VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Worth of the Work

A nice example of the kind of work Sayers champions can be examined in this article. My favorite line:

These Brooklynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pickles, cheeses and chocolates the way others form bands and artists’ collectives.

It takes work to make this kind of thing happen. And patience. And interest in the thing itself. I'm reminded of Sayers' description of the shareholders of the brewery who don't just want to know about the bottom line but who "want to know what goes into the beer." Such principles of work and patience apply to visual artists and writers, of course, but artists and writers always want to make a mark, to achieve for their work some permanence. What about those who, like these Brooklynites, make something one consumes (in the truest sense) and which, by that consumption, vanishes from the world? There's something lovely in the idea, because it means finding validation in things other than in what is tangible and measurable: community, sustainability, stewardship, the pleasure of process, the worth of the hand-made thing. A show like How It's Made finds its audience in showing us the way what's lying around the house is manufactured. As one writer has pointed out (in an article I can't find), part of the show's mesmerizing appeal is its lack of a human presence. Our stuff - including much of our food - is made mostly by robots on assembly lines. I don't want to paint too broad and unfair a picture, but you don't hear a robot remark about the Fritos it has roasted and bagged, "These are pleasant to the sight and good for food..." Which may be a long way of explaining the appeal Richard Scarry's books have for my children (and me!).

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