We believe that participating in a society where the arts, including the “practical arts” are honored and valued alongside economic contributions and recognized as an integral part of a healthy community will create a culture that can withstand the divisive forces that arise as we advance into the future. We want to help find answers to the questions:
“By what means can a community find value in the expressions of each person’s spirit while providing for their physical needs? By what means can a person provide for themselves physically while creating a home for their spirit in a community of their fellows?”
The Artvark Foundation was born of an observation and a response.
Observation: culture is the fabric of civil society. Without its cultural underpinnings society becomes less civil and less social. And yet when a culture embodies corrosive elements a society born of that culture cannot but rot from within. What can be done to counter the trend of a society measured only by economic yardsticks and of persons valued only by their economic weight? How can people affect an evolution of culture that strengthens the human bonds we have woven together over generations of cohabitation while neutralizing the corrosive threads of equally ancient power struggles? By what means can a community find value in the each person’s spirit while providing for their physical needs? By what means can a person provide for themselves physically while creating a home for their spirit in a community of their fellows?
Response: exploring the art of living is the path to a life whose rewards are balanced between the social and the economic, the public and the private. When we are connected to the community by more than contracts and to the land by more than exploitation, we have a chance at evolving civil society. The arts which inspire those relationships marry the practical and the sublime, the traditional and the transitional: visual arts, agricultural arts, performance arts, literary arts, textile arts, sculptural arts (including pottery) culinary arts, botanical arts, and the architectural arts (including furniture making). These “Practical Arts” are being lost or marginalized in the modern community. We call them “crafts” and consider them external to the cycle of daily life. People are losing touch with the awareness that a mass reproduced image printed in a factory thousands of miles away does not connect one to one’s community in the same way that a locally produced, handmade image does. People are losing touch with the awareness that a mass produced plastic chair from thousands of miles away does not engage ones spirit like a chair made of local materials by local hands. In both cases something is lost for the maker of the product as well as the user of the product. And over time that loss extends to the community and civil society is replaced by a collection of people competing for space and resources and whose interactions are governed by rules instead of relationships. Let us create a space where this exploration of the art if living is enabled and encouraged.