28 January 2016

maker, thinker, viewer

Julian Stair, potter, gave a compelling and thought-provoking talk on Tuesday night here at Alfred. He decided, early on, that he would call himself a potter rather than a ceramicist or ceramic artist. He did admit that he might have picked "maker" but it wasn't invented yet as a descriptive term for artist. The picture above is from his website. I liked that he considered something like this as one work with five pieces. He talked about the plinth as working like a frame for a painting.

But then he dismissed conceptual art because all art has a concept. I started gallery- and museum-hopping in the 1960s so conceptual art has long been part of my world. How could he? Back to the maker business, can a maker do conceptual art? Must a maker make some thing? Can a maker do social practice?

Those thoughts filled my head for quite a while after the talk and I was glad to run into Michelle Illuminato and Laurel Jay Carpenter at the Collegiate. They can probably say maker, conceptual art, performance art, and social practice in the same sentence and not have a problem. Thursdays are one of my work days at the ceramics library so I was upstairs, looking at the current art journals and noticed the title "Conceptual art and the acquaintance principle" in the summer 2015 issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, by Louise Hanson. I hadn't heard of the acquaintance principle, the coining of which is credited to Richard Wollheim. "Judgments of aesthetic value, unlike judgments of moral knowledge, must be based on first-hand experience of their objects and are not, except within very narrow limits, transmissable from one person to another." (from his Art and its objects, 1980, p. 233)

So it's back to objects. Things. Makers. Winckelmann said to Clérisseau: Write as much as possible in the presence of the actual object and return to it if you have second thoughts. (quoted in Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson by Hugh Howard (Bloomsbury, 2006), p. 62) Kind of the acquaintance principle, applied to you and yourself.

Just a couple days ago, a good friend was describing a wonderful moonrise she'd seen the night before. She went on and on. On one hand, you indeed had to be there; on the other, I have often been dumbstruck by a view of the moon and don't mind reliving such an experience while an acquaintance is carrying on about her moonrise view.
Caspar David Friedrich