James Snowbarger BFA Communication Design Thesis Spring 2014
The Mark of the Tool: Autotelic work, Inherited Tools, and the Craftsman
This thesis acts as a guide to my understanding of my family, my work process, and the merits that come from devoting oneself entirely to a body of work. Using Mihaly Csikszentmihali’s notion of Autotelic work, which is the idea that work that has an end and a purpose in itself creates a sense of fulfillment, I will attempt to unpack and understand the value my family found in their work, specifically their work done at Timberline lodge. With many of my own jobs that I have seen and experienced today lacking a sense of fulfillment, I hope that in following my family’s work throughout history I will be able to discover where I might find myself in regards to the working environments of today.
This paper will follow my family’s work done for Timberline Lodge, and use this history as a tool to communicate the merits of autotelic work. I will begin with my great-grandfather Herbert’s work with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the construction of the lodge during the Great Depression, then follow Timberline’s successes and failures in the mid-century, and conclude with my personal experience growing up at the lodge.