Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just Call Me Wicked!

Before the plastic people take up their clay blades and march off into battle with the mud people, let's take another look at the post I made yesterday. I admit I have a bit of a wicked sense of humor. I read the posts from Vince and Barbara and I really did find them amusing and here's why.

Clay has been used to create art for thousands of years. Amazingly beautiful, refined and highly respected works of art. There are entire courses of study devoted to the art of ceramics and other types of clay at major universities all over the world. And then, we have polymer clay, less than one hundred years old, still in its infancy as far as art mediums go. There is no denying that prejudice against artwork made with a man-made plastic exists. And yes, the world would be a much better place if all biases and prejudice would simply vanish tomorrow morning. But realistically, we know that's not going to happen. What is happening though, is that polymer clay is slowly and steadily gaining some respect and recognition in the art world.

So, for thousands of years, all of the mud people weren't able to come up with a way to blend two different colors of clay together, or, if they did, they sure weren't sharing it with their buddies, were they? Then, along comes the fabulous, generous and unassuming Judith Skinner, who not only shakes up the brand-new world of polymer clay but figures out something that all of these clay artists couldn't seem to find a way to do. Hence the title of my earlier post, "Judith Skinner, take a Bow!". It would have been nice to see Vince and Barbara give credit to her for the technique but the fact that ceramic artists (with some pretty impressive credentials, btw) are learning from polymer clay artists is a wonderful testament to what Judith and so many other talented people working in our medium have managed to accomplish.

Does it sting a bit to know that polymer clay is looked at by some people with a bit of disdain? Sure it does. And my imaginary response to them was simply my wicked sense of humor that I called upon to ease a bit of that sting. Hopefully, this will just motivate all of us to work a little harder to make the best art that we can and maybe one morning in the future, we'll wake up and find the prejudices really have vanished.

And just so you don't think ALL clay artists have these biases, if you have a copy of the winter 2003 issue of Polymer Cafe, be sure to check out the article titled "What is Fine Craft?" by my very talented and wonderful friend Dick McGee. It seems like the perfect time to revisit this subject.

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