The Smithsonian Craft Show is April 26 -29 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. We asked all of our League members who are participating in this year’s show to respond to this prompt:
In a world where many are attached to technology 24/7, and ordering online in the middle of the night is the norm for many people – why is fine hand craft important? And why should people go to craft shows to purchase craftsmen work?
Kathleen Dustin’s response:
In our busy lives where everything seems to be done vicariously on our devices, it is ever more important to have a relationship with the people and things around us. We go to museums to see the things humankind has made throughout millennia. Humans engage and express ourselves through the things we make, and what better way to do that than through going to a fine craft show and purchasing something handmade by a master craftsman. We then continue daily to engage with this finely handmade thing and express ourselves through it.
I make purses and will be exhibiting them for sale at the Smithsonian Craft Show. A purse is personal: you engage with it. Every time you open your handbag to pull out your lipstick or phone, your life is enhanced by this exquisite, finely crafted container. Plus, it shows others what a marvelous person you are.
Molly Grant’s response:
Many people enjoy making crafts, but not all people can make crafts to the high standard that is acceptable to Smithsonian craft patrons…
Being a Smithsonian artist is an honor….something I dreamed of decades ago before working with Master Cordwainer Paul Mathews. Now, because of his dedication to craft and quality and teaching me his skills, this has enabled me to reach for more…
Discovering, holding, visually taking in the beauty of something that is made by hand, is a joy to behold.
Blair LaBella’s response:
We live in interesting times with so many options available from all over the world. It really is quite amazing and impressive that you can find absolutely anything that you are looking for with the click of a button. It seems the latest rage always gets top attention, but when the dust settles, there are two types of purchases, those that are easily done on line, the mass produced functional and impersonal objects where you know exactly what you are getting. The other, the more one of a kind or small batch made purchases that are meant to be experienced in person. Having the up close and tactile interaction of handmade objects along with meeting the makers is a completely different and personal experience. Pick the piece up, turn it over, take in the details that aren’t so obvious with on line shopping. We have moved towards a more “experience based” place in time. Going to craft fairs, seeing and touching the work in person and having conversations with such a wide variety of craftspeople is an experience in itself. I am more likely to make a purchase from someone that I have made a positive connection with, which in turn also gives the piece more meaning for me. Being able to look at handmade objects and compare the quality and uniqueness of the pieces is something done only in person. We live in a time where everything moves so fast that we look for experiences to slow things down. Hand made is one way to accomplish that. What you see is what you get and we the craftspeople are there to stand with our work, one person and one object at a time. Online sales for craftspeople can be a huge benefit to one’s business, but having the in-person initial introduction solidifies a meaningful connection.
Hideaki Miyamura’s response:
Especially in the digital age, where our focus is often on our screens and our possessions are often disposable, we are nourished by things that are beautiful, special, and tactile. I want each object I make to feel in balance with its environment and stand in harmony with what is around it. This is in contrast to the digital experience, which can be isolating. A close relationship is formed between me, the maker, and the person who decides to buy and live with one of my works.
Irina Okula’s response:
In a digital world of instant gratification, how does a traditional craft compete? I do ceramics because I feel a need to express and create. It is relaxing and challenging and it gets me up in the morning and excited about working. I love to make things for people to use knowing that my work becomes part of their lives. There is something magical about handmade work because it reveals the spirit of the artist. Part of me goes into my work. Each work is one of a kind and sometimes a piece of art, which I am always striving for.
It is important for people to come to the fair so they can support the artist and be able to meet the artist. It gives the people an opportunity to talk to the artist about their work. Because the work is handmade, the customer can pick it up, touch and be able to feel the piece. Art is what makes us human and reveals much about us as a people and a culture. These human experiences cannot be found by ordering a mug on eBay, or simply visiting an artist’s web page.
For more details about this year’s Smithsonian Craft Show, visit smithsoniancraftshow.org. Look for more information on the League’s upcoming 85th Annual Craftsmen’s Fair in our next E-News!