Time is passing and the deadline for the Blue Ridge Show will be here before I know it. The problem is, what I weave for the show must be a masterpiece. Nothing less will do. Thinking this way turns the whole thing into an ego trip. That is not good for my weaving. That is not good for me.
I had never read anything about this phenomenon until a few days ago. In a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal an article by Terry Teachout called "Importantitis, Enemy of Art" appeared (Feb. 16-17, 2008). In this essay, Teachout wrote of the problem artists develop if, instead of working regularly and consistently to produce works, they try to produce "the" great work. "The" great work could be a novel, a movie, a piece of art.
He does not mention weaving, but it could just as easily be a piece of weaving. What happens to the artist when he focuses on creating this masterpiece, is that either he ends up producing nothing at all or what he does manage to produce is worth very little.
The problem seems to begin, according to Teachout, when the artist does produce, quite unwittingly, a great piece, a masterpiece. Bernstein's "West Side Story" and Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane," are two of the classic works he cites.
Having produced a major work, a masterpiece, the artist tries to produce another masterpiece. He has savored the joys of having created a masterpiece, revels in those joys, and wants to re-create that all over again.
I especially like what Teachout says about George Balanchine, a great and prolific choreographer. "..Balanchine...went about his business efficiently and unpretentiously, turning out out a ballet or two every season. Most were brilliant, a few were duds, but no matter what the one he'd just finished was like, and no matter what the critics thought of it, he moved on to the next one with the utmost dispatch."
A bit later, Teachout adds that Balanchine "...saw himself as an artistic craftsman whose job was to make ballets." I particularly like Teachout's choice of words "artistic craftsman" and "job."
To read the entire piece by Teachout, go here.
It is not always easy to keep the focus on one's work and off of oneself. It is especially difficult for me when I want to weave something for show. I have found that having three pieces going, at very different stages, is very helpful to keep my focus on the work instead of on me.
To learn more about my three-piece process, go here and here.