The past few weeks of this residency have been like a roller-coaster ride – visiting museums, studios, and collectors’ houses was inspiring and sometimes overwhelming. The highlight, for me, was last Saturday’s tour guided by Mark Sfirri of the Wharton Esherick Studio. What an honor and privilege! We were all impressed and inspired by Esherick’s broad range of handcrafted objects, with flawless attentions to every detail. I daydreamed of living in his house, and dreamed about building one someday on my own.
This past week we were joined by scholar/journalist, Maggie Jackson. She has been working on a book about life styles finding reflections in craftsmanship and the process of making. The word ‘craftsmanship’ caught my attention and became a subject to ponder for days.
The definition of ‘craftsmanship’ in a dictionary might simply say something like, “The quality and skills displayed on a handcrafted object.” One often replies, ‘Oh, it’s not that simple!’ or ‘That’s not it there is so much more!’ – I could not agree more. Craftsmanship is a deep and subjective matter to talk about. When I think of it in Japanese, perhaps, ‘shokunin tamashii’ would be the closest word carrying the similar meaning with craftsmanship. ‘Shokunin’ is craftperson, and ‘tamashii’ is spirit. To me, craftsmanship is built upon a trained set of skills and sensitivity, hand and eye in particular. With personal pride and professionalism, one’s craftsmanship is carried throughout a process of making. It is displayed on a handcrafted object in the end, being mindful of every detail in every moment throughout the process in order to achieve our own greatness. I strive to get at what I can call ‘good.’ I adhere to it, the one place, which sometimes only makes sense to me, and not to others. Sometimes, compromises are necessary. Frustrations while carrying my craftsmanship along the way arise when head, hands, and eyes do not cooperate or are not meant to be worked out. Yet, I rather enjoy responding to it. Perhaps, only when all three resonate with each other, it creates a melody that soothes my mind. I feel satisfied and rewarded. After all, I simply love making things, using my hands, and working with wood. One’s own craftsmanship may be grounded by the depth of each individual, such as, a love of making things, respect for tools, and an appreciation for material. It inevitably displays our individual nature.
Last but not the least to mention, we had an open studio on Saturday. I would like to thank Albert, the staff, and those who have been supportive of this program, for providing us a chance to connect with others, and to share what we do. Thank you for all those who visited and shared their time with us. It was interesting to hear what you see and think. It was encouraging to all of us. The open studio left us feeling good about what we have explored, experimented and produced so far. Only one more week left. I have so many things left to do! Although the exhibition is not our final destination, it is a port at which we can take a deep breath. Please come visit the opening at the Center on Friday, Aug the 1st, to see how we will portray our journey.