I am a Maker. I fiercely respect the Maker, and I try to be one as often as I can. It is the most fundamental of human activities– to work with our hands, creating something from nothing. When someone asks me who I am or what I do, I call myself an Artist. This is not better than a Maker– just a more complex form of one. Sometimes the Maker can go missing within the Artist, and then the Artist becomes hollow. They become political or symbolic and forget about the essence of creating.
As an Artist, like a Maker, I also put thought and aesthetic value into the things I make. Sometimes, when I do traditional works, there is more academic thought, compared to creating contemporary pieces, where the thought is more of a philosophical nature. Both are intense and valid. But as an Artist, it isn’t just about making the next beautiful object. Art must be an expression of my life experiences (either as voyeur or as participant) in this incredible journey. And if I can express it in a way that is honest and immediate, ingenious and unusual, rare and exceptional, then I will have stepped from the Maker into the Artist’s shoes.
Art doesn’t have to be beautiful, ugly, shocking nor sublime, but it should be Visionary. By ‘Visionary’ I mean a unique perspective that gives insight to the world, an emotion, or the human condition in a fresh, new way. I realize this might not be a profound definition of ART, but it is the clearest and most concise word I have been able to come up with.
When dealing with aesthetics of a Work, I find myself in the role of editor frequently. Sometimes the lack of conventional beauty is surprisingly attractive. As an Artist I choose when and how this takes place in the work. It has everything to do with subject-matter. Beauty is abundant in the natural world, but too much of it– left in its raw chaotic form– and we just pass beauty by. It doesn’t strike us as powerful because Art is not just about the object, but rather the object in comparison to its surroundings. As an Artist, things are not as simple as making an object visually pleasing. The environment around us is always a factor in Art’s success or failure. Art cannot be created in a vacuum.
Keep environment in mind, but not the audience. When creating Art, one must not think of the audience’s feelings because then it would be pleasing or performing instead of unravelling the truth. It is as important for an Artist NOT to think of the audience as it is for a writer to ignore censorship. Truth is paramount and this can only be found during internal dialogue. I have found that the more secluded and personal I am while I create, the more people relate to my Art. I create what needs to be made. I think about what needs to be said. I make an image that needs to be freed from the confines of the mind, to be seen in a real and tangible form. It is a reward when the audience understands and is moved by the finished piece. And it is only then the Artist and Audience meet.
I imagine that as a Maker, there is a precise pattern to follow and a feeling of patience through the process. I imagine a rhythm takes over as the Maker meticulously creates his craft. I have none such feeling, but often yearn for it. In contrast, as an Artist, I can say that ideas tend to burn holes inside of one’s gut until it gets out. It is the fervor and the fever that forces our hand. Mortality and time are our enemies, as our identities are measured by the creations of our visions. A lifetime is not nearly long enough to realize them all. Sometimes it causes me to shake in nervous excitement. Other times I find myself dancing around or having philosophical conversations with my sculptures. (Absurd, I know!)
We must realize we are standing on the shoulders of many before us, and this position as an Artist is one of great value and honor, and cannot be taken lightly. We are not entertainers or designers for an audience, but instead we speak for each and every one. We add significance, meaning and conversation that may not have taken place before. It’s a true labor of love, but it’s not easy. The job comes with a heavy burden and no guarantee of reward or notice. I believe it’s not something the Artist chooses–it seems we are born into it. When it gets to be too heavy to carry, I find the best thing to do is set it all down. Step back into the Maker’s shoes, and find the rhythm of creating again. That’s where the joy lies.
Paige Bradley, 1995