WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN I MAKE?
For makers we have been working non stop for our upcoming markets for the 2023 Christmas and gift exchange season. Some of started early September if not so already in August. It is after all the one season to boost our income.
This year has been very challenging for me to know what to prepare, how much to make and will my craft compete with everything imported “FastFashion” offered right next to me inside the “handcrafted” market.
For years I have struggled with the unethical fashion Industry which has creeped in too fast in this religious mennonite community. Handmade or handcrafted items are no longer cherished by the majority and often seen as for the lower income class. Meanwhile factory made is so attractive and shiny and cheap… who, specially a Mennonite wouldn’t always go for the cheapest and shiniest objects? I see this obsession specially with my mothers generation who grew up making clothes from flour sacks and reused and recycled everything due to living so far from the modern conveniences. I highly doubt they were conscious as their acts were incredibly impressive and what we say these days “an act of resistance” to the modern convenience.
As I am learning more about my mennonite heritage, resistance was so much the reason they left Canada; well at least it is one way of staying positive about the migration for me. Over the past century how much of that has changed and I refer to the easy access of modern conveniences. I mean, it sure would be difficult to head over to El Paso and get all the Black Friday deals with a horse and buggy, right? My questions still hang around this topic as a modern contemporary woman who had the privilege to go to art school and learning how incredibly strong my forefathers were. Was all of it religious? I know my mother would not wish to go back to her childhood and work on the corn fields from dawn to dusk, just to go back home to milk some cows and prepare dinner and so on… actual fact!
My mom is one of many who have left that era behind and she relates unconsciously to handmade items as for the one who can’t afford to go to El Paso. Back in the day it was a survival job and not a resistance hobby. Her privileged contemporary daughter now is so curious why so many of the traditional crafts and arts have vanished, not been conserved and for the most part: forgotten!
As an art student I did not fit into the urban metropolitan young hip art students in Vancouver. I was mostly spaced out with the assignments and created whatever I could understand. It was a double face era for me dealing with heavy culture and religious questionings. I was very lonely! I was also born highly sensitive and talented, often applauded for my talent which kept me investing in studying art, believing the arts are important and can save the world. Furthermore, investing in a ceramic studio and learning new things everyday to make my work stand out and desirable. The later has consumed my past decade. It’s a mental and physical challenge everyday to continue. Through all this I have been intrigued how Mennonites and Mexicans have supported me.
Many modern wealthy Mennonites and Mexicans as most of the world have truly allowed the American Hollywood influence their consumer choices. If a. product is not of the latest trend or doesn’t look “machine made” your humble handmade product is out. Consumers seem to have little interest in tracing back to the origin of the product, what is it made of, who made it, why they made it… and so on. If Mennonites want to consume global products it would be helpful to open up to the world, educate, travel to the most vulnerable sites on earth or even right next door to our indigenous communities, which can be accessed with a horse and buggy or the latest 2023 SUV Mercedes. With technology in our hands there is plenty of material on this topic to read and educate ourselves.
It is so easy to preach and I am sick of it!
Preaching rarely changes the world, art making doesn’t change the world either and seen how the past half decade has divided communities or families of topics, how little we care for each other and the vulnerable it is enough to say IM DONE PREACHING because I do not know enough to understand to keep on!
BUT ONE LAST PREACH TODAY:
Oh how blessed we are with all the hundreds of plastic items decorating a space, tablecloths, plastic plates and forks just so woman don’t have to so many dishes… it truly gets to me because every consumption has a consequence and one of them is hurting us all: inhaling toxic fumes on a weekly basis from our local garbage dumbs being lit on fire every Friday. Out of sight, out. of mind?
My favorite childhood memory from family gathering was the best gossip happening while doing the dishes. I don’t know if it saves more water either…. you see I am too ignorant to keep on preaching. PREACHING HURTS! Learning educates.