Monday, August 26, 2013

Art is an Integral Part of a Society and Culture

There are some cultures where there is no word for art because it is such an integral part of everyday life.

Cobb Oven 
Local South Carolina Clay and Rock 

 For our ancestors it was certainly that way.  We do not have to look very far back in our past to know this is true.  During the time I have been my Asheville studio this summer I am surrounded by fine crafts everywhere I go.  Asheville is a virtual center of fine craftsmen.  Not only Asheville, but the highland areas of the Blue Ridge and Smokies.  Clay and a variety of hardwoods are readily available here.  It is not difficult to raise sheep and Alpaca for wools to weave and knit clothing with.  Making pottery was an essential function of a village or town in earlier centuries with no factories to mass produce goods.  When I was teaching young children art I would often try to get them to think about why people made what they made and why they used what they used to make it with.  Children understand things that are explained to them in a simple way at a level that make sense to them.  When I explained why the aborigines of Australia used black,white, browns and ochres..they understood, that that was what was available, what was around them. The white aborigines used was naturally occurring chalks in the environment, clay in the ground, and black made from the coals of fire.  Nor was it hard to explain to children why they made dream world pictures or X-ray drawings (something children do naturally).  So here in the Blue Ridge and much of the Eastern United States clay, wood, and wools are easily found. 
Local South Carolina Stone is good for building ovens,
fences and houses
 Pots were made for cooking, wood was turned or bent for bowls and furniture, wools and cottons for clothing, iron worked for hinges and horses shoes.  Since things were not mass produced but made by the individual creativity and skill entered into the picture.  

Local Clay mixed with sand and straw shaped into a dome shape.
Aaron and Susan with friends took their shoes off and barefoot stomped clay and straw together.
With a little wine and friends all it can actually be more fun than work.

We have been removed from living with our arts closely in the same way as our ancestors, functional arts that is.  There is a resurgence among younger generations to bring back arts that were a functional part of everyday life and to return to a simpler life of growing and harvesting their own food sources.  As our food supply becomes less trustworthy people are turning to other

Susan sets the table as we get ready to sit down for meal made from their garden cooked in their handmade Cobb oven. Growing your own food and making your yard a productive garden no matter where you live is a growing trend.Living simpler, depending more on your own resources and local sources is another developing practice.It is all healthier for us, better for the community and the planet.
 Recently I spent an evening with my nephew Aaron and his wife, Susan.  I thought you might be interested in an up close look at two young people who are choosing to live closer to the land, depend more on themselves, and looking at how all this brings art back into an integral part of living. Aaron and Susan also write a blog/newsletter about their experiences that is well worth your while to check out and join!  It is Tyrant Farms.(just click for link)

Now a couple of hours later the fire is hot and the oven almost ready


Hard woods burn best 

Starting  about three hours before cooking, building up the fire and heat
can create a really hot fire over 1000 degrees.


I love this photo because it shows the driveway, car, and neighborhood behind the beans growing in the garden!
edible flowers
Squash peaking out

starting seeds from plant blocks

Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds coming soon!

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