Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Posts Tagged ‘Center for Maine Contemporary Art

Work of the Hand

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Recently I was invited to take part in a show called “Work of the Hand” at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Maine.  The exhibit showcases the work of fine craftsmen from all over the state and I’m honored to be a part of it.  Over this past week I was able to complete two new small panels to include in my “Leaf Series”.  As I mentioned in my last post, I want to focus on emphasizing the black lines, to make them a more prominent element of the design.  Much of my interest in this was sparked by my work on an early Tiffany window at the studio where I do restoration.

 

The studio is on the 4th floor of an old mill just outside of Portland.

 

Here’s a detail of the original lead used in the Tiffany window.  R. and I are the first to handle it since its creation over a hundred and twenty years ago!  The layering is most unusual and adds an interesting dimension to the window.  

 

 “It’s like the original craftsman is looking over our shoulder while we work,” R. said.

 

So inspired, I took the idea another level, layering up as well as out.  Here’s the result in reflected light.  

 

 

Only on close inspection do you detect this sculptural element in the window.  

Here’s the same piece in transmitted light:

 

 

 The result is a strong graphic quality, an effect I want to continue to explore.

In preparation for the show, I had to come up with prices for my work.  I’ve struggled these past few days trying to decide on just how to do that.  What is the value of my work?  It’s a question every artist faces, never easy to answer but one worth returning to from time to time.  I consulted friends and family, and that helped somewhat but ultimately I had to make the best decision for myself.  I want my work to sell but not at the lowest possible price.  As R. would say, “Underpricing is just a race to the bottom.”  I can charge a good price for my materials and labor but that covers only part of its worth; there’s also the spiritual and emotional value, which may resonate with one person but not another.  Yet how does one place a concrete value on an abstract experience?  

The night before I had to deliver my work to Rockport, I took these pieces down from where they hung in my home.  I’d been looking at some of them for nearly a year, waiting to find the right venue for display.  So many evenings I’d return from work to find the 6:00 sun had thrown their colors on an adjacent wall, where they shimmered for a few short minutes before their colors vanished with the shifting light.  So many days I woke to the pieces glowing against the morning sky.  So many afternoons while I pondered a nagging question about my future, my eyes wandered along their lines until I forgot the question at hand.  I’ve grown to love these windows.  I took such care in their making, in every curve of the their lines and with such love for the color and texture of the glass.  Now that I’d cut them free and packed them for delivery, the windows in my home seemed so empty.  I would miss these pieces if they sold.  But I certainly hoped they would.  What’s more, I hoped that whomever might purchase them would find their own comfort in the designs, their own pleasure in the hidden details.

Suddenly finding the right price didn’t seem so hard.  To experience the value of my work first hand, to honor the time and energy I’ve spent in its creation is key to understanding its monetary worth.

The opening for the show is this Friday.  Even if nothing sells, I’m happy to have had to opportunity to display them and I feel better at having answered by own question of “What’s the value of my work?”

 

Three pieces in the stairwell of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

 

 

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Written by Janie

October 9, 2008 at 9:17 am