Standing Up for the Arts
March is Youth Art Month, established by The Council for Art Education to emphasize the positive influences of visual art education. The organization raises funds to advocate for visual arts education for all children, encouraging funding for quality school visual arts programs for grades K through 12.
Even so, funding for school arts programs has been whittled away over the past decades, and it is important for those of us who care about the arts to step up when we can.
So I will be working with six students, one student each week, from Saint Francis, Saint Ann, Kaimuki Christian School, Midpac, Kaiser and Waldorf schools, teaching vital skills to those who have expressed an interest in jewelry design. For example, the child from Saint Ann’s wants to learn how to wire wrap jade, so we will teach him how to do that. Another child from Saint Francis wants to see how we cut the jade. Will be following their interests to help them express themselves through jewelry making.
It is important for me to nurture the next generation, as a way of sharing what has been passed on to me. I will always be grateful for the knowledge of hand-skilled techniques passed down to me by family and jade masters.
Sadly, due to automation, financial challenges and a lack of time, I feel that craftsmanship is dying and to make things by hand is becoming a lost art. We need to keep that alive the legacy of creating with hands, not machinery.
Having worked with both heritage and modern techniques, I believe that computers cannot replace hand craft in turning out specialized artistic work, especially with jade. It takes a lot of patience and the ability to read each stone to determine the best way to bring life to this living masterpiece.
Jade requires the human touch. Due to its hardness, you cannot use machinery on jade. To do so risks burning the stone.
Throughout the world, people are being replaced by computers. In Southern China, you no longer need to interact with a person for credit card or phone transactions at convenient stores and gas stations.
I cannot help but believe that by choosing machines over people, we are losing some of our humanity. I still believe that the beauty of the arts has the power to touch us emotionally, returning to us something that is being lost in today’s culture as machines have made humans more machine-like.
I am happy to share works of beauty with others, blessings of jade that allow us to connect to something real and organic, and to ourselves.