Alright Craftivists and future Craftivists, the time has come for your first challenge! In order to get you in the creative mindset, it is good to know what your purpose in creating is and how you intend to frame (not literally) your craftivism. In other words, what is your goal and what are the guidelines you will use to reach these goals? What constitutes art? How will you, the artist, be accountable for what gets put out into the world?
“To be an artist is not to be a member of a secret society; it is not an activity inscrutably forbidden to the majority of mankind… what is important is the oneness of man in making artefacts, not the abyss said to exist between a Leonardo and the average of mankind.”
I spent many years rejecting the identity of artist. I felt like it was defined in society as this elite and talent-based group, not something accessible to everyone. But yet, I felt so strongly in the powers of art that I experienced as a tool to learn and grow- the powers to empower, connect, and heal. In my senior year of college I spent many nights crying and running around the track, distraught because my idea of “art” clashed with some of my senior thesis professors’ idea of art. In my heart I believed that art was a way to bring people together, an experience rather than an object from a singular perspective.
Through a lot of determination and hair-pulling critiques later, I eventually defined art on my own terms instead of letting others dictate it. In a contemporary art theory class I took in the spring semester of my senior year, I learned about many artists who were using art in a way that set my soul on fire, that felt expansive rather than restrictive. Rirkrit Tiravanija, Yoko Ono, Miranda July, and Marina Abramovic to name a few. Click on their links if you are needing some inspiration.
For those of you thinking… “How is walking or sitting art? I walk all the damn time!” I bet you do. And I counter your question with this question- If you live your life with intention and purpose, how is that not a beautiful work of art?
I came to learn this notion of art as experience was called Relational Aesthetics or Social Interstice. “Drawn on Marxian language and repurposed by Nicolas Bourriaud in his text, “Relational Aesthetics”, the term social interstices refers to a space that facilitates human social interaction. Marx refers to the term interstice as a pocket of trading activity that stands outside the capitalist framework. Similarly, social interstice as Bourriaud uses it references a similar defiance of the dominant system. In this case, social interstices are those spaces of free interaction that provide opportunities for social engagement outside of the norm.” (source)
You can redefine the norm by reclaiming your ability to act in any given situation, or what sociologists refer to as your agency. Of course it’s important to acknowledge there are factors that limit our ability to act and this is where recognition of privilege comes in, including using that privilege, if present, to create spaces to elevate those who have less access to act. Relational artists can build platforms that open the stage for dialogue so that others may begin to understand experiences different from their own. It’s takes vulnerability and redefining that vulnerability to reveal the strength, beauty, and truth in those spaces. You have the power to create meaning from your personal narrative. Know it. Make it.
So now for your challenge.
Think of your life as a non-profit. Write down your mission. Your mission is how you want to exist in this world.
Then your man-or-woman-or-genderisasocialconstruction-ifesto follows.
“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”
These are the agreements upon which you will strive to reach that existence in your mission. Your manifesto can look very different from someone elses’. Remember you’re defining your own narrative. What’s your purpose and how will you live that out each day?
Here is a link to the Womanifesto I wrote, but remember- You do you! And the world will be much better for it.
Your partner in resistance,
Co-founding craftivist, builder, and climber of mountains