Sunday, April 25, 2010

sleep and art

i wish i could sleep like tess and gwen. last night, i did, with close to ten hours in bed, reading a little, and sleeping. this is what infections do to me, or maybe it's the antibiotic. this year i seem to be in a battle against microbes...
i am a weaver. at least, that is my background, but these days i think of myself as a papermaker/book artist. i go back to weaver because there's a long connection, back to my mother, elva weaver, her father, john weaver... you see where this is going? west virginia. mountain people are intelligent problem solvers, used to eeking out a livelihood on a scrap of mountainside land. my mom could keep cars going, make a dress without a pattern, cook a meal for one or thirty, clean a cruddy floor so it would shine. with a kid on her hip. 

i once saw a book about families and their stuff. each family was photographed outside their home, with all the people and possessions outside in front of the house. western households had lots of toys, places more marginal had their foodstuffs displayed.

so what use or worth is what i make? i know i'm not good at weaving functional stuff, i tried it. i often make stacks and stacks of botanical or rag paper, but they are rather expensive (in every sense). the artists' books that capture my imagination nowadays are one of a kind or small editions. is it worth it? is art worth it? 


martha said...

I think that is a good question, especially in the context of art for arts sake. People often ask me if I sell my art and are surprised when I do not. Since I see art as a connection to a more universal source, I rarely put a price on it. It is other than or beyond tangible and may be the only truly valuable thing that I do.
when you start to make art for only money it is just another job. i already have one of those.

Velma said...

ahh, but martha, art for art's sake is art nonetheless. and doesn't any maker deserve a living wage?

Chris Gray said...

It would be so nice to strike a balance with art and money. However, speaking purely for myself here....I'd rather have my art/creative life without money than the other way around.

I get so much pleasure from creating...more than money could buy.

Dianne said...

It is absolutely worth it! Whether you sell it or not...Whether it is expensive or not... After all, it is something that we (most of us at least) must do... and while money is necessary, isn't art also necessary? For me it is...

Velma said...

yep, i think art is necessary. and i think art should be affordable. and i think artists should make a living wage. chris, could you have your art/life without money? what about buying a pair of boots to wear to work in the garden to grow your food?

mjc said...

Now that I have no day job, I've been pondering this (to some extent) as well. I agree with Dianne that it is absolutely essential to me to make what I make. In the past, I made my living helping others to find and hone what they want to make and to say, and by passing on techniques for both making and problem solving, enhanced by the occasional sale. As an alternative to having your work become a commodity, there IS support out there, in the form of residencies and grants, but they can be fickle; the pursuit of such support also becomes a full-time job with no guarantee of payment, much like the making. So does the effort of simply putting your work out there. (So, I have no answers, just a few more puzzles to toss into this stew. I've also just been having a conversation with a gallerist who is in the same boat, running an excellent space that cannot be supported by sales).

Velma said...

interesting about the gallerist, because in my naiveté i often see s/he as raking in the dough, so to speak. the good ones work hard to bring our work to the public, and to make sales, which benefit us all. as much as i want funding, i whine about the admin. that goes with it.

mjc said...

She called it a labour of love. Pretty much what we're talking about. Re: the admin for funding, I find it highly whine-able, particularly when you don't get it after all that work :-).

Deb G said...

Yes it is. Life has to be about more than what is useful and needed on a physical level, otherwise it's just about survival and I don't know if that is enough.... Having said that, I struggle with what that means on a global level because, of course, life is very hard for many.


Its a constant tussle but I feel the arist needs to be paid.Art without money doesn't work.

Joei Rhode Island said...

Art is a necessary part of life....even the cave people drew on the walls. But it was after they had shelter and food in their bellies.

jude said...

i mostly find that you are very popular when thing are free.

hard to be just an artist.

i'm confused.

Velma said...

so perhaps there should be not only national health care, but national art care???

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

in my experience, i think the bottom line has
to do with each individual's sense of what
"a living" is. when we say we can't earn
a living with our art, what exactly does that
mean? and then it comes down to what has
value? what do we NEED? to feel safe, housed
adequately, fed? how does that need to LOOK
to others?
i live very simply in a place that doesn't
require much and also doesn't "look" like much
probably to the vast majority of americans.
but I eat well, get around in an old toyota
truck and an old honda hatchback. and i feel
free in general and free to do "art" which to
me is an integral part of life.

Velma said...

grace, this is the way i live, few extras, and i buy art from other artists, small things. and i sell a bit myself. not much...

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

and how does that feeeel? buying art from
other artists?, small things.? do we wish
they would just give it to us? I don't think
so. Adding food to the table of each other
is adding to our own.
Jude recently added Making, marking, mentioning Christine Mauersberger to her
Crossing Paths.
Christine's blog entry for 4-15-10 tells of
her experience with Sunpainting in Honduras
in 2006. 2006
in the comments toward the end, she stated:
"I think about the women almost every day".
....this would be 4 years later....
I looked at her photographs and at the faces
of the women and children
and for me, their expressions answer many
questions about what making Art is "worth".
also, in light of this particular discussion,
a question might be...
if one of those women wanted to "make a
living" from her sunprints, or supplement
her living from her sunprints.... how would
you feel about WANTING one, buying some of
her work? And how is that different from
selling your own?
Selling what one creates to me, does not
diminish it. It helps us live, helps us make
more. Helps us not spend every minute of our
lives doing something to pay bills that will
after all is said and done, amount to nothing.

sorry, i could go on and on. But if we wonder
whether it has value to just make something
beautiful for the sake of making something
beautiful, we should go look at those women.
I find mySelf thinking of them almost every
day now too.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

oh, and i'd been wondering for a long time,
WHERE do you sell your work?

Velma said...

i sell locally, but if you're interested in something you see, or want to see a photo of something, drop me an email.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

me again, more sorry,
it's funny, there's something that kept me
from asking straight out..."velma, do you
sell your art? your books, your paper?
I would like to have some. for myself, a
book. for my own art, paper." Why does
that feel.....funny. We will just use the
word funny. instead of rude.
or crude.
I think there's a lot here to ponder.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

why don't you have a little shop on the sidebar?
I ask this, not really needing you to answer,
but because I sometimes wonder if we are not
ashamed or something, embarassed or something,
we would rather sell our LIVES, at jobs, or
in marital relationships (sorry)

Velma said...

grace-email me here if you want more

cbolyard said...


is it worth it?????????!!!!!!!!

we don't make art just for other people, or to sell it.


and that's enough!

take care bolyard, i know you have the true heart of an artist!

we all have moments when we are unsure.

Velma said...

because we have to. absolutely.

T said...

I often get this same thought,

Why am I doing this art, why am I driving myself to do more and better and more interesting stuff all the time. What for.

Not sure what the answer is. But I do know that I love making stuff.

Judy Martin said...

I loved the entire post that you wrote Velma, and then saw there were 24 comments. After reading those, I must consider , must think about it all.

What I wanted to say was yay for you for even bringing this topic up.
I teach piano so that I don't have to make a living from my art.
I make my art because if I didn't, I would die.

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