It is all related. This is something I have witnessed and experienced in my own creative process. Whether I am making a pot, working on a sculpture or a painting, pushing a pencil, or creating something functional for the home – work informs itself. The act of making not only transcends the confines of materials, but it also helps refine the hand, the eye, the aesthetic, and the labor itself.
Additionally, the idea that labor is meaningful and pleasurable is essential to the development of my work. I respect “the belief that the manner of doing anything has a certain aesthetic importance of its own independent of the importance of what is done.” Charles Sheeler expressed this idea as seen in the Shaker’s work ethic as such:
“[The Shakers] recognized no justifiable difference in the quality of workmanship for any object, no gradations in the importance of the task. All must be done equally well. Whether it was the laying of a stone floor in the cellar, the making of closet doors in the attic, or the building of a meeting house, the work required nothing less than all the skill of the workmen.”
I endeavor to resonate with the Shakers in this respect. However, the challenge is set against one’s own natural tendencies, and “unfortunately, we do not desire to be such as the Shaker was; we do not propose to ‘work as though we had a thousand years to live, and as though we were to die tomorrow.’” It is this challenge, to create work, and to create work well, to master my materials and the skills of my hands, that keeps the creative process so fresh and invigorating. As an aid in this endeavor, I am reminded and prodded by Chuck Close’s stirring testament to his own ethos: “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work …All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself …If you just get to work, something will occur.”
David Pye. The Nature and Art of Workmanship (London: The Herbert Press, 1995) 127.
Sprigg, June. Shaker Design. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1986) 10.
Berry, Wendell. Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1993) 111.
“Inspiration is for Amateurs.” Design Sojourn. Designsojourn.com, 2010. 4 Jan. 2013.