On the pleasure and value of making things

By | May 20, 2012

From the Juniper Moon Farm blog entry titled My Accidental Manifesto:

And it all left me feeling a little…hollow. I worked my rear end off at my job but I had nothing to show for it at the end of the day. I like to say that network news is like golf- nobody cares what you did yesterday. The accolades were amazing but they disappeared so very quickly. There was nothing to hold on to, nothing tangible that I could pick up and hold proudly over my head while proclaiming “I made this!”


To influence culture, fail at being an artist

By | February 5, 2012

This is an interesting follow up to the recent reflection on the life of Johnny Otis.

I think those artists who have been pludging along and doing really interesting things either in their communities, in their businesses and their daily life have much more effect on the general culture than those who work only within a vertical trajectory.

Karen Atkinson via GYST-ink

By “vertical trajectory,” Atkinson is referring to artists who push to get into a gallery, get some sort of breakthrough by making it onto the cover of a magazine and become the next big name — the idealistic ideology most art students begin their careers aiming for. She points out rightly as well that even gaining this kind of notoriety doesn’t put you in front of all that many people. The art world is a fairly small group relatively speaking.

So it’s easy to see why Atkinson, who’s worked and taught in the art world for 30 years, believes artists who are “failures” can have a more significant impact on culture than the Jasper Johns and Christos of the world (By “failures” she means artists who won’t make the front page of an industry journal or the New York Times.).

A successful artist isn’t bitter

By | January 28, 2012

Sarah Thornton, author of Seven Days in the Art World, talks about the definition of art, what makes a successful artist and why she’s glad she is not an art critic. This short, meaty video is worth watching.

2011 SCAD deFINE ART guest Sarah Thornton from SCAD on Vimeo.

Video via Savannah College of Art and Design’s deFINE ART series.

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Johnny Otis, arts catalyst

By | January 21, 2012

Musician Johnny Otis died this week.

I can’t say that I’d heard of Otis bofore this week, but I had heard of some of his finds, so to speak, such as Etta James (who, coincidentally, also passed this past week). “Otis spent as much or more time developing the talents of others,” according to an NPR story about his life.

As much as I want to be creating my own artwork, I want to help others cultivate their creativity more — something I realized a few years ago at the 2009 IAM Encounter conference. Of course, in order to be that help I feel that I need to keep up with my own work as well.

We live in a culture that idolizes celebrity. People want to become famous, sometimes famous for anything. They want to gain — through legitimate means or not — renown among their peers, and everyone.

Of course, the Arts Center won’t be attempting to make famous artists as much as those that bear a good witness, bear fruit, live quiet lives and live in community, loving God and putting others before themselves. In the words of a recent article from RELEVANT Magazine, we need boring Christians.

Do I hope that the artists who come out of the future Scissortail Art Center gain some notoriety for their craft and their concepts? Of course. Will the Art Center attempt to produce the next Damien Hirst, no.

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Romans 9:21

Look at all those . . .

By | January 14, 2012

. . . potential artist studios!

Wait, stop! Can you just drop a few of those off for me please? The artists need them.

Sympathy for a barn

By | January 6, 2012

I’m worried about this barn.

It’s right across Highway 81 from Bruning, Nebraska. I drive by it a few times a year. It’s a big, beautiful barn just begging to be turned into a house or studio.

Instead, it’s sat unused as far as I can tell for the past ten years.

“Then will my creation be art . . . “

By | December 27, 2011

A new fiber implement has joined the Scissortail house! A used Ashford table loom came as a Christmas gift, and with it a book titled A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. The first page of content in the book contains the following:

I feel within an impulse, perhaps that divine impulse which has moved all races in all ages and in all climes, to record in enduring form the emotions that stir within.

I may model these emotions in clay, carve them in wood, hew them in stone, or forge them in steel. I may weave them in textiles, paint them on canvas or voice them in song: but whichever I do I must harken always to the song of the lark and the melody of the forest and stream and respond to the color of the rose and the structure of the lily, so that my creation may be in accord with God’s laws and the universal laws of order, perfect fitness and harmony.

Moreover, I must make my creation good and honest and true, so that it my be a credit to me and live after I am dead, revealing to others something of the pleasure which I found in its making.

Then will my creation be art whether I be a poet or painter, blacksmith or cobbler, for I shall have labored honestly and lovingly in the realization of an ideal.

C. Valentine Kirby

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Do the arts need redeeming?

By | December 12, 2011

An article I read recently, titled Birmingham is not New York: 5 Cautions for Arts Ministry, warns that “The grandiose language of redeeming art is unhelpful at best.”

Almost five years ago now I wrote somewhat glowingly about a paper put out by the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. The paper was titled Redeeming the Arts. What I wrote amounted to a preliminary review and didn’t actually address any sort of redemption, but instead reaffirmed some very basic notions within the arts and for the role of artists.

Regardless, the recent article reminded me of the Lausanne title. And, as such, I’m wondering what the author of Birmingham is not New York is really responding too. He points out that the language of redemption has become “ubiquitous” among evangelicals referring to the arts, but he doesn’t really elaborate on why redemption won’t work for the arts.

The idea of redeeming the arts isn’t something I really feel the need to address, so I might actually be in agreement with the author. I’m curious to know what other people think, though, other Christian artists.

Do the arts need redeeming?

Quote from Grunwald Guild blog

By | November 19, 2011

That must be shared:

True contemplation always overflows into creation — it becomes a creative act.

- Beverly Lanzetta


Prairie validation

By | October 29, 2011

Two recent articles, one from the Smithsonian and one from The Curator, sing the praises of the prairie, something we love to do here at Scissortail too.

First, via Smithsonian Magazine, a biographical journey from New York City native Meghan Daum about her move to Lincoln, Nebraska. From her article Home on the Prairie:

The Lincoln I love—the reason I stayed as long as I did and have returned nearly every year since—actually starts where the city limits end. Drive five minutes out of town and farmland unspools before you, replacing the car dealerships and big-box stores with oceans of prairie grass and corn growing in lock step rows all the way to the horizon.

Second, Nebraska native Matthew Miller’s reflection via The Curator Magazine, titled #NewNebraskaSlogan and a New Rhetoric for the Midwest. This one is chock full of wonderful quotes, including:

If mountains and oceans impress us with their vastness, I counter with the vastness of the sky and the plains—only on the Great Plains do you get a sense of the hugeness not of one particular geological formation, but of the world itself: earth and sky distilled to their essentials.

After tweeting numerous quotes from this wonderful little piece, Matthew also alerted us to a book we need to read by Marilyn Robinson titled Gilead: A Novel. In his opinion, it’s the best defense of the Midwest.

Take the time to read both of these this week via the above links.

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