Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why “the bimbo of the arts” is one of my favourite things

Why “the bimbo of the arts” is one of my favourite things

Hey guys, Amy here. If we don’t know one another, I make up one half of the X37 Adventures duo. I currently live in London currently (hence why I haven’t been able to meet up with you lovely people) I am working on my Masters’ Degree in Art and Design History. In my readings for class and essays I have stumbled upon some interesting articles and bits or books that deal with indie craft and craft fairs. And they always seem to talk about community. And while that wasn't the focus of my research I tabbed the passages and kept them on a back burner to read after my essays are finished.

Now let me explain the bimbos quote. When you are writing essays, you come across lots of weird quotes in the research and if you are running on fumes, late at night, they can become really  funny. And craft being describe as a bimbo was one that made me chuckle.  Just so you know, I don’t think craft is a bimbo, the context was in discussing why craft is not seen as legitimate and serious as a form of art. in its relationship with fine art craft, and mostly DIY craft can be seen as a secondary form of art. Now I can (and did) write about why and how craft is more than capable of keep up with and even surpassing its posher cousin, fine art. What I want to write about is the areas that set craft apart from fine art; and that’s community.
Renegade Craft Fair, 2016, London (picture from renegade website) 
When I became active in the craft scene, it was because I was asked by a friend to help run a show, and because of it I have made some amazing friends I never would have found without it.  The craft movement we focused on was also my first introduction to indie arts and crafts. Which was wonderfully described (in the book Extra Ordinary: craft and contemporary art) as focused on hand-crafted and locally produced items that are championed as alternatives to mass produced, globally distributed goods. I love the term championed for describing indie art, it fits so perfectly with what the indie movement aims to create. In Extra Ordinary, there is a paragraph or two about craft fairs and how they are changing "with the rise of the DIY craft movement, a new form of  craft fair has emerged over the past several years in many cities through-out the United States. Examples include the Renegade Craft Fair...; Art vs. Craft...Bazaar Bizarre. While these fairs reflect some characteristics of traditional craft fairs, the difference is the vendors are mainly Gen Xers  who are commercially savvy, art educated, conscious of good design, and who seek to transform what was once considered mere feminine and domestic forms of creativity and decoration into something new. In these fairs, it seems that DIY craft as a subculture has an interest in capitalizing on the subversive allure of hipness in an effort to subvert hegemonic systems of taste and consumption. At DIY craft events, one frequently sense a palatable measure of tastemakers' confidence. These craft practitioners are insiders because they have not only built up social capitol through communal work sessions in craft production but have also embraced their inner geek and built an identity for themselves via the social community that exists on the internet"

In almost every book that dealt with DIY craft or craft fairs the topic of community was brought up as a huge distinction between 'Art' and 'Craft', one thing the community needs (and usually does) to do is support the community and keep raising each other up.

Putting local first

One thing I have learned from the indie arts and craft movement is that local is number one, and while it sometimes defines local a bit loosely, the indie community really tries to build, support and promote the local creators, makers and business. You know, the whole strength in numbers thing, and it takes a village to pull focus from major corporations to small businesses and creators. The interconnected web of the indie movement is so much fun to explore. Next time you have a free day just play local business telephone; start one place and ask them where you should go next, for shopping, or food, drinks, whatever you are looking for I’d confidently place money on a local small business knowing the best places around. (if you play this game, be sure to share with me! I want to see your fun day!).  One of the hardest parts of being in London is having to be far from this community that knows what’s happening, and people who are usually up for some get together. One of my highlights was going to a Renegade Craft Fair in November - it was just like being at any fair in Kansas City. It was great to see that the indie and DIY craft community has the same vibe even when thousands of miles apart.

If you are new to the handmade scene in KC then check out Handmade in KC on Facebook or their website.  All the makers that are part of the group are some of the nicest folks around, and can help you find pretty much anything you're looking for (or make pretty much anything, for that matter).


Blog submitted by Alexis Webb-Bechtold & Amy Folkedahl (a.k.a. the A-Team)

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