Glenn Adamson Quote: “Of course, big corporations are just as adept…”

“Of course, big corporations are just as adept at manipulating the rhetoric of sustainability as young makers. But craft does have a special advantage. In the effort to promote more self-aware ways of living, the simple act of making by hand signifies direct engagement with an object, and therefore a degree of personal responsibility. Certainly, not every craft object is made sustainably; we have to get real about that. But the lesson of postmodernism is that the power of the image is not to be denied. It’s not enough to make things responsibly; we need to call on mass media to constantly remind the public of what responsibility might look like.” (023)

An excerpt from Glenn Adamson’s response to the questions: Is there a sustainability aesthetic? If so, how would you describe it, and which artists exemplify it?

“The Big Questions with Glenn Adamson: What Responsibility Might Look Like.” American Craft. Vol. 72, No. 02, April/May 2012. pg 023.


12 thoughts on “Glenn Adamson Quote: “Of course, big corporations are just as adept…”

  1. Love it! Thought provoking … hmmm … “simple act of making by hand signifies direct engagement with an object, and therefore a degree of personal responsibility.”

    A few thoughts. First, making things by hand isn’t necessarily a “simple act.” That phrase ignores skill and training. Think back to long arduous apprenticeships etc. that were common in crafts.

    Also, this comment reminds me of Marx – it’s been years since I read Marx & Engels, but I remember something about the commodification of work product, removing it from the hands of the maker. People, then, become cogs in its making, not a maker. (Think Chaplin’s “Modern Times.”)

    I better go get my first cup of coffee of the morning!

  2. I will admit that I don’t have time to read all the reactions to this post. So you will get my instant reaction based on my interpretation of aesthetic sustainability.

    Timeless pieces which can stand the test of time. For instance, when I buy wool for my shop, I don’t buy for the immediate in-fashion crowd. There are some useless fluffy yarns here to appease the minority of shopper’s who need fluff and sparkle. However, the on-going, timeless trend is to purchase yarn which will stand the test of time. We want yarn that can be washed, handled, and loved for at least two generations. I look at every project I knit as something to give to the next generation for their use. Then if the wool is good enough they can deconstruct to reconstruct. This is how you would do it in weaker economic times. When the sock is no longer of use, then you pull it apart and knit something else for someone else.

    Naturally I would love it if people would always have their Chico bag or something to carry away their goodies. So I opted for Kraft bags which are not coated. My logic is that when the bag is no longer pretty then the customer can recycle them for the garden. The red worms love to eat paper and it goes back to my tomato and pumpkin garden. I just emphasize this to my customers as much as I can so that they rethink how they use what they have. Earth day is every day.

    So I love that this was brought up because up until this morning I had not pondered the question of aesthetic sustainability nor would I have put those two words together. The bigger question is if our kids will know how to spell those words. The media does have a responsibility to show what this means, but to also use those exact words in large enough font. I love a good dollar word now and then 🙂

  3. Cass Nevada took the words right out of my mouth….Art can be practical too!!!, I like recycling or making something pretty that is also useful in my everyday life…great post!!!

  4. Sustainability and responsibility are thoughts that have been crossing my mind a lot in the past several months, but I’ve been pushing them aside and resisting quite a bit. It’s so easy to either ignore or justify our less-than-sustainable choices as consumers and also as artists, but giving up the current lifestyle of convenience is a scary thought indeed. Thanks for bringing these considerations to the forefront of my thoughts again; I hope to find a copy of the mag so I can read the entire article soon! I really enjoyed reading the post and the insightful comments from your other readers.

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