Friday, March 28, 2008

Margaux Lange, Whimsy and brains

I am a big fan of Margaux Lange's work. She uses traditional metalsmithing techniques, with new materials to create fresh and vibrant jewelry with Barbie doll parts as the focal point. I found Margaux's work shortly after a neighbor's outrage over what her daughter and my daughter's had done to Barbie dolls. Let's just say, it started with haircuts. This was the perfect antidote to my neighbor's outrage at the plastic surgery that had taken place. What Margaus is doing with Barbie, is artistry. But, it also has the whimsy appropriate to the material.

Margaux has a blog that I visit from time to time, and I just caught up this morning. She has a terrific post on the New Wave artists at ACC. We had some discussion of these artists at the Synergy conference occurring upstairs, excited by the possibilities this represented for new media such as polymer clay. But I for one, was not aware of how much controversy and confusion the presense of these artists was generating on the floor, among both the new and the established artists.

I think it is instructive of the turmoil of transistion. And if you think that the craft business is not in transistion, think again. As I posted last night, things are in motion, and if you don't move along with it, you will be left behind.

Artists like Margaux are embracing, and making sites like Etsy work. She references an indie retail show that was a complete bust for her. In all of this she is not sure where she fits as a craft artist at times. But, frankly, I think many of us feel that way these days. How much of the new do we want to try out? And how much of the traditional ways of being in business work just fine?

I don't think there is any one answer. I do think we have to continual monitor, measure and experiment. Trying out the new, and checking in regularly to see of the old is still working as well as it used to. Promoters and galleries are in a similar position. If they keep doing what they did ten years ago, they will find themselves in a fight for survival.

And we need communication. Without it there is distrust and animosity. That is clear from Margaux's post. It will not be resolved quickly and easily, but a peace will be reached eventually, most likely from a cross-pollination of the old and new.

I hear people sometimes speak dismissively of Etsy as a place where there is too many artists with low price and poor workmanship. That is there. But there is also work that is beautifully crafted, and not the least bit inexpensive. It hasn't been an outlet that works for me, but I have found success with, a site that is has it's share of derision. Both sites require more time and money spent than just putting items up on a page to make them work to best advantage. But both offer ways to maximize the chance to succeed. Showcases and Treasuries on Etsy. Featured items and co-op ads with

It is up to us to try and keep from feeling personally threatened by all the change that is going on around us. Change represents energy, and energy is what craft needs to stay alive and vital. When you feel yourself dismissing or criticizing some new faction in the world of craft, stop and ask yourself a few questions.

"Why is it bad?"

"How much do you really know about it?"

"Is there anyone involved whose work you respect?"

"What are they finding that you have not seen?"

The more conflict there is in the transistion, from either direction, the longer and more painful it will be. The more open exchange there is, the more chance there is for growth by all parties.

Things will always change. Are you open to change?

No comments: