Friday, September 19, 2008

Conceptual metalsmithing/Me Ranting

Well well well. I just read a little , ahem, posting over at Conceptual metalsmithing. Another call to arms?

The new SNAG conference is called Revolution. What is going to be revolutionary about it? Gabriel points out....not the speakers. Well.... I kind of disagree. Maybe the whole point of having these lecturers is to have something to rebel against? I am excited to see almost all of them speak. I will be listening,watching and reacting. Old school versus New school. It is going to be a great conference.

Moving on. I think as jewelry designers/metal workers we bite the hand that feeds us. Let me explain. First you have every one has this mantra now "out with the old, in with the new". Complaining about this is kind of like the pot calling the kettle black but let me just say I still believe in the basics first. You can't expect to have design sense, structure or assemblage skills without taking basic courses! Second, you have to remember the "old school" paved to way for the "new school" they made it possible to even have all of this. I love the old school. Now if we can just get them to use a computer everything would be fine. Also without knowing the history of our field its like a real life Holiday Inn Express commercial. You know the one. "Do you know how to raise a teapot from a flat sheet spout and all?"..."sure! I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night." Just because you took three metals classes it doesn't make you an expert on way things are or should be. Shoot I have had over twenty or so metals classes in my time and I STILL don't really know anything (really want to learn how to properly set stones, how to engrave, granulation, metal spinning and knife making etc etc etc). Who do you think I am going to want to learn this information from? Someone that took a two week workshop? or someone that has been making knives for thirty years?

On the other end of the spectrum. I believe that most educational information should be free to everyone. I know this is wishful thinking but hey this day and age there is no reason not to have it all out there. Welcome Internet. We love you. This is problematic. Most blogs on craft, ahem, seem very anti academic. Again kind of a biting the hand that feeds us thing. Consider this: the rhetoric, theory and examples used on such blogs are inherently academic in nature! The authors probably learned all of this in school. With the race for presidency in full swing I would like to point out how political in nature this is. I think its what you would call an "upstart": (an arrogant or presumptuous person) or "rabble-rouser": (A person who tries to stir up masses of people for political action by appealing to their emotions rather than their reason). Academia is not evil. SNAG is not evil. You make the experience. You make of it what you will. An education should give you the tools to succeed not tell you how to succeed. I didn't learn a lot of technical skill in grad school. But that is not what grad school is for. It is about a personal evolution with guidance from "professionals". Saying all of this the system is flawed. What we teach at the entry level should change. We should be preparing our students properly when they get out. Give them the tools and techniques so they can later evolve. That means technology, history in our field, practical design, object sense and at least BASIC technical skills. Ask yourself this, are you getting this information at your school? You should be. After you learn all of this you will have an education. You will have the tools to succeed. Whether you succeed or not is up to you.

SNAG. I have problems with SNAG and ACC. So does everyone. We all have complaints about this or that. Hey man that is life. I am not saying don't do anything about it. The first step is actually going to these things. If you don't go you don't know. Second, its your dime. You paid to go why would you want to be miserable the whole time. Third, some of us are tying to make the best of it. It only takes one apple to spoil the bunch. This past conference all I heard was "this sucks", "the drinks cost more than my hotel room","Why is the pool in the lobby?" etc etc etc. I have news for you wait till you are not a student and have to pay for everything yourself. I bet you wish you hadn't been such a pain in the ass back then. Matter of fact I bet you wished you paid attention more and participated while it was free.

If I were going for the first time I would observe, absorb and process then make a comment. You can't comment on something you just walked in on. Its like jumping onto a sinking ship and yelling "FIRE!" everyone will jump off the boat. Then where will we be? In a huge ocean called life with no communal way of going forward and no structure to carry us. We don't want SNAG to disappear. I don't want SNAG to disappear. I think we just want it to evolve.