Cardboard…I need some opinions

How important do you think it is that working processes behind craft are displayed in an exhibition? I’m zooming in on ‘fine art’ jewellery especially, something which might be difficult for an outsider who wasn’t involved in the creative process of a piece to understand. A lot of the time, especially with jewellery, a buyer has to feel a connection with a piece to purchase it and hand crafted art jewellery is no exception. With so-called ‘fine art’ jewellery, people can find it difficult to relate to something obscure, mixed media, made with the love and opinions of the artist if there is no explanation of the ideas and theory behind it available.
I went to see an exhibition recently at the St. Andrews Museum called Causing Chaos. The aim of this exhibition was to display objects which subvert their function. The Jewellery and Metalwork artist is a lady called Shari Pierce who makes her ‘wearable art’ from cardboard, old house paint and plastic chains, among other things. What do you think of it?

I didn’t like it at first, I didn’t understand it. But I googled her and got to her website, and read about her background and the background of her work, and slowly came around to it. Are you going to google her and find out what it is about? Should she have an explanation displayed with her work, like sketches, models or a paragraph? I ask this because one of the most interesting opinions I have been given in my research is ‘If you have to explain the processes behind a final piece, then as an artist you have failed’. And I’m just not sure… I like to know what someone was thinking when they designed and made a piece.
Any opinions gratefully accepted, please leave a comment or e-mail me, helenfchalmers@yahoo.com

Helen*

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4 responses to “Cardboard…I need some opinions

  1. I don’t like the idea of too much information beside work in exhibitions etc. And I don’t agree that artists have failed if a viewer doesn’t fully ‘get’ the work. If you do a client led narrative piece why would anyone else need to understand it or the processes behind it, even if it’s displayed in a gallery.

    If you want to know why someone did something then it’s fine to go looking, maybe that’s part of the process, the maker maybe wants to educate you (or maybe not) but I don’t think it has to be obvious.

    I like Shari as well, perhaps for her politics as much as her work, she said at the Causing Chaos symposium that she isn’t a jeweller but an artist who utilises jewellery! She also said that her work is made to be worn although most ends up on clients walls. Until then I thought she was a jeweller and none of it was meant to be worn so there you go!

  2. I went to see Causing Chaos aswell, the only problem with an exhibiton like this is that the viewer would need to have previous background information on the artist to grasp the concept to understand the works displayed.

    There are two types of viewers, those who are fans and artists alike and the general public who at the gallery were more likely to stumble upon the exhibiton whilst having their afternoon tea and scone.

    The general public wouldn’t have been able to fully understand it with the lack of information on process (it doesn’t need to be a lengthy blurb) and the likelihood that they didn’t have any background information on the artist, whom if they did they could probably have related to and understood the concept unlike the majority of art students who stood utterly alienated from the whole show.

    The reason behind this being that the exhibiton was based on the process behind craft, but without the helpful guided talk we were given we wouldn’t have known anything.

    I think overall it is really important to engage your viewer in some sort of process as to why or how we made a piece otherwise we are in danger of alienating our viewers from our work. Our works there to be enjoyed, but who’s going to enjoy it if we continually make it difficult to build a bridge between the general public and art.

  3. Personally Ilike to read an interesting artist statement about a the process of a piece of work – it won’t make me love the piece if I didn’t already, but it does create a connection between artist and viewer, and I like that interchange/dialogue.

    And because I’m not well versed in fine art, I’m also posting someone else’s article about this idea *G*

    http://luannudell.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/ten-myths-about-artists-5-my-art-speaks-for-itself/

  4. I thought it more pertinent to ask my customers this question – would it make a difference to them if I displayed information, processes etc. And the answer was a resounding ‘no’. They buy it because it suits their personal preferences, matches their outfit, or falls in their price range. They enjoy the fact that it is an individually made, one off piece, but aren’t really that interested to know more. However, I sell face to face, not over the internet, so perhaps that affects their perception.

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