Saturday, 7 November 2015

manitoba craft council

i really, really, really love our craft council here in manitoba. i've managed to wiggle my way into it in a variety of ways, but the funny thing is that i still don't totally feel like i belong in the inner circle. probably because i'm surrounded by artists who have been honing their craft (literally) for a couple of decades rather than the few years i've been seriously at it. but everyone is so welcoming, and nerdy in the most fantastic ways, that it's hard to not fall in love with everything they do.

craft is often at the bottom rung of the art world. i know that that's a huge over-generalization, but hear me out. we are often talking handed-down knowledge rather than academic study; often more female and/or queer makers than male; functional items rather than purely aesthetic; in other words, pieces of art that are in everyday use, which for whatever reason has qualified them as "lesser than." think about it (and we are talking about capitalist society here), what sells for more money: a rug, or a wall tapestry? if you took the exact same item and laid it on the floor rather than hanging it on the wall, the "value" immediately depreciates. it doesn't matter how much time, effort, expertise, and materials have gone into the item - the mere location of it in a room can shave its value, at least in the eyes of a capitalist, to tatters.

i cannot tell you how incredibly frustrating this is as a crafter. yes, we make things so our hearts and souls feel fulfilled. yes, we relish in the beauty of the everyday item. yes, there are very few things that i consider as satisfying as a finished project which i have poured my heart and brain and creaky joints into and which i then get to wear day in and day out. and those things are worth so much more than the monetary compensation and social recognition in so many ways. but also, i don't get to live in an idealistic bubble. i have to pay my bills. i have to eat. i have to buy the materials for my craft, in one way or another. and so, while my happy heart is worth more than almost anything else, my mental wellbeing that is dependent on not constantly worrying about being evicted is a pretty major competitor for the "worthiness" race. 

this is where mcc comes in. they advocate for craft artisans. they collaborate with other organizations to expand the reach of local crafters, and they help coordinate events to push craft more into the spotlight and into the realm that fine art already inhabits. they support us so that we can play with the boundaries and push works into more multidisciplinary and experimental grounds. they showcase us to the public, and advocate for us to funding bodies. in short, they are some of our greatest cheerleaders. they also tend to be crafters themselves.

i'm stoked to have my first real exhibition at their office in december as part of the first fridays program. you can find some of my work in their online gallery here. and this weekend, they're having their big crafted show and sale at the winnipeg art gallery. i went yesterday after work, and had an absolute blast! i saw oodles of wonderful people, and got hijacked by my favourite little monkey, who also hijacked my shawl for a while. that kid has great taste when it comes to wool. crafters in the making, folks.

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