Saturday, September 13, 2014

Yes, we do need to tell people that what we do is worthwhile. All of us.

This past week I had the most excellent opportunity to hear Stephanie Pearl-McPhee speak. I have been something of a stalker groupie for a very long time. I expected to laugh, and I did laugh harder than I have in many months. In fact, all you have to do is say, "baking powder" and I'll be rolling on the floor again. It was that funny.

But I especially appreciated Stephanie's case for sticking up for ourselves as fiber artists. She is a knitter, but I do believe this applies to all fiber pursuits.

From time to time we as tapestry weavers cycle through the same discussion about changing the art world's perception of us from "weaver, craft-maker, hobbyist" to "artist". There are various discussions about how to do this and many of them are grounded in truth and are extremely valid arguments.

But here is where it starts.
We have to believe in ourselves.

If you have the courage to show someone your work, when they say they love your use of color or the way you made those curves flow into each other or the way you made that particular window placement question the rest of the composition and you reply,
"Yeah, but I really screwed up the selvages and did you see the weft float over here? and I can't believe I wasn't able to make that circle round,"
you are doing all fiberists a disservice. I don't mean to be harsh about it, but if you work hard on something and you show it to someone and they say nice things about it, there is only one thing you should say in response.

Thank you.

Do not point out the flaws that you see in it. Other people don't see those.
Celebrate the joy you just inspired in someone else. Look at your work through their eyes for a moment. Do not make self-deprecating comments.

I'm not saying this is easy to do by any means. I think it is especially difficult for females. We are trained not to value what we do.

This is bullshit.

You are beautiful. Your work has value. You have value.
Life is excruciatingly short. Celebrate every accomplishment. Love the amazing things you make with your hands. Accept compliments. Say thank you. Just try it.

12 comments:

  1. Amen. That self-denigration thing is a trap that damages us all.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for that very important reminder.

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  3. Lucky you! And what wise words. Believing in yourself and your art goes a long way in directing the dialogue.

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  4. How true this is, especially of me! I ALWAYS point out the faults in what I’ve done even when people admire it. Self-depracation is a very difficult habit to get out of - some sort of thing about not wanting to brag about what you’ve done in case other people don’t think it’s good. I fully intend to try to stop doing it when I show people the wonderful things I’m expecting to learn on your upcoming course!

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    1. Awesome Angie. I can't wait to see what you do myself. :)

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  5. I will add another AMEN SISTER!

    easier said than done, but i will do it next time. not try-just do.

    thanks for the inspiration!

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  6. Excellent, Rebecca! I agree wholeheartedly!

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  7. Wonderful article. Can't think of how often when someone compliments a piece we react by pointing out the mistakes.

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  8. Replies
    1. Whoo-Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!! And you have to say it in a southern accent. "Ba-con Paw-der". The story was about why Stephanie can never go back to Memphis. It was awesome. Laughing again.

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