Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kicking ass .... or ..... not

Recently I did a mud run.  Apparently I'm not dirty enough on any given day.  It's really hard to tell how you are doing during the run because the starts are staggered and I was just trying not to end up dead.  Basically the race is  just this mass of humanity gasping for air and staggering through muddy obstacles for ... either glory or hours depending on your perspective.  Anyway, they put ( or you do ) a chip on your shoe so eventually you can find out how you did.  Unless, of course, you lose the chip in a mud puddle.  The results are posted on their web site.  Age, sex, overall place, place in age group, place in sex.  All the information and more than you could possibly want on a web site.  It turns out I came in 2nd in my age group ( a ten year span that I am right in the middle of ), 56th overall, and 21st in my sex.  I kicked ass.  And yes there were more than two of us in my age group and 328 total participants.  So there.  Pllllttt.
For pictures.  See if you can figure that out.

What, you say, does this have to do with anything?  Aaah, I'm glad you asked. 

Competition is an incredibly healthy and good thing under the right circumstances.  I'm not convinced, however, in spite of my previous admission to watching Project Runway, that it has any place in design. (wow, that was a messy sentence.) This is analogous to my feeling that figure skating is not a sport.  I'm sure the skaters are athletes, but face it there is never an argument about whether the person who came across the finish line first won.  

For the designer, the hazard of being judged in a competitive way, is that it creates a distraction that diverts attention from a very personal evolution.  This is also the hazard of dealing with galleries to sell your work.  The judges have biases and the gallery owners have very specific goals.  Both are often in conflict with what is best for the designer/artist/....

I realize that I also have biases.  After all, I would rather be the mad potter of Biloxi George Ohr
George Ohr

 than Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

 or Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

Seriously.  I can live without the accolades and the cash, if I can end life knowing that I made some things well.   Made some things that were visually interesting.  Made some things that gave joy or comfort.  Art needs to make a statement about the human condition.  Design doesn't.   So maybe it is unfair to compare Ohr to Hirst or Koons, but not really. 

What is not fair is to compare one blacksmith to another.  To compare the accomplishments and the craft of one to another.  There are far too many variables and far too many possibilities.  We should find ways to admire the work of others, and to understand that we are searching for the same answers and reaching for the same goals.  

I was thinking that since I came in second on that mud run without training, that I should train and go for first.  I don't know if I will, but I do know that I will keep working at my craft.  I may never be the best, but I will always try to be my best.

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