Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Interesting Conversation

So there has been a HUGE conversation going on ever since the SNAG conference about the new generation of makers and the state of the established craft field. Annie Chau, of Imogene, started the conversation and most of it has occurred on Annie's blog. The editor of American Craft magazine has posted a number of times and for a while Annie's blog was on the American Craft website. (Go Annie!) There was a great dialogue with many big hitters in the field posting. The same big hitters who are brand new to the blogosphere. The blog-thing is isnteresting...this is just another example.

Check it out the conversation--this affects you.

On a related note....This kind of conversation doesn't happen in Europe, at least not in the same way it does here. And the design thinking and objects coming out of Europe right now are very fresh and new (see a number of entries here).......What is the difference? Is American loosing its edge?

1 comment:

meganp said...

I have a long post, but this conversation has been on my mind for a while. So, I have a few thoughts:

After reading his whole speech, I find it interesting that Bruce Metcalf brought up "Ready Made Magazine" in his presentation, and how this 'under-35' generation's asthetic is basically kitsch. As a subscriber to this magazine, I would disagree. This specific magazine is designed for DIYers who want to make things with readily available materials, no matter what their crafting or construction background may be. This magazine is also designed for people who want to incorporate recycled materials into their furniture, jewelry, etc. This demographic cannot be the only demographic mainstream crafters want, or can hope to get as customers. OR, if it is, the mainstream ACC crowd must be very afraid of people learning how to "craft" without any formal education, thus putting them out of business.

My second thought only relates in a very tangential way. The music world feels threatened by the under-35 crowd, too. For example, the Opera and the Symphony are dying, with most of the members in the audience being senior citizens, mostly of wealthier means. Opera companies try to shake things up with resetting an established opera in a new era. Symphonies have a pop series, with more contemporary music. This really doesn't get more young people into the seats. The music world loves it when a good looking wunderkind comes in; that usually helps sales. But that just puts a band-aid on a deeper problem.

The seats at the venues I have been to are almost never filled completely, and the established music world wants to know what will bring the younger generation into their concert halls. Here's why I don't go anymore: the price is too high, especially when I can listen a wonderful recording, digitally remastered, of the same composition in my car. I also don't go because the atmosphere is stuffy and old and because we don't hear new and exciting compositions. AND 2.5 to 3hours is a long time. One begins to wonder if the Opera and the Symphony are becoming a relic in our modern age.

So what does this have to do with craft? I think the same problem that exists in other fine art venues exists at the ACC, too. Are sales so slow at the regular ACC booths that those running them have to wonder about the success of the younger indie crafters? There should be room for everyone.

Personally, I like the indie craft fairs over the ACC because the atmosphere is relaxed, there is a wide range of goods I can buy for a little money, or a lot of money, and they are kid friendly. To be perfectly frank, the ACC show is none of these.

I appreciate the level of craftsmanship it takes to create intricate and ornate pieces, and clearly the established crafters have these skills. But perhaps Bruce Metcalf should look beyond the "kitsch" asthetic he projects onto the under 35 generation, and more into the "content" that these indie crafters create with their pieces. I see the craft mafias democratizing craft and making it accessible for a larger audience. If the ACC wants to keep up with this movement, it has an obligation to evolve with the up-coming generation, especially if it wants them to buy booth space for their future shows.