Notes from the Ground: Values in the Eyes of the Artisan

Craftspersons/ Artisanal, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Notes from the Ground: Values in the Eyes of the Artisan

Frater, Judy

KEYWORDS YOUR VIEWS
When I hear about helping artisans, reviving craft, and intervention, questions that come to mind are who is defining the “problem?” For what reason do interventionists want to work with craft, and for what goal? If the answer is ‘because I like it,’ that is not enough. Because craft is made by artisans, and the quality of their lives will determine the sustainability of craft traditions. My real question is, have you asked artisans what they want? And then we get to the question of HOW to ask (If you ask, ‘you want more money, right?’ You will get the answer you expect). And then we get to the dilemma of education: you don’t know what you don’t know. Some time ago, I heard that someone assessing our design education program wrote, “If income after completion of the course is assumed to be a key measure of the impact of the course’s effectiveness (without considering aspects like confidence level, opportunity for young of the families to re-connect with craft etc.)…” So here, I must intervene. Assumption is usually risky. Would the National Institute of Design or the Rhode Island School of Design- or any educational program measure impact primarily by increased income of its graduates? Just asking. Our institute’s stated goals, at least, are not in fact primarily quantitative. So our task then is to develop a meaningful means of assessing the success of education for artisans, in terms of our stated goals and, more important, in terms of goals for artisans and craft traditions defined by artisans who have graduated from the program. In February 2018, we held a meeting of weaver design graduates to initiate this inquiry. I began by asking who felt they were successful. Almost everyone quickly raised his hand. So, I asked, what is success? And what do you think contributes to success? “Success is achieving goals; you need a goal. You need to know your capacity, what is good for you,” said Dayabhai. “Success is decision making power,” Purs...
This is a preview. To access all the essays on the Global InCH Journal a modest subscription cost is being levied to cover costs of hosting, editing, peer reviewing etc. To subscribe, Click Here.