Preface: Miniature in a Box?
In writing a book on miniature art, the centuries’ old question still vexes us: What constitutes a miniature? While this question, in today’s context, will be addressed in the following pages, emphasis should be placed upon the great variety and flexibility encompassing the genre of miniature art. It has mirrored the artistic trends of its day and evolved to meet widespread changes. The matter of constructing a simple mental box to hold the definition has proved elusive over time with the ever changing shape of that box adapting to the perceived definition of miniature. Even if the concept of a box had been replaced with a bag for greater flexibility at times specifics in the genre would have had difficulty being squeezed inside. While admitting this impossibility of including everything, two points to emphasize that are often overlooked by the box and bag stuffers are that the quest demonstrates the belief such a container/definition exists despite the inability to perfectly construct it, and secondly, that there is an obvious and abundant range of works acknowledged to not fit or belong inside such a box/bag.
An injustice is done to limit past terminology with contemporary meaning and the same holds true in reverse. Time changes all things presenting the challenge to determine what is timeless with respect to giving proper meaning to a definition that covers a wide range of understanding. Today’s miniaturists have opportunities never imagined by the originators of the genre including formal societies dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the art form overseen by a World Federation of Miniaturists established to foster communication between these societies and an association of individual miniaturists holding to a standard definition. Additionally, the digital age of instant global communication provides limitless avenues for marketing to a worldwide audience and networking across the oceans. Today’s miniaturists also face a multifaceted onslaught of competition from competing namesakes of small works, ever increasing demands from hectic lifestyles and a general apathy among youth for pursuit of any form of art production or collection.
This book represents specifically the present state of miniature art in America, and, generally, the international scope. It begins with an overview of the genre culminating in the presentation of many of the Signature Members of the world’s only society founded to honor outstanding miniaturists. Their own words will prove quite enlightening for peers, collectors and scholars. My goal in this production will have been met if the book leaves you longing for more and eager to seek out these gems of the art world in person!
Wes Siegrist, Historian, Miniature Artists of America