One of the quilts of Gee's Bend
The notion of a participatory makeocracy thrills me, well and truly, for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that I relish the blurring or even eradicating of borders and divisions — integration not segregation!
Think of how not so long ago textile arts, for instance, were generally filed under the heading “craft” and often ignored by museums and art galleries. Think of how now knitters and embroiderers and weavers and quilters and other makers and manipulators of fabric have museums and art galleries queueing up to exhibit their makings. The old hierarchy that placed art above craft is crumbling — now we’re not nearly as likely to distinguish art from craft as we were only a few short years ago. Hell, DIY culture is alive and well and assertively present in the cultural landscape these days, where until pretty recently it was relegated to a dimly lit corner populated by girls with glue guns and old guys with awls. In this time and this place though, the handmade, the not-slick, the possibly a little off-kilter, is here — just look at the growing interest in letterpress printing, for instance, or the way Etsy has taken off — and here to stay, I’d like to think.
And now people who make things don’t need to wait for an invitation to participate in a gallery exhibit or a design expo or a craft show; now people who make things can build websites to showcase (and sell!) their wares. Or form online artist collectives or sign up with Etsy or Threadless or Spoonflower. And come on, you can’t tell me that isn’t a thrilling turn of events.
Really, for all the limitless opportunity for time-wasting that the Internet offers, it’s also a fantastic democratiser, enabling more artists and artisans and makers than ever before to show off their wares and more people than ever before to sample those wares. As for me, I’m all for giving artists and artisans and makers more opportunity to make a splash and to make a living. And I’m certainly all for increased access to art and the handmade. No matter what anybody tells me, I say that for anyone making art or seeking exposure to art, the interwebs are full of WIN.