[Clayart] challenge everything

Snail Scott via Clayart clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Thu Apr 23 13:33:10 EDT 2015

On Apr 23, 2015, at 9:31 AM, mel jacobson via Clayart wrote:
> ...craft clubs
> and local societies are going out of the field all over the world...

I am a member of some long-standing clubs, and I see the membership 
aging, and fewer new folks coming on board. I don't think it's a lack of 
interest in the broad area of the subject, though. I think it has a lot to 
do with the nature of clubs. They are social as much as interest-driven, 
and the strong social bonds that led to early success can actually make 
it hard for new members to find a place. Even if everyone is friendly and 
welcoming, the social dynamic was fossilized years ago and the old 
folks don't even realize how much of what they do subtly excludes the
new folks.  So, the potential new folks go elsewhere, and find or form 
clubs with other new folks, where everyone is on a more equal footing, 
and have more in common with one another.  

The exact subject of the clubs' interest may not be the same, but while 
(for example) rigorous pen-and-ink calligraphy of the sort I was trained
in is probably waning, I have students who are fanatical about other 
things with the same degree of persistent study. Not most of them, to be 
sure! Most do seem to seek the easy 'macros' to plug in to get a fixed, 
predictable result. ("Hey, Snail, how do I make a tree?") But I suspect 
most people have always been that way. Pre-printed needlework 
designs go back to the dawn of printing. Codified art methodologies go 
back, too - look at those Victorian stroke-by-stoke instructions on how to 
paint a rose. Not teaching a deep skill or a route to understanding - just 
a shortcut to an acceptable outcome. 

I'm pretty sure the enthusiasts with a desire for true mastery are still 
out there in every generation - I think it's genetic. The ones who want 
it will find it or make it.  We, however, have self-selected a community 
around ourselves which contains a lot of those people, so we think 
it's the world of our generation. I recall a lot of lazy-ass slackers in my 
youth, though - I just don't hang out with them anymore, so they've 
gone invisible to me, and I tend to forget them. Rigorous, disciplined 
study toward excellence was never a pursuit for 'the many'. The flavor 
and nature of of the pursuit may have shifted, but 'the few' are still out 
there, doing what they're called to do. (Whatever the heck it is.)


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