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Tales from the Garden of Insanity - Meinsje Vlaming

The Genius of Making Things: the art of Meinsje Vlaming

Kristen Scholfield-Sweet

TALES FROM THE GARDEN OF INSANITY, art by Meinsje Vlaming, is currently on exhibition at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery on Cortes Island. Meinsje says she is not very comfortable with calling herself an artist, nor does she want to be labeled a craftsperson. She prefers being “a maker of things.” Still, these words may help us “get back to the garden” where Meinsje’s creativity thrives.

The Indo-European root ar in art means to put things together; to join, which implies some skill is involved. Meinsje’s ability to put a figure and tableau together using extraordinary attention to detail, yet not shade the piece with a political tilt of will, is truly art-full. A brilliant example is “My Darling Drag Queen.”

The original notion of craft was from the German and Swedish kraft, meaning strength. Later, skill was added to the meaning, in both a good and bad sense, as in crafty. Many of these puppets clearly cannot be trusted to stay meekly on the wall, and one wonders what happens in the garden when the humans go home for the night. Imagine meeting “the small one” in the gloaming evening light.

The Latin genius originally meant “deity of generation and birth.” It came ultimately from the Indo-European base gen, meaning produce. The Quan-Yin was made 27 years ago, and has been exhibited at every one of Meinsje’s solo shows since then. A Deity of generation and birth if ever there was one.

Genius also became adopted into English as Genie in the 18th century. Meinsje talks about her Muse not letting her go, and I for one sincerely hope she doesn’t. The entire exhibition is a tribute to Meinsje’s Genie that races along ahead, intensely whispering,” Make me next!”

Tales From the Garden of Insanity continues this Saturday and Sunday from 2 until 6 pm and then next Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 6 each day. Do not miss this opportunity to meet a genius at making things.


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