On Friday past, I went to the Philadelphia Art Museum’s annual Craft Show. Now this isn’t your usual craft show with knitted tea cozies, outré Christmas decorations, and cute tchotchkes for the home. This is major art. The exhibitors were potters and metal workers, fabric artists and glass blowers, painters, fashion designers and jewelers, woodworkers and stone carvers. This was some major stuff–and more often than not far above my price range.
Yet it was all beautiful. At one point, I called over one of the women I was with to see these magnificent glass platters. The artist corrected me: what I thought was glass was actually wood. All his pieces were wood. Yet they were so translucent and brilliant and delicate that one would never first believe that they were wood.
Two fashion designers–at opposite ends of the “elegance” scale–were both kicky and inventive. Their dresses and capes and skirts and pants were flowing with ruched materials or angular draping. One woman painted gorgeous canvasses, part abstract/part folk art, and treated them so they could be use as floor coverings. Runners for hallways, area mats for large rooms. They were exquisite.
There was exquisite furniture and graceful pots, jewelry both elegant and extreme. There was a perpetual motion glass wine aerator and eyeglasses made of wood. There were graceful ceramics and fun metal sculptures. There was simply aisle after aisle in the cavernous Convention Center filled with magnificent works of human artistry.
And that was the true beauty of this collection. Hundreds of people from around the world were simply doing what they loved–creating things of beauty. How lucky one must be to be able to do what he or she loves as not their job but as their vocation, to be able to start the day with nothing and end up with something. For the artist does not go to work, he is always at work. He eats and sleeps and breathes his work. And while not all of these crafts were to my taste–though many, many were–all were to my liking. For something inside me loves the idea that human beings are a species that does create, and often creates piece not for their utility but for their simple and utter beauty.