“Art and Craft” Comments, Page 1

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4 Comments on “Art and Craft”

  1. Hi Evan,

    You bring up a subject that can be both satisfying and painful, sometimes at the same time. I noticed you included dance, as an example of proficiency at a craft instead of an art that many would classify dance.

    I realized there are a lot of those types of crossovers. When I was very young I learned to cook out of necessity. Yet, once I was cooking, I realized there were many doors I could open, places and things I could explore. Doors that could be the create-from-nothing expression I sought, the artist’s path.

    That’s one place where both the satisfaction and pain came from. I taught myself a lot about food, the related tools, ethnicity and many other aspects of cooking as craft. I had a lot of what if moments, too. I cooked in a professional capacity for many years, learned from others doing the same. As you pointed out, learned to turn out the expected perfectly turned widget. Working to that end can have its rewards, people can be more than appreciative in the effort of a lovely meal. I could do the work and know my effort and precision would work unfailingly, providing personal satisfaction.

    At the same time, the repetition could be deadening. I’d see the doors I wanted open, the art somehow removed the craft, freedom to take food from necessity, and even pleasure, steps beyond. I tried applying my skill in my personal life, thinking maybe that’s where I’d find my balance and outlet. Only to find I’d run into much the same wall as professional application. Did I aspire to be a famous chef? A cookbook author? Not necessarily. I also knew I could not repeat creating one more sit down dinner for 10 people in my home nor a formal celebration for 300, no matter what anyone got from it. Letting my desire go, to transition my craft to an art form was painful.

    It is an interesting and often frustrating dilemma, one I’ve struggled to resolve for myself time and again, and not only with a crossover art/craft such as cooking. If you figure out the way to an alternate path, please let us all know!

    All that said, cooking as a craft taught me a lot about a lot, not limited to food alone, and I am grateful to have done this work. I will always have everything I garnered and can continue to share the benefits as necessity or pleasure.

    Thanks, Evan, for another thought provoking article.

    Barbara

  2. Hi Barbara, thanks for sharing so much of your experience so well. To talk about the transition from craft to art I think I’d need to know more of the details of what you found painful. Also what you couldn’t do anymore – was it the repetition or had the result lost meaning for you too? Had you gotten what it was that you wanted and so a need was satisfied?

    Many thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Evan

    Some answers to your questions.

    I think the repetition became drudgery, maybe no challenge, or both. The phrase that comes to me is, doing it in my sleep. Not vaguely related to a dream. I’m going to have to presume this might be a personal issue for me, because it is not only this instance I have reached this point of cringing, don’t make me, I can’t do it again. Definitely painful. Both the idea of being forced into a box and seeing something go, having to let go, an activity that started out with enthusiasm, hope, good intent, potential. Next phrase I hear, is that all there is?

    More specific to cooking and your question, did I get what I wanted? I think the answer is ultimately no. I wanted cooking to be an additional thing I could do well but I’m not sure to what end, not necessarily THE thing I could do well. I guess I relegated cooking too much to necessity, I mean, ya gotta eat, right? Might as well be good if not great food. Can I say I mastered some stuff in cooking? Yes, of course. Did I have times of enjoyment? Yes, again. I even experienced being in the zone regularly, yet it did stop being a meditation at times. Did I come to some feeling of completion other than feeling stuck? No, not really, or at least no satisfactory end. Maybe because I still have to eat…

    As far as transitioning, now that I think about it, I guess I never really saw the brass ring. Maybe I needed mentoring to help me, possibly couldn’t find it? What did I want to do with this skill I had acquired? Again, maybe in direct relation to personal circumstances and desires. Not having found the art/craft/profession/goal I most wanted to master or specialize in, maybe I felt like cooking was second best? Pain then in still searching or the realization I may never find THE thing? You could call settling a painful aspect,too. It also doesn’t help when those on the outside observed or stated I should be grateful to be such a good cook, do something with that talent, as if the dinner they just enjoyed wasn’t doing something with that talent. Maybe expectation, mine or others, there needed to be something spectacular added a la Julia Child. Raised then to an art level?

    I don’t think I really answered your questions definitively, or as definitively as I would like. I think I wanted to hear the answers as well. Maybe I needed to delve a little deeper.

    Thanks for taking me a different direction here, Evan.

    Barbara

  4. Thanks Barbara. It sounds like you ended up at a dead end and no one was around to help you move things to the next level. Quite sad perhaps. Many thanks for letting us know about your experience.

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