For me, the DIY spirit boils down to crafting something meaningful out of accessible materials and reconfiguring everyday objects for a different (and perhaps inspiring) use. Here's two objects of art that typify this spirit:
Artist Anni Albers's washers necklace (pictured above) offers an uber-stylish example of the will to create a meaningful item while making do amidst widespread scarcity. Albers, a pioneering textile artist of the Bauhaus, created the playful necklace from accessible materials during the lean, traumatic years of WWII.
Ceramic artist Michel Harvey's facsimiles of paper bags (pictured below) exemplify the power of reconfiguring quotidian objects. These vases challenge our first impressions and preconceptions by turning perceived utility on its head and forcing a reconsideration of what is commonplace. In his own words, his work "transforms common, annonymous, every day objects info artforms that surprise, intrigue and amuse."
Michel's Ceramic Paper Bags (Vase) can be purchased here, where the photo was found.
Make do with what you've got. Transform your relationship with the everyday objects that surround you. A pretty neat ethos, right? Makes me want to run around singing the praises of the DIY spirit.
But consider this. Often, doing-it-yourself also involves copying what you cannot otherwise afford and tows a fine line between a positive celebration of accessibility and an negative infringement on someone else's idea. While I personally tend more towards DIY Maoism than intellectual property protectionism, the issue is worth some thought.
And I can't think of a better (or more hilarious) example of the quandary than the hullabaloo surrounding iArtist London. Blogs and publications picked up on a series of DIY kits for recreating seriously expensive and famous works of art, like Damien Hirst's For the Love of God. Museums and stores jumped on the press, hoping to carry the kits.
Photo of the iHirst Kit from iArtist London.
But it turns out the whole website was a hoax by conceptual artist Naroa Lizar Redrado. And yet the plot thickens further: because there was so much interest, Redrado then contemplated actually put these DIY kits into production - until Hirst's legal team intervened. It's an interesting series of posturings, misunderstandings, and reversals - of life imitating art and vice versa. (Read this W Magazine article for the full story.)
So is there any lesson here to be learned?
Perhaps it is that the DIY spirit is many things to many different people, that its affirmations are tempered by the complexities that define human interaction.
And that DIY kits are profitable.
I'm an Urban Planner by training, and a maker of random items by vocational calling. My eclectic sense of style derives from constantly coming up with budget solutions to design quandaries or gift giving.
Follow me at Constitutionally Modern DIY