(first thoughts towards some sort of craft essay…)

As I am sure most ‘conceptual’ crafts-based artists do, I am prone, in fact love to think of my craft as physical metaphor for the intent behind my artwork. Please excuse me if this seems naive, but I am attempting to start from my basic foundations. You see, weaving as a metaphor can get rather Enlightenment-y, this kind of empirical, rational structure of base-thread (warp) upon which a very teleological succession of additional material (weft) is supported, towards a flat, functional ‘rug’ of thought. In fact Plato was using weaving to represent just this kind of order in society thousands of years ago. But now it is the future, you know, so one might wish to abandon my serenely geometrical metaphor.
But fortunately, actually working with the materials (which Plato, I assumed, did not–I think he was contemplating the work of his slaves) increases the metaphorical richness of the act a thousand-fold! Here is one: Threads are prone to tangle. They are chaotic, when a bundle of thread lies there, waiting to be put through the loom, the strands form a mass, affiliating with fibers across the whole, often combining into a messy clump. This is how my thoughts have been in the past years since committing to my art practice, hundreds of different sources and theories, actions and channels of communication connected in all manner of ways! At certain nexuses (nexi?) a dozen of these threads will gather and form some random coherence, at a lecture (my own or one I attend, on occasion) or a, exhibit, or in a park. Now back to the physical metaphor, the tangle. When faced with that situation in a classroom setting, I will say to the frustrated student, ‘Relax, it is in the string’s nature to combine with its fellow strands, and though it does so now in a chaotic fashion, when you have mastered the weaving arts you will harness the string’s tendencies and manipulate them to form a cohesive structure of your choice.’ And then I pluck a fly, still living, from the air with chopsticks, and release it unharmed. jk. But you see, there is more chaos and polyphony to be expressed through threads than order. If you delve into the history of that great invention, string, there are infinite voices and uses, from record-keeping and major infrastructure, to your own pants; innovations by groups and individuals guided by local custom and global pressures as well, just the situation we each find ourselves in in this era.
But what about that tangle? it may be beautiful, soft, but it does me no good. It is time to straighten it out, put a little tension on it and organize those threads, make a pattern that is discernible to the outside world. With the real threads I have had an easy time of it. This is the beginning of my attempt to deal with the metaphorical ones.
(more at will… comments appreciated)

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One Response to “(first thoughts towards some sort of craft essay…)”

  1. Elina Says:

    this makes a lot of sense to me and i enjoyed reading it.

    “But what about that tangle? it may be beautiful, soft, but it does me no good.”

    I love this thought. I feel like I’ve been in a stage in my life/work where I’ve very much enjoyed looking at these tangles and even endorsed them. past days i’ve been taking walks and thinking a lot about necessity and structure and what is possible versus what is necessary and willing and able to communicate.

    i will come and visit the weaving work shop tomorrow!

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