Craft Redefined

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The Politician
politics, politician, clay portraits, John G. Diefenbaker, constituents, attention to detail, sculpture, sculptor, character, humanity, patina, bronze, acrylic paint on bronze, archetypal politician, essence, persona, capturing a characteristic pose,, bronze sculpture, politician, John Diefenbaker, sculptor, sculpture, chair, human figure, portrait, Canadian prime minister,
description
start quoteWe want to reflect this society to itself, and try to reveal some of that to itself, try to show who we are, which is a much more important task than being stylish.end quote-- Joe Fafard

Fafard’s  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  of The Politician will be instantly recognizable to anyone from Saskatchewan – and to many Canadians – of a certain age. John G. Diefenbaker was Canada ’s 13th Prime Minister. He was a persuasive stump speaker and a prairie populist who prided himself on being able to remember the names of thousands of his constituents. Fafard has skillfully captured the essence of the man who suffered election defeats for two decades before finally being elected to Parliament, achieving the leadership of his party and then the Prime Minister’s office.

Diefenbaker In The Politician Fafard presents Diefenbaker in his later years, perhaps his last campaign in 1979, striking a characteristic hands-on-hips pose. Being a man of the people was part of the Diefenbaker persona, so it would be perfectly natural for him to climb on a chair in any of the community halls in his constituency to speak to a small group of voters.

With The Politician Fafard has applied his characteristic attention to detail to the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  on the chair, which exhibits strength of character and a sense of humanity that elevates this  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  above a portrayal of one person to become the  archetypalThe original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.  politician.

Although he has sculpted famous figures such as Margaret Thatcher, Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Bill Cosby, Fafard favours folksy, down-home subjects for his sculptures, but his work has a power and an impact that is far greater than a piece of  folk artThe production of art by untrained amateurs for their own enjoyment. Style in folk art is influenced by a combination of the artist’s culture and art history.  or cottage-industry craft. Terrence Heath, who has curated a large exhibition of Fafard’s works at the National Gallery of Canada, describes him as an extremely intelligent artist. “He’s sold himself, in a way as a little French-Canadian folk artist, but he’s not. He’s a major sculptor.”

additional resources Farm Background and Observation
Duration: 2:28 min
Size: 10942kb
Funk Art and the Regina Clay Movement: A Conversation with Timothy Long
Duration: 3:35 min
Size: 15198kb
How He Came to Regina as a Teacher and a Sculptor
Duration: 3:16 min
Size: 14480kb
On Commissioned Work
Duration: 1:11 min
Size: 5074kb
On Critics, Commercial Success and not Compromising Your Art
Duration: 1:28 min
Size: 6519kb
The Common Place
Duration: 3:42 min
Size: 16646kb
Valadon Potter and Teevo
Duration: 3:06 min
Size: 13825kb
Things to Think About
  • Do you know someone who has a pose or gesture that is unique to that person, like John Diefenbaker’s hands-on-hips pose? What does that pose or gesture say about the person?
  • One of the nicknames given to Diefenbaker was “Dief the Chief.” Is this leadership quality evident in Fafard’s sculpture? If so, in what ways or how?
Advanced Activity Advanced Activity Studio Activity

Critical response activity

Fafard relies on  clayMud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. (Artlex.com)  and other  mediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  to describe and define character, in much the same way as a writer. For the piece seen here, he used  clayMud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. (Artlex.com)  instead of words, to express observations, memories and insight gathered from public events and the  contextThe varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the colour of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone. (Artlex.com)  of the times to present his “take” on a famous Canadian personality - The Right Honorable John Diefenbaker.

(Fafard did not have the Internet when he created this piece but you can use the links given below to help you with this activity!)

  • The Diefenbaker Canada Centre - Located on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the Centre preserves and interprets collections representing the life, interests, and times of Canada's thirteenth Prime Minister.
  • John George Diefenbaker - Biography and other information about John George Diefenbaker, Canada's Prime Minister from 1957-1963. From First Among Equals website.

Write a journal/sketch book  page imaging yourself as Joe Fafard, preparing to create the  clayMud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. (Artlex.com)   sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  of John Diefenbaker.  Where and how do you think Fafard gathered his information ?

  • Imagining you are Joe Fafard, what information about Mr. Diefenbaker, will you take into account? What personality traits will you consider for your piece? List several you could use to choose from (for example, facial expression, type of clothing, body shape). Use the art image to help you.
  • Why will you place the figure standing on a chair?

 

Studio activity

Now, after completing the Critical Response Activity, you should know more about John Diefenbaker, create three objects that relate to him or to the  contextThe varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the colour of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone. (Artlex.com)  of his times. You can use  clayMud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. (Artlex.com)  or any other  mediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  that is appropriate to express your ideas. Below are some examples to start your brainstorming for ideas. But think of some of your own as well.

  • An illustrated map of his travels.
  • A diary of events of an important time period.
  • A political campaign poster.
  • An (imaginary) newspaper article with illustrations.

Now prepare to create a  clayMud; moist, sticky dirt. In ceramics, clay is the basic material, usually referring to any of a certain variety of mixtures of such ingredients — fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet, brittle when dry, and very hard when heated. There is a temperature with ceramic clays at which their particles fuse (vitrification), and this is most commonly controlled by heating (firing) them in a kiln. The most common types of ceramic clays are earthenware (terra cotta when fired, terra cruda when not), stonewares, and porcelain. (Artlex.com)   sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  of a person of your OWN choosing.  It could be a current-day,  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  politician, a local personality or someone from the popular world, or the entertainment industry (music, art, sports, theatre).

References

Heath, Terrence. ‘The Accessible Innovator.’ Border Crossings, Summer, 1990. Retrieved from the Internet on October 10, 2008 from: http://www.ccca.ca/c/writing/h/heath/hea055t.html?languagePref=fr&

Joe Fafard’s Official Homepage. Retrieved from the Internet on October 10, 2008 from: http://www.joefafard.com

National Gallery of Canada. Joe Fafard. Retrieved from the Internet on October 10, 2008 from: http://cybermuse.gallery.ca/cybermuse/showcases/fafard/english/index_e.jsp

Scappatura, Angela. ‘Prime Ministers and cows - part of Joe Fafard exhibit at National Gallery.’ Maclean’s, February 12, 2008.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning