The Life of a Dying Art

“You’re a hat maker? Now, that’s a dying art!” people say to me on occasion when we meet. There is a rich history of art forms dying as culture changes and today use of the term dying art is rampant, attached to an odd array of subjects from proofreading to stir fry, stenography, customer service, penmanship, kimono making, hanger flying, ballet, piano tuning, cursive and high school dissection.

The overuse of this sexy term does not dilute the powerful significance that art continues to hold, and though presently we are collectively experiencing expansive change, the death of various arts should not be feared or quickly assumed.

Today any finely expressed skill is often said to be art.  Art has become the catchall term for the best quality of work, referring to almost anything done with intention to do it well and with attention to detail and flow.  Placing a myriad of professional work on the same linguistic playing field as monumental paintings or sculptures indicates that artistic inclinations are common and seek various outlets.

Knowledge of 30,000 year-old Paleolithic cave paintings in France shines light to Homo sapiens’ longstanding drive to create art in the quest to bring greater significance to life. Art taps into an unspoken language and is a translation of the unseen to the seen.  No matter how many things are called art, it will always maintain a shimmer of mystery around it.  It holds an elusive yearning, an attunement to the sacred.  We talk about dying arts, not dead art because while form is tenuous, art is immortal.

There must be a reason for an art form to exist.  With the current rate of change in how people are working, communicating and spending their time, many modes of human expression are dramatically shifting.  If conveying one’s art, whatever it may be, is part of living a meaningful life then all the hype around dying arts sounds either like clamorous fear of change or a fascination with morbidity.  A dying civilization obsessed with death.

One look around the San Francisco Bay Area and you clearly see, hat making is not dying but experiencing a renaissance.  If you, like me, are intrigued with old arts, why not take a hat blocking workshop or visit the amazing upcoming local hat designer market.  Your experience of creativity will inspire.

To find out more visit O’Lover Hats website.


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