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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fashion Week

I have had a very busy summer and so I am sorry for not having written anything for a couple of months.

Last week I went with some girlfriends on an overnight trip to New York city with the idea of going to Bryant Park to check out all the glitterati in their Manolo Blahniks going in and out of the designer runway shows (one of my friends weaves and makes clothing for a living). Amazingly, we saw the college-age daughter of another friend of ours who is a student at NYU and who was doing an internship stint at Fashion Week. Knowing it is impossible to get into the shows unless you are someone, we asked her if there was any way she could get us into standing-room-only at a show. She went to find out, and she got us some tickets!

Granted it was the collection of a young and supposedly up-and-coming Russian designer, but still it was a runway show in New York city! The show lasted all of 12 minutes with young, blond concentration-camp-like women walking very fast down the runway in his spring collection. The clothes did not make a lasting impression on me, but it was pretty exciting.

After that we went to a shop on Madison Ave. called "Julie: Artisans' Gallery" which is a gallery of wearable art, and there in the front window were 7 or my purses! I had just sent them to the shop and they had mentioned that maybe they would put some in the window, but it was still terribly exciting. They looked terrific.

We ate in a fabulous restaurant in the Meatpacking District and shopped in the West Village. Then we took a very cheap bus back to Boston ($18 one-way), then another bus up to New Hampshire. All in all, it was a splendid way to spend time with girlfriends.

But frankly, I am really glad to be home. I got my big-city fix and can now reflect on the whole experience. It seems trite to say it, but the whole Fashion Week experience was shallow. Is this what life is all about? To some people it is - paying attention to the latest must-haves. And actually I am quite ambivalent because this is the market I sell to.

I sell cool little containers and artsy jewelry for people to carry around and impress others. I feel uncomfortable about that and yet I really enjoy and have a passion for what I am doing.

I don't know if other artists are in this quandary. Maybe it's a result of living in frugal New Hampshire. Or maybe it's a result of my Christian faith and reading in the Bible about materialism. What ever it is, I've been doing a lot of thinking about it.


Pauline said...

Kathleen, stop "thinking" about it. Your gift is to produce those awesome things of beauty, those who can afford them buy them, and the rest of us just drool when we see them. Your work brings a smile and a renewed sense of wonder, to those who see them. Isn't that enough?
Plus, you share your talent with others to spread your passion for art, and craftsmanship around. I was lucky enough to be in one of your classes at Arrowmont, years and years ago. I will never forget your generosity and your spirit. God works in mysterious ways and I believe true faith is to believe that all is as it should be! Sometimes that is really hard to accept.

laurenabrams said...

I like to believe that art and craft is acquired out of the same passion for beauty that inspires it's creation.

I know it's not always true, but it's a great rationalization!

Vickie said...

Hi Kathleen, I understand your dilemma since I also enjoy the Bible and try to be guided by it. Interestingly, although the Bible says we need to avoid a materialistic attitude, it acknowledges that we need "things". In Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount he spoke of not being anxious over what we are to eat or drink or wear, stating that, if we prioritize spiritual things then material necessities will come to us. What I find interesting in this chapter of Matthew is that in vs. 28, 29 & 30 he points out that God clothed the lilies of the field more beautifully than even wealthy Solomon was able to clothe himself! Our creator is an artist. We are created to appreciate beauty. He placed his artistic creations where everyone could appreciate them - maybe that's the key - along with providing beauty that can be purchased which in turn supports us, maybe we should also be looking for opportunities to make it possible for our creations to be appreciated by everyone. Just a thought. You certainly made ME think today! Thank you.

Grant Diffendaffer said...

I know just how you feel Kathleen. Part of it makes me re-consider my market. I do want to make my work available to those who want it but I have to price it highly enough to make it worthwhile selling. I fall somewhere in between "stop shopping" and "buy all my stuff." I think the root of the issue is our desire to prevent waste and mindless consumerism. I don't think anything moves us toward that goal quite like making things that are not meant to be wasted. It's taking people back to a process that existed everywhere before industrialization. It's about handmade items that are meant to last and meant to connect people to the value of quality and not quantity. I've no doubt people who buy your work go for both quite often. Nevertheless, they can only wear one purse at a time, and when they wear yours, it is not one of many, but "the one." The point is that our resources, both human and natural, are precious, and we disrespect that fact when we make anything that is less than precious from them.

Caren said...

Kathleen, your creations are from your heart and soul, evolved from years of passion for what you do.

Whatever that meaningless fleeting fashion runway stuff is....your work is the opposite.

So many of us have been lifted to greater heights by seeing your work. At the end of the movie "As Good As It Gets", Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt: "You make me want to be a better man." Well, Kathleen, the inspiration of seeing your polymer creations makes me want to be a better artist.

LJ said...

I used your site as an example of really great photographs of fabulous work.
I learned from an interview with you that you are dead without good photographs.
Tonight I started to read you blog and was...encouraged...I guess that's the word.
I love to do the work I do. But I'm not cut out for the social side of it...
It's not the same thing. I feel I'm only starting, but it was good to realize that some of us would just rather work than schmooze.
Thanks for that.
And thanks for your astonishing work - which is just a treat to see, each and every time.

Vampi said...

Personally, I see what you do as bringing a moment of pleasure to someone in an otherwise overwhelming world... because it gives you pleasure to create such pieces of beauty. I know that when I purchase something, it's usually because it's brought a smile to my face and I hope that when I wear or show it to someone else, I'm sharing that moment of happiness ;)

pat said...

You're a "seller of purple." (Lydia sold goods to the elite and powerful, and also worshiped God. One did not negate the other.)

gia said...

I think beautiful things are sometimes adopted by the "fashionistas" of the material world, but there will always be a place for them outside of that also - if you think about some of the work in the british museum, when it was made it was fashion jewellery, now its priceless!
God is in appreciation of beauty and small things - God is in the moment to moment of ENJOYING those moments.
I too have thought a lot about these things, especially recently and I think (for me anyway) that if you are loving what you do, then regardless of where your creations end up, they will be honoured - because you made them with enjoyment and appreciation.... you think?
I'd love to be able to take a workshop from you Katherine - I've never taken a workshop before, I'm at uni now and miles and miles away from being able to take one of your classes!
I wish you continued enjoyment and success.

michele said...

Just keep creating and not worry about the rest. Use this to inspire more great things... Without creativity beautiful things are not possible.

Nashville Beatle said...

There are so many cool ideas that
polymer clay artists are able come up with.

Art Is...Slan said...

Kathleen, my friend Pamela Huntingon just sent me your link with just the words "ooh she is amazing". Yes you are!

Don't over think. If you bring joy to those who purchase your beautiful work, then where is the harm. You would have not been given this gift, if you were not meant to share it.

What a thrill to see your work in a window in NYC! You must have done the happy dance.

Debbie said...

Grant said it very succinctly. Would the dilemma still exist for you if you were selling art just as 'Art'? Not something to be worn, but just as a thing of beauty and inspiration? From a museum?

Yours is 'Art'. It also is able to be worn, which it is seen and appreciated by a much larger audience. So much the better!

Please continue to make the world a beautiful place, one thing at a time. Someone choosing a piece of yours is not 'mindlessly consuming' (as Grant put so well), but consciously choosing an individual thing of beauty.

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