“Inventing at its best is wild, playful, even undisciplined. Outside of the familiar. That’s how great art is made.”
It’s hard to believe it is the 8th and final week, in many ways it seems like it’s been far longer than that, in other ways it feels like I am just getting my footing here. If you’re reading this, you have likely been checking the blog from time to time so I won’t recount events the group has taken part in. Just know that they were incredibly informative, often overwhelming, but most importantly rare experiences I would never have had the privilege of taking part in be it not for the Windgate ITE residency. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in our time here, I know we are all grateful.
When we first divvied up the dates for the weekly blog entry I think I was still drawing furniture. I was confused, overwhelmed, and completely bewildered by the collections we were seeing, the people we were meeting and what I was doing here.
A lot has changed since those tentative first weeks. Although I still search for more meaning in the work I choose to make I have been learning (at times the hard way) to embrace the playful space that exists in the uncertainty. I would like to thank the other Windgate ITE residents, they dared me to work beyond my place of comfort, largely on my approach to making as a whole. It has been a refreshing experience, and a longed for challenge that commissioned furniture work had not been satisfying. It will continue on long after this residency concludes, it is not something that can be fabricated, but an understanding of ones self and why we choose to make.
I will need time to process all that has happened over the last time warped eight weeks. I know I am still confused, overwhelmed and bewildered by all that has happened, but I think that was the whole point, and that’s what I was doing here. The work created here is secondary to the growth that is fostered here.
3 days left, so much still to do, Yuri puts it better, “still so much fun to do.”
Thank you for following our adventure
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.
– first of all: it was very exciting when i learnt that i had been selected for the residency. Being based in Ghana, it was like another recognition of my work. This is very strong and powerful as around me, in Ghana, the recognition is quite low.
– in Ghana, going to the States is a dream for a huge majority of the people. I had already been there so i was concentrated on the residency itself and all i could learn and teach/show to my fellow residents.
I had first the idea of making an installation: this is actually one direction i would like to take for developing my work as an artist. Inspired by artists like Ai Wei Wei, Alfredo Jaar or Nam June Paik and motivated on subjects like environment issues, deforestation, terrorism.
– when i arrived, i was amazed by all i could learn during this residency. I was very impressed and a bit lost with many opportunities. I would like to do everything but have to chose. I jumped from an environment where people hardly use basic electric tools and are facing basic and daily difficulties (ie. electricity, communication problems, etc) to another one where i felt like having the potential to experiment and learn everything i could imagine related to wood work.
– yes: the residency gave me the chance to discover and experiment at once different techniques, use of different tools, and – maybe the more important – to meet and discuss with different people (artists/collectors/management of ITE) all passionate with wood work… while in Ghana i do not know anybody who really share this passion. In Ghana, the people you know who are in wood work hardly take their job as a passion but only as a means to make their living. Most of them ready to jump to another occupation. And i am very passionate with what i do.
– at this point in time, i am still a bit confused – there should be a better word than “confused”- with so many options.
Among others, i am willing to thank the Center for Art in Wood and all the people who made that possible. One of my greater wishes is to organize other/more residences in Teshie in order for me also to welcome foreigners and show them other ways of working and living… all that is about exchanges between people / artists who are curious and willing to understand each other. It is all about breaking barriers and fighting/struggling for better comprehension between different cultures. i have found out that art and cultural projects can be perfect tools for that as weapons against racism, segregation, discrimination and feeling of superiority… that are the main causes of wars and misunderstanding in humanity. This is also the way i see my role as an artist. And definitely this residency confirms me in this position. That’s also why i am grateful.
Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop