Sunday, October 31, 2010

Art Cliques

So I was surfing the other day and came across a web site I thought I might like to join in order to broaden my artistic horizons. It shall remain nameless, but it was a mosaic forum web site. I love mosaics and taught myself the basics (which, trust me are pretty basic) about 10 years ago now. Under the influence of my mentor, Jena Mafe, I gradually came to incorporate mosaic and the aesthetic that so fascinates me about them into my sculpture work. It took a bit of persuading on her part because I was fully aware that mosaicists tend to be a fairly conservative bunch and not keen on having their art from bastardised by other branches of the arts. So I came to terms with the fact that I couldn't really call myself a mosaicist any more. But I was very happy with my weird and wonderful incorporation of mosaic ideas in my work.

Anyway, not so long ago, I read an article by Sonia King, world renowned mosaicist, (who I once shared a tram ride and Vietnamese lunch with in Melbourne at a Mosaic Symposium). In the article she said that in order for Mosaic to be truly considered a fine art, mosaic artists need to be strong in artistic integrity and rigorous in the pursuit of excellence. She also says 'There are serious mosaic artists creating a commendable work today. Yet there is a lack of critical dialogue. Our numbers have grown so fast that, to some extent, we've become a closed circle...we don't think about how this is perceived outside the Mosaic community.' Later in the same magazine from which I took that quote (Mosaic Art Now No 3, 2010), I found an image of a beautiful art work by Pamela Goode (USA) which incorporated found objects, including fibre - a woman after my own heart.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I dropped in at the exhibition of the local chapter of MAANZ (Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand) not really intending to admit my crossing over to a hybrid form of the art, but prepared nonetheless to enjoy their fabulous pieces. I found the women looking after the exhibition overwhelmingly friendly and accepting, many of the pieces sitting on the border of 'true' mosaic and we ended up exchanging business cards.

Buoyed up by all of this, I confidently submitted my name to the aforementioned web site for vetting, thinking that membership was a Fait accompli given that I was neither a paedophile or serial killer. But this morning I got a message rejecting my application on the basis that 'it was not felt that I would find like-minded artists on this site'; this conclusion obviously drawn after a viewing of my website and not finding anything that resembled a traditional mosaic. If that means I won't find any other artists keen to learn from others, discuss the nature of our art form and be open to new ideas, then I guess the messenger was right. All of those artists have clearly been rejected like me!

So I would love to hear from any of you out there whose art work doesn't fit in a neat tidy box and from any of you who have been ostracized from a particular group or society as a consequence. Most of us are keen to support and encourage each other on this creative journey. Why are some people so married to the idea that creativity needs to be able to be classified?

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