Welcome to Kathleen’s Art Blog!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Personal Myths and Wearing Art

"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art". This is a quote by Oscar Wilde that I've known for about 15 years, but only two weeks ago decided to put as a handwritten headline in my booth for shows. Having just returned from the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, I am struck by the many familiar and consistent comments I hear at my shows. These comments all have to do with how we as women view ourselves and how I have learned NOT to view myself, but rather as Oscar says - either being or wearing a work of art.

When customers come up to my booth, I sometimes hear gasps, often hear comments like "I've never seen anything like these!", and often get lots of questions like "Are these really purses?" or "Is that really a pin?". But then, when they really start looking at my work, the comments get personal and I hear things like, "Oh, you have to be tall to wear those neckpieces", or "I'm too tall to wear that neckpiece", or "My chest is too small to wear that", or "My chest is too large to wear that" or "I don't go anywhere to wear that" or "I wish I could wear that". Now, I realize that sometimes these comments are just ways for people to tell me that they don't want to buy my work and are moving on, but often, they REALLY like the jewelry or purse and spend a bit of time looking at everything in my booth.

I have decided that all of these comments are myths we create about ourselves and have imbedded into our identities. Maybe it's something our mother told us or something we just prefer to believe because it's an excuse to not try very hard to look nice. One of my best collectors is a petite woman (5'1" or 5'2") who wears statement neckpieces and bracelets. Another is tall and very thin. Another is extremely full-figured. They all look terrific in my jewelry and purses and they carry it well because they have the self-confidence and interest to wear art. What they also have is the courage to change and the courage to try on new things.

I see too many women who look dumpy and unhappy because they wear baggy, shapeless, or uninteresting clothes with a little tiny silver chain with a heart on it. Sometimes, spurred on by friends, they try on one of my less showy neckpieces with a silver spiral, faux stone, and silver stick on steel cable that is sophisticated and artistic in an understated way, and they find they look and FEEL terrific! Then if they buy it, they go off feeling so good about themselves. They had the courage to try on something they wouldn't normally try on and the courage to change.

When I know I look good, I also feel good. That's why even though I live and have my studio out in the woods of New Hampshire, I wear a neckpiece and/or cool earrings every day as well as put on makeup and spend time on my hair so that I'll feel good while I'm working.

The point is, being a work of art or wearing a work of art is not for others, it's for YOU.


Kate said...

This is SO true. I work part time in women's clothing but my passion is my jewelry making. In both places I constantly try to help women feel better about themselves by trying things that think they can't do! I am glad someone else notices the phenomenon :)

Anonymous said...

I want to be a work of art!
In the mean time, I do enjoy wearing other peoples art.

2 Good Claymates said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I see many women drooling over all the colors (I love color and not afraid to use or wear it) and then they will end up saying "I can't wear that -- it's not me" and then pick out the one in black and white or brown. I find myself wearing drab colors at times and that is how I end up feeling! When I wear real living color I feel alive, cheery and good about myself! If only other women could see that more... thanks so much for sharing!

Carolyn Good

Tejae Floyde said...

This is so true!

It's so interesting to see people wearing art or dressed in a creative way. It makes me want to engage with them...they are a walking conversation piece. :)


Eva Maria Keiser said...

Thank you Kathleen for this article. It reminded me of other cultures, where myth and heritage is honored with adornment no matter the medium or size!

Christine Damm said...

Kathleen, this post is so right-on and really useful for any artist who sells their jewelry. I wear my jewelry when I go for a loaf of bread in my small Vermont village and never fail to get positive comments and hand out a few business cards to women both young and old. People respond to seeing good design and interesting color and it's a great way to start a conversation. Breaking the myth of what's ok to wear because of a certain body type ought to be the goal of any wearable art designer.

Stephen*z said...

you are so right on. I watch those make over shows (yes I am a man and I do watch them) because I love to see the transformations. not the visual but the emotional. most of the women want to be exciting and wear interesting things, but their "mold" will not let them break out. as you said, watching that transformation is a wonderful thing to see and I am envious of you to get to see it in person.

Pretty Things said...

I found you via Christine Damm -- so glad I did!

You really have hit the nail on the head with this post. I hear that a lot with the glass jewelry I make, and sometimes it's just getting the person to hold it. They also see me, all 5'2" hundred-and-plenty of me in a t-shirt and jeans wearing wild and funky and large jewelry to realize they really CAN wear that piece with anything they want.

Looking forward to more blog entries!

BluMoon said...

Kathleen, I so agree with you I do just the same at home each day wear one of my necklaces plus earrings, always perfume I never go out without a little make up. It builds self confidence and just makes one feel good. Also I almost never wear dark coloured clothes I like to live in the light!
I do admire your wonderful purses especially the pod series they are so intricate and beautiful.

S.E.B & J.A.D. said...


Well, what should I say? I think it's all about art, we can't ignore it and it'll be an interesting Exposition.

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