April 5: Handmade, Homemade, Selfmade, Craft?

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Ahoy, ahoy!

Welcome to my last entry for my Canadian art class!  It’s been a good run.  I hope this journal has helped me to be more interpretive with art and art forms.  I think it has been very useful for my reflections, so hopefully that is a good sign of my abilities to work with art in a productive manner.  In our last class, we tackled the homemade and handmade.  These works are used with methods such as sewing, spinning, knitting or cross stitching.  Typically, these activities are seen as women’s work or handicrafts from long ago.  I must say, I could hardly see my friends and I sitting around knitting or embroidering for an evening.  We’d much rather be out dancing, bowling, playing pool or at the very least, sitting at home and playing cards.  I don’t even know if any of us know how to knit.  I know it’s something I am always meaning to learn, yet never seem to have the time to actually try.  The reintroduction of craft into the fine art world is something that I think is wonderful.  Creating work with string and thread must take just as long as it does to sculpt or carve or paint something.  I also think it has opened up many avenues for reinterpretation of what art truly is.

Sewing and knitting and cloth seem so much more tactile to me, almost more friendly and inviting than a painting.  Concepts like knitting or embroidery are things everyone understands, even if it is just from some old cushions in your grandmother’s living room.  I think that often, embroidery and other things such as this can be more fun and playful than paintings, yet they can also be extremely beautiful, and really quite exquisite pieces.  To imagine that some people do not consider it art is ridiculous to me.  Have they never heard of the Bayeaux Tapestry?  This work is not an actual tapestry, but rather an embroidered cloth.  It has established itself within the canon as an important and relevant work of the early medieval period, not just for art history, but as a document of history in general.  Embroidery is simply another medium for creating work.

Halley's Comet in the Bayeaux Tapestry

For the last time, that’s all!

Brit

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March 31st: Cartoons and Comics

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Ahoy, ahoy!

We’ve entered the last week of classes at Mount Allison!  It should be spring, but of course, we had to be hit with a freak snowstorm on April Fool’s Day.  So it looks like we’ve backtracked a bit into winter, when really it should be spring.  Last Thursday we began discussing comic strips and cartooning.  Often, a cartoonist will not be labelled as an artist, and it’s taken a while for cartooning to become recognized as a legitimate art form.  I think you might still be hardpressed to find people who would willingly accept cartoons and comics as a form of art.  It is unfortunate that comic strip artists and illustrators are often branded as practitioners of a “lower” art form.  Just because their art is often not found within a gallery, does not mean it is a lesser form of art.

I think that so often, drawing gets classified as the “jumping off point” for sculptures, paintings, installations.  I remember having to do a preliminary sketch or series of sketches for each work we wanted to do in my high school art classes.  Very rarely was drawing the medium that the final work would take.  We didn’t even have a unit on cartooning or illustrating in the whole three years of art classes that I took.  These were ventures that would be encouraged for you to take on yourself, outside of class time.  However, despite this somewhat negative association, comics and illustrations are the mediums by which I personally believe the majority of the Western population experiences art.  Comic strips appear in each daily paper, often running for years at a time.  My personal favourite comic is Calvin and Hobbes, which ran from November 1985 to December 1995.  That’s ten years of fresh ideas, every day of the week!  I think everyone has a favourite comic, or can at least name one that they find funny.

A "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip

Additionally, part of being a comic artist is being able to come up with characters and storylines that are able to be expressed with a correct balance of text and drawing.  Comics take on a different style and feel that is often reflective of the comic artist, and more often than not, a comic artist’s self will be reflected in their characters.  I think that being a cartoonist is being an artist, it’s just a more accessible form of art to everyone.  So often, people unfamiliar with art will either claim to find it boring or they will feel embarrassed about not knowing too much about it.  Comics are an art form that everyone has access to and can enjoy on their own or with other people.

That’s all!

Brit