Earlier this week Orna wrote a blog post about snobbish and close-minded attitudes in the needlepoint world. They make her mad and they make me mad as well.
Orna rightly points out that far too many people in needlepoint are concerned about following the rules. Far too many teachers concern themselves more with imposing the rules than with inspiring people to love needlepoint. Far too many shopowners turn new stitchers away because their work isn’t perfect or because they bought a stamped canvas at a garage sale.
I find snobbery, as Orna did, all around me in the needlepoint world. It’s in the professionals who look down on people different from them, whether in dress, hair, taste, or training. This is in spite of the fact that they know perfectly well that much great art and great needlepoint comes from those who aren’t like them (‘outsiders’ in art world terminology). I find it in shopowners who don’t work hard to encourage new stitchers. I find it in stitchers who have been so conditioned that there is a “correct” way to do every blessed thing in needlepoint that they are afraid to take a stitch or pick out their own colors.
I have a news flash for you — art doesn’t have hard-and-fast rules, it has techniques. It has principles. It has guidelines.
Following these rules can make your work more beautiful or more skillful. But not following them can open new worlds. Here’s a little story to illustrate this. Let’s think about Picasso. You’re thinking of something like the picture above. But did you know that the picture below is also a Picasso? Yes, he could draw conventionally, and very well. He chose to break the rules and many see this as the beginning of his great art.
Could he have followed the rules and made a living? Probably, but no one can deny that he did OK by following his non-conventional path. What can we, as stitchers take from this?
Being freer, less rule-centered, less snobbish about our art, and needlepoint is art, helps us.
Why then do we hold onto our close-minded attitudes and close ranks against the new, young or different so strongly?
I’m with Orna, it doesn’t do us one lick of good.