Devos Place – Grand Rapids, MI
April 10 – April 20, 2015
What is the difference between work, production, or artistry? My notions of artistry and work coincide. I buy cotton, measure it, crochet following a particular pattern, make mistakes, make adjustments, try something new, and end up with a cotton ball. I buy painting supplies, make a simple sketch on the canvas, mix paints, apply the paint, make mistakes, make adjustments, try something new, and end up with a painting. My work is valuable to me in that I learn something from every crochet, and from every line of paint on the canvas. Learning and applying that knowledge to current and future work is rewarding and challenging – in other words, it’s valuable.
But then, what does it mean to produce something of “value”? When I produce something that is valuable to me, I love it, the world needs it, I am paid for it, and I am great at it. But this raises questions like, if I produce something and I am not paid for it, is it valuable? Or I may not love it, so does it have value? When I’m painting, I am drawn to mason jars and food. I think that when food is placed inside a mason jar it becomes interesting, distorted in its shape and discolored on its surfaces. Food has a nutritional value. But sitting in my still life, distorted by mason jars, I start to wonder if it retains or loses its value.
This concept of “value” influences my work. When I’m spending things like time and material costs in the studio, I often ponder if what I am creating is worth the value, to me or to others. Do the input and output match up, or which one is greater? And for whoever makes that decision, why is it so? I also think about whether to be considered work, an action or thing must have value. I strive to discern value in my paid and unpaid service, in the studio painting, in my living room crocheting, and in my pay-the-bills job. Therefore, “working” is valuable, both emotionally and fiscally.