each other?

What would be the nature of the objects that framed that experience? When we picked up a cup to drink, would it be one made through caring investment of human attention, or thoughtlessly and mindlessly cranked out by a machine in a foreign land and delivered through a complex and environmentally destructive mechanism to the local Target Store?

 Is consciousness something that just happens to us haphazard and regardless, or are there choices we make that affect the depth and quality of our experience? In the US, this rule seems to apply to crafts: the less useful the object, the greater its value... as though crafts, like art are to be placed on shelves and on walls and seen but not felt. And yet it is through the touch and use of an object that its full depth of meaning and relationship is revealed.

In today's world, the deep feelings and sensitivities of the craft maker are kept at arms length. Worse, they are extinguished on the altar of ever-greater efficiency that we call progress. Progress for the individual maker is different from what we call progress in the larger scheme of things. For the individual maker progress can be best defined as the process of discovering a successful place in community through which personal and familial needs can be met. Progress in the larger scheme of things rarely takes the individual into consideration. It involves markets and banks, whereas the progress for an individual maker demands the growth of skill.

So we get to choose. The choice involves the quality of our own lives and the quality of the communities in which we live.

Make, fix, and create. Plan for others to learn likewise.

1 comment:

  1. In craft there is an essential subject-object relationship whereby the spirit of the maker is invested in the product. The work of art represents the artist. It carries and transmits the personhood of the maker...the eye and hand, the intelligence and experience. As a living symbol, it is as unique and precious as the individual person who created it. Does it follow that the more we respect the fundamental dignity of people, the more we will come to value the wisdom of their hands?