Whitney J. Marsden
Copper, sterling silver, nickel, bumble bee
So we all have a responsibility to do our part for the environment, right? That much we know, but how far do we go? Are you on top of the basics like recycling, being more energy efficient, or perhaps you have a fuel efficient car? Or do you go above and beyond with a more proactive approach? Perhaps you research sources of materials, buy from companies that have similar ideals, write your congresspeople about environmental issues, get involved in the community to have a greater impact, or perhaps you pass the message along by educating others. The question: "what is enough?" plagues me both as a citizen of the human race and as a craftsperson. It is now when I'm at the pinnacle of pursuing my goals that I find myself evaluating my methods.
As artists and designers, we never want to compromise our vision over something so like materials. The idea is to do it the way it is meant to be. However, as manufacturers, is it not our responsibility to always produce in an ethical manner? Materials, tools, and equipment used in creating our work are all involved in the end result of what we create. Regarding this, there are many questions that come up for me... Is it enough to dispose of jewelry making acids, chemicals, and gasses in an environmentally friendly manner or is the pure fact that I'm using them creating more unnecessary waste? Do we as jewelers have a responsibility to consider the sources and methods of acquiring our metals, stones, and other jewelry-making materials (a big one for me)? For that matter, is creating jewelry and other potentially disposable crafts wasteful? What is a realistic contribution to make amidst busy lives and other commitments? Should we strip our lives down to the barest necessities to make the lightest impact in order to get by? I don't think so. There has to be a compromise where creating good design in an ethical, environmentally aware manner contributes, rather than takes away (more about this another time). Then there's the endless amount of people out there who are not doing anything positive for the environment either for lack of education, resources, or caring... what is our responsibility in regards to them?
As a craftsperson, my personal aesthetic is affected by my background and upbringing, my personal interests and hobbies, and a subconscious absorption of the trends around me. My commitment to myself is to honor who I am as a artist and to not create things simply because...
I suppose depending on the person, to create can be very personal, it can be a means of communication, or a bit of both. If communication though, what importance is the message? I create because I love to, but I share it because I hope 1) it will make someone smile because they enjoy it, and 2) it will provoke thought about things in a simpler, more natural way, and perhaps connect people to nature, even just for a moment. I'm not so naive or arrogant to think that what I make will change a life or the world, but making is what I enjoy so I ought to be conscious of my message, whatever that may be. After all, if I'm going to say it, why not SAY IT?! Perhaps opening oneself up for criticism is too much. Perhaps.
Change is often difficult and dare I say inconvenient, especially after we've been doing things the same way for so long. I hope for radical change in the way we as a country handle these issues because I feel it's necessary right now, but to what extent am I willing to go, I'm not sure yet. At this point, what I do in my personal life and what I create as an artist is one in the same. Therefore my goal in all aspects of my life, is to be educated and not turn my head in light of "knowing better" for simplicity or ease. I know I'll make mistakes and I know I'll also need to make compromises, but I'm learning and I'm committed. I hope to find that middle ground between absolute sacrifice and living a productive, enjoyable life.
Please express your thoughts on what you think our responsibility is either as a comment here or an entry on your own blog. Thanks for reading my thoughts, I looking forward to reading what you have to say.