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Clever Hands


My husband and I took a little pilgrimage up to Vancouver earlier this week to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery, where they have an exhibit called Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art.  When we moved up here to Seattle three years ago we quickly fell in love with Pacific Northwest Native American (or First Nations, as they are called in Canada) art.  The Haida are especially extraordinary artists as this exhibit demonstrates.  The Haida people live on an archipelago in Northwest British Columbia called Haida Gwaii (Or Queen Charlotte Islands as Canada still officially calls them), a place I would very much like to visit.  The Haida are a thriving people active as artisans.

One thing that stood out for me in the exhibit is that in the Haida language there is no word for artist.  Everyone has leisure time to craft and create and everyone is expected to express themselves in this way.  For some who are especially gifted, the title “Clever Hands” is given.

It got me thinking about how much the word “artist” is loaded in our culture and what kind of freedom we might experience to create if we rid ourselves of the baggage of that title, had more leisure time, and the support and expectation from our community that we would use our free time to create beauty in the world.

If you didn’t have to live up to the word artist, what ways would you be drawn to create?  How are you feeling invited today to craft beauty in your corner of the world? 

-Christine Valters Paintner

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