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The letter from the Editor of December's PCPolyzine is "I don't do cute" a defense of Cute Clay Creations. This is my response.
I'm the one who says "I don't do cute." That's my writing style. So this is a rebuttal to the Letter from The Editor of PCPolyzine and don't mistake being adamant for being angry. Anger is a mask for fear, pain and shame. Assertiveness and being adamant is just being sure of one's beliefs. Just getting that little brain massage out of the way first.
To support one style isn't to be AGAINST another. It's an admission of personal style and preference.
In the defense of ART over Crafty Cute I stand on everything I've written here in the last three years. Links to past rambles about this will be provided as relevance requires.
Art is personal creative self expression. Not all of our expressions are cute.
Cute is a characterization of what is. Cute often tugs on sentimental values shared by One Culture. For the artist starting out with polymer clay the perception received from most instruction books is cute is mandatory. It's not.
This is a ramble I wrote when folks of one belief system objected to some artists expressing their personal belief systems. There's no room for censorship here. If it's ok to do Santas then it's ok to do Goddesses. If it's ok to do cultural things related to Western European Christians, then it's ok to do Day of the Dead. I showed the statue of the Aztec Princess running a rope through her tongue to draw blood for the offerings to the God of Rain. It was a gift. It is not cute. It is anthropologically perfect and it's real. For me it holds more power than a "safe subject" that might not make folks wince.
Miniaturists are aiming for realism. There's portrait sculpting that looks like a real person. Then there are character creations, that are cute, but they are not realistic.
This is a statement of fact and not a moral judgment. A brick is a brick.
Market trends in the craft world tends towards a quick sentimental hit. There's tricks to being cute, books and books of Magma or Animie drawings will wax lyrical about the "kawaii" or the "too too cute" in Japanese cartooning. Large eyes, small chins, big heads, small bodies... just like babies. It's a trick. The colors that are cute are bright.
I get slammed for doing chop and toss with the colors of tissue, blood and bones. I'm told that my stuff is too scary. Hey, I'm not making my stuff for other's likes or dislikes. That's opposed to the whole concept of personal self expression.
These sculptures were the first items I made with chopped sheets with mirror images. They all came out looking spooky. In fact, in 1999 when these were shown the list was a bit taken aback. I think that the list is now more open to weird sculptures so I've dug these old pictures out to share again. More "What's the Point?" nattering at the bottom of that page.
We have this discussion or debate over and over until folks come to know that
(1) to be FOR something isn't automatically to be AGAINST something else
(2) to say that I can't do a particular style doesn't mean I disdain the style I cannot do. I can't do surrealism either, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate Frieda.
(3) anyone here on CITY-o-ClayPictures list knows when something is cute, I'll go "Awww, what's not to love?" along with everyone else, for if an emotion was evoked from me by a claymate's work they need to know. For a gage on their effectiveness.
(4) anyone can do a live webcam demo, of any subject or technique that's out there. If someone who does do cute wants to share technique and put up tutorials for the claymates, be my guest. I can't do it, it's just not me. I have over 100 megabytes of what I can and will do, that's the best I can offer the public for free.
I'm here to nurture and develop artists. Each person on this list will have a distinct and personal style. If their style is cute, that's who they are and they are supported. Everyone's first efforts are the most precious to me even before they've discovered their personal creative style for it's the effort of beginning the work that's important to me.
I reserve the right to do spooky stuff, Goth stuff, stuff that might show pain or sorrow or grief. I reserve the right to do erotic art and have dolls with dicks because that's my personal creative self expression and I'm all for following my BLISS in that Joseph Campbell sort of way.
And I'll go boxing to the floor to defend all the list members of that same sort of freedom of expression.
For Goth Artists, for post Apocalyptic Visionaries, for those who are drawn to subject matter that is NOT seen in ANY books on polymer clay or miniatures this is the only roadhouse on a long and lonely journey. I'm the bartender here and the specialty of the house is no censorship. Also there will not be the Tyranny of the Cute either.
I refuse to be intimidated by the vast number of clayers who do like cute and find my work spooky and scary and who've made my artistic life one that in response has become more and more assertive.
I assert the right to create what I create. Other's have that right too. There's more to clay than cute.
In the world of the miniaturist "cute" only goes so far. Realism goes further. Our tasks as miniaturists is to get a realistic wood grain, faux gem stone, original doll sculpting that doesn't look like a "by the kit character face", but it looks like your relative, just like you intended. My job here is to provide technique to capture, realistically, that thing in miniature with polymer clay...
and that includes more than cute.
So cute freaks, if we go off and start doing spooky stuff, go Goth, do old age faces that are full-sized and realistic, do ghosts and vampires, don't go freaking out thinking that your work is diminished. Give us space to express ourselves freely and if any of us say... "I don't do cute" it's not a slam
it's just a statement of fact.
For more on the difference between miniaturists who use polymer clay as part of their tools and polymer clay artists who claim not to be miniaturists, read this ramble....
"The myth of "Polymer Clay People being One Family.": and how this is moot at MSATClayArt"
There's lists out there that are less off topic. There's lists out there that don't deal with miniature issues of scale and realism and don't put claymates to the task of learning realistic portraiture sculpting. There's lists out there that will focus on things that are cute, quick and fairly easy. That's all good and has its place.
Where is there a list like this one? Where no matter what your belief system you have freedom of expression. Where you can be adult in your content and folks ain't going to faint. Where the teaching of realistic sculpting, that takes time, effort and a long term committment is offered, like our "Face Off" event. The Face Off folks are committed to the long haul for realism isn't something one can do by a kit, in an afternoon or week end, it ain't easy and it ain't quick but I'm committed to sticking it out with anyone who wants to learn.
This list is MSATClayART... emphasis on ART. Art isn't quick, simple or easy for we are pulling our images out of our bones, out of our own sensibilities, we are running after our subconscious muse with clay in hand aiming to capture it, what ever it is. No one expression will be similar to another for we are all individuals here with unique sensibilities.
I'm here to help you get a grip on your clay techniques so you don't slow down your quest by doing a blend with 24 passes on the pasta press, do it with 6 the Easy Breezy way. I simplify technique so you can get to the task of attacking your subject matter no matter what it is.
I just don't do cute. I'm not stopping anyone else in providing tutorials or webcam demos that will.
NoraJean Stone (formerly "Gatine ")
Owner of MSATClayArt
December 2, 2002
Monthly Highlights Since 8/2003
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