Confession. My home page is not -- exactly -- an art related site. But, on www.boingboing.net I always find something that stirs my artist's interest.
Today, it was a post that linked to an article in "The New Atlantis" an online magazine, where essayist Matthew B. Crawford explores the state of manual competence. After my last post, driven by the frustration of my own manual incompetence at a particular task, I found the synchronicity compelling and the writer's words a good reminder of why I call myself a "maker."
The term is more often used by artists and artisans in Great Britain, and I like its leveling of all the distinctions that drive me into drivel. Am I arts or crafts? Is my work Art with a capitol or damnably artsy? Is this work fine craft, fine art, product or object? A recent discussion on a very large online listserve centered on whether the Gee's Bend quiltmakers were artists or not drove me off the list after only a week of lurking.
Anyway, Crawford, who is exploring the educational trend away from vocational classes, has this to say near the beginning of his article:
"A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world: more passive and more dependent. And indeed, there are fewer occasions for the kind of spiritedness that is called forth when we take things in hand for ourselves, whether to fix them or to make them. What ordinary people once made, they buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves installing a pre-made replacement part.
"So perhaps the time is ripe for reconsideration of an ideal that has fallen out of favor: manual competence, and the stance it entails toward the built, material world."