It seems that the conversation about how we talk about what we do is getting louder, and more insistent: We're just not happy with the available words as we identify ourselves as creators, and we want something that is neither limiting nor misleading. Joanne Mattera has written a provocative post about not using an adjective in front of artist; i.e., don't call yourself a fiber artist or an art quilter or a ceramicist, just call yourself an artist, and then live up to it.
In Joanne's view, this helps artists to avoid getting trapped in the fiber/craft ghetto and opens up more opportunity and I think she's right about that. I still think it's unfortunate that being a quilter or stitcher seems to have as many liabilities as benefits. Her choice of a Gee's Bend quilt image is interesting, because as far as I know, they did call themselves quilters; it was a farsighted curator who put them in a context that eliminated that label. And part of the visibility of the pieces was the whole, "Think these are modern art? Think again! They're just quilts! By women! Fooled you!" line.
So I reiterate that labeling is more for others than yourself, but it does seem to matter. There are great comments on the maker post about this.
I have a language pet peeve too, and I've resisted writing about this because it seems a little or a lot on the curmudgeonly side, but I hate when women talk about being "fiber addicts" or "bead junkies" or otherwise using the language of addiction to refer to their interest in and love of materials. Why? Because, just like calling yourself a shoe junkie or a shopping addict, it's a way of abdicating responsibility and choice. "I can't help it, I'm an addict." I can say for sure that this is not the way to advance your interests as an artist. I have never, ever heard a man refer to the materials and tools that he uses in that way. They're the things he needs to support his creative will, not an addiction.
Now, lest you send me a message that I should "lighten up," know that I'm lecturing myself as much as anyone else in the words that follow. If you love textiles, paint, fabric, yarn, beads, stitching, sewing, color, texture, photography, books, workshops, whatever it may be, own it. Declare that it's what you love and it's how you choose to spend your time, money, and mental energy. Don't cop out as a junkie who can't control herself. If you're an artist, you deserve good tools and supplies and inspiration.
We use a lot of war words and violence language in our culture. We also use a lot of addiction language. If our words create our future, then let's choose to do a better job on both fronts.
Now, just one link for a little fun: Printsource New York, the textile design trade show, has a new blog on print and pattern in fashion and textiles.