I have a vivid memory of my high school art teacher accusing me of getting someone else to do my homework. I can see the piece I’d made, in its black and white simplicity, and look of shock on her face that I’d produced something that was palpably good. I can also remember the inspiration that had struck me the night before, replacing the usual dread I felt before making something to hand in to She-Who-Believed-Me-to-be-Useless. I had seen the repeating pattern of overlapping leaf shapes in my head before I started to add them to the page.
it was probably my first experience of choosing to work with what I had rather than try and create something I didn’t have. I equate that with craft rather than art: in my imagining crafting takes tangible things and gives them new shape, whereas art creates out of nothing.
Right now in our world we are all being asked to innovate, to create new shapes for the ways we do things around here. We are being asked to craft our culture from the remnants of the old normal, pre- global pandemic. We are being asked to, as Sonya Renee Taylor puts it, “stitch a new garment… that fits all humanity and nature.”
In fact we‘ve been being asked to rise to this challenge for years, it’s just that the pandemic opened our ears to the call. It may be too late, but perhaps we might be less afraid to try if we remember we don’t have to create out of nothing, like the artist in my imagining, but can take the things that are still useful and redesign with these remnants.