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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

But, what's it good for?

I got asked this one again the other day from someone admiring my 'beautiful' saggar pots (their words). And in the same breath, 'But what's it good for?'

It seems to be happening more and more as the economy gets worse, and I'm thinking that this same tendency to connect value with utility is connected to the recent problems at Arrowmont and the NC Pottery Center, and every other arts organization in the country struggling to keep their doors open. As living get's more difficult, it seems the first things to go are those which can lift us out of the dark spaces of 'just surviving'.

Then I read this today over at the ArtBizBlog --Overheard at an art fair 'I don't mind spending money on art--as long as it's useful.'

While I do understand this on a level of someone looking to get the most for their art-purchasing dollar, I think pottery is more connected with an expectation of function than other art forms. I'm not aware of anyone asking 'what's it good for?' of an oil painting for example. You would not expect the buyer to use it as a functional canvas, a pillow top or shower curtain perhaps. (would you??) But make something out of clay and people immediately want to brew tea in it, eat breakfast out of it, drink coffee from it, or stick flowers in it.

'Because it's beautiful and uplifts the human spirit' just doesn't seem to make it with the more practical customers out there. So I'm working on a more concrete list of benefits; here's what I have so far -- please add any others you have in Comments

Studies show that contemplating art lowers stress. (full paper)

Art enhances patient well-being in hospitals.

This is not news to those of us involved in the arts. So let's all start a new campaign -- "Buy Art and Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life!"


Judy Shreve said...

Brian here's a neat petition: "Buy something unique from a craft person." Check out this webpage and pass it along. I'm with you -- I already know how wonderful using handmade art is -- let's get the rest of the world to follow suit.

Meagan Chaney said...

That would make a great bumper sticker! (if it isn't already)

Brian said...

Didn't find that exact phrase, but did find an 'Art heals' one.

The same designer has other ones along the same line.

I briefly considered getting into the bumper sticker business, but quickly ruled it out. I've got enough to do.

gary rith said...

basically, the h*ll with them if they can't just enjoy art for arts sake...
customers, can't live with them, can't live without them...