Edited. Originally published on May 21, 2012.
These things are true about me, crafting my life.
I made art as a baby, crafted as a child, and studied art as a young adult. As a yound adult I made my living in graphic design work. Throughout my life I studied art again, and then again and again—always a student. My favorite form of communication is visually and in writing. Crafting and creating a life is beautiful and artful living matters.
My childhood can be measured in creative phases: I have painted, drawn, cross-stitched, quilted, sewed, puppet crafted, made art with yarn and fabric, card crafted, knitted, clay + ceramic building, learned batik, made macramé, put together plastic model airplanes, used fire to fuse encaustic, installed art installations, and authored books. Constantly creating with my hands and heart. My mind got involved later when I studied to receive my MFA.
An Original Suzanne Utaski (my maiden name), created in ceramics class 8th grade. Inspired by Goodnight Moon.
In recent weeks I have been consumed with the idea of helping artists to more fully express their visual voice. To calibrate a newly crafted way of life, I believe we need the voices of all kinds of people to mingle, listen, and share.
I feel as though I am uniquely qualified to do this work. As I mentioned, I started expressing my creative voice as a child. In addition to arts and crafts, I regularly created costumes and dressed up. I did performances with friends, for friends, with family and for family. My life as a child was full, provocative, and exciting. Growing up in Mexico and Brazil, I absorbed cultural differences at a very young age. Learning to love all kinds of people. Growing up without TV or the Internet allowed my imagination and utopian vision of our world to flourish.
Crafting or making things was a typical part of my play and my day in my house.
I did not know that I was very lucky to grow up this way. What I’d like to do now is help others to craft a life worth sharing. If you are reading this, implore you to follow your curiosity, and make your ideas sharable (not only on the internet).
The internet is a gift and a hindrance.
We’ve begun to loose the joy of personal expression as we swish our fingers across screens. Vicariously living through other people’s content, we loose sight of our own. I know I am guilty of social media surfing! Children as young as 9 months can be seen “playing” on their parents or their own iPhone’s or iPad’s. I fear loosing touch with their own voice, before it even has a chance to develop.
The inherent joy in crafting a life well lived is beautiful.
Making items by hand: whether we call it crafting, craftivism, studio crafting, making, creating, art, drawing, painting or whatever—the innate desire to communicate and create connection—is of huge value to humanity. Our voices matter. Communication through objects we make to share is worthy and worthwhile.
Fully realizing your voice and then learning how to best express that story is priceless.
I remember going into New York City with my mother as a teenager in 1979. We visited a museum show about American Quilts. Many of the the quilts on display in the exhibition were made by the Amish. Included also was an exploration of the tradition of quilting in America. The quilts were beautiful, the show had a historical framework that enhanced the story of the quilts and all of them were hung like paintings on the walls of the museum. At this show I could feel the passion. Art creation requires the use of the makers’ hand, heart, and voice.
I think this exhibit was possibly the beginning of my love affair with art. More specifically art made by women. The quilts represented art that was both beautiful and practical.
Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, #9, Mixed Media, varied sizes.
I enjoyed the quilt show so much that I spent the next year designing and making my first quilt. Entirely by hand with help from my mother.
I crafted the quilt, for use in my own life.
Later, I took the quilt to college with me. Four years after that, I took the quilt across the country from Pittsburgh to California for my first job and apartment.
My quilt was stolen from me.
One night while enjoying a date in San Francisco my boyfriends’ car got broken into and the quilt was gone when we returned. I hoped the person that took my quilt needed the item for warmth. Instead of anger, I held the image of the thief needing the warmth of a crafted object.
To me, objects made by hand hold more value than those purchased in big box stores.
The objects made by hand can be anything: quilts, paintings, drawings, or books. What matters most is the person who made the work and that they are realizing and sharing their voice.
“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy)
To me, art is craft and craft is art. My head, heart, and hands have make all the work I have ever created. I have a lifetime of experience in expressive creation.
I now have the desire to understand, share, and cultivate not only my voice but that of other artists as well.
There are those who persist in the separation of Art and Craft, and they should because it helps both sides to stretch and grow as they argue the hierarchy in arbitrarily created constructs. However, I am happy to be the middle person and persist in working and believing in both camps while helping artists to realize the importance of their own voice in whatever medium they choose.
Crafting a life, Part 1 can be found in this previous blog.