One of the many joys of living in the Philadelphia area, is the fact that I have the opportunity to easily and conveniently visit the PMA Contemporary Craft Show every fall. For those of you who are not local, or who are local but who are not familiar with the art world in any way, PMA stands for Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The cost for one ticket is $18 and the show is normally showcased in the Pennsylvania Convention Center on 11th and Arch Streets.
I tend to get very, very overwhelmed by things like “conventions,” and “workshops,” and “symposiums,” and “fairs;” and the space in the convention center is quite large and astounding. However, for this particular fair, I have never felt anxious or overwhelmed. The feel of this craft show has a very peaceful, studious, introspective, inspiring, personal, and artists-silently-unite kind of vibe.
Every past year that I attended, I usually left with a list of multiple artists whom I had fallen in love with (not personally of course, but in terms of their work). Also, this is one of the only places that I have found that celebrates “the rapture of the tiny” in more ways than one.
THE RAPTURE OF THE TINY
The following artwork has nothing to do with the craft show, but rather is a visual explanation of what is meant by “the rapture of the tiny”—a characteristic that is certain to be experienced at the craft show.
“My atelier,” 5.1”(W) × 4”(L) × 7”(H), by © Dollhouse Ara
Detail of “My atelier,” 5.1”(W) × 4”(L) × 7”(H), by © Dollhouse Ara
There is something so irresistible about tiny things in tiny worlds. Observing an object or scene within a miniature framework can feel almost transportative (I invented this word, but here I think it is quite apropos). One can almost escape into a seemingly delicate and more innocent existence, if only for a few moments, like a parallel holographic universe, where everything looks the same, but is maybe just a bit more perfect than our actual, alarmingly authentic realities.
Woodland Moss and Fern Terrarium in Large Glass Jar, by DoodleBirdie on Etsy. I have a bit of an ethical problem with terrariums, but boy are they wondrous to behold.
Maple Bonsai tree, by Walter Pall. This is more like it. Out in the open, and much more natural and breathable than a terrarium. Can you just imagine a small wooden swing hanging down from one of those branches, and children playing hide and seek with each other, nestling themselves among those knotted roots? I will forever be enchanted by all things miniature.
I bring up the miniature factor because without fail, whenever I visit the PMA Craft Show, I come across breathtaking works of art constructed in miniature form. The delicate skill, painstaking attention to detail, and the masterful manipulation of tools and materials, is truly what the craft show is all about. I am an artist, but not really a crafts-person, so I love stepping over the artistic line of demarcation to pay homage to my fellow creators. They are incredible, and worth $18 and a few hours of your fall morning / afternoon.
The artist / craft-genius who stands out the most for me, whom I have followed over the years since I first saw her work at this craft show, is a porcelain ceramic artist named Ingrid Bathe.
Mugs by Ingrid Bathe
Stacking Bowls by Ingrid Bathe
Teacup and Saucer by Ingrid Bathe
Cereal Bowls by Ingrid Bathe
For some reason, her work moves me greatly. I really do not ever feel much of a connection to three-dimensional artwork of any kind; but the delicate nature of these porcelain objects always stirs something within me. They are all one-of-a-kind and yet made of the same stuff, like people and snowflakes. Her pieces for me, combine all of the elements of the earth in a visceral, yet heightened and ethereal kind of way:
- WATER = Pale blue, flowing, and feminine aesthetic
- AIR = Delicate, thoughtful, and contemplative
- EARTH = Porcelain clay
- FIRE = Objects are heated to 2,150 degrees in the kiln
I have purchased several of Ingrid Bathe’s pieces as gifts for other people over the years (not cheap, but worth it) and would LOVE to receive one of her pieces as a gift! Hint, hint to the universe. Ingrid Bathe’s distinctive style, in a word (actually two words), is a brilliant example of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi.
“To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood to his very core a deep cultural thread known as wabi-sabi. Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. In Japan, the concept is now so deeply ingrained that it’s difficult to explain to Westerners; no direct translation exists.” Quote obtained from here
Here is my (I would say somewhat successful) attempt at some wabi sabi photography…
© Libby Saylor
© Libby Saylor
© Libby Saylor
© Libby Saylor
If you are in the Philadelphia area, this 41st Annual show runs from Thursday, November 9th to Sunday, November 12th. You do not need to know a thing about art or crafts to be worthy of attendance. Simply take your body to the show and open yourself to its wonder. This is a perfect chance for all goddesses, of all makes and models, to breathe in the beauty of this world and discover something new, inspiring, challenging, and beautiful.