Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Art Vs. Craft, Along the Continuum

This week's Etsy Blogger's topic is : 1).Art vs. Craft: Is it an issue / non-issue and how do you feel about the argument?

Here's some food for thought I found by Googling which you may find of interest as I did:

After finding much to agree with in that post, I came upon several posts on this blog, Textile Arts Resource Guide. I liked how Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer, a textile artist, described craft and art as a part of a continuum . Personally, I think each piece I create may belong on a different spot on that continuum although I do primarily think of myself as a craftsperson. Charles Lewton-Brain, a master goldsmith, agreed that a person can be both artist and craftsperson and articles they produce can be both also. He also expounded on that idea which I support that artists and craftspersons self-designate.

"The Canadian Professional Relations tribunal, after spending months on the question decided that 'artists self-designate', that for legal purposes you are an artist if you say you are or a crafts person if you say you are."

I think I liked these reflections from Bruce DeBoer, a photographer, about art and craft best:

"What’s the difference between art and craft? Oh … about $1000. How about: Craft comes with instructions and art doesn’t? Or how about: Crafts take skill and art doesn’t need any? Nah - too confrontational.

“A good simple definition of art is the manifestation of human emotion through medium. Notice I’m not saying good or great art, just art. Art is a starting point for expression. If you reveal art you are an artist. A child who explores finger paints is an artist – maybe even the purest type.We all know artists; the most random of thinkers. They are driven to emote. It’s in there and it must come out, no practice required. To practice is to do..

“Craft is guided by an external force. Craft’s starting point isvoid of internal emotional expression. Practice a craft and your skills grow. They are measurable. Honed over a lifetime your mastery can reach great heights. It’s easy to recognize fine craftsmanship because it took great skill to produce..

“Art schools teach skills or the craft of communicating emotion.The schools of craftsmanship teach high skill but will also move students toward self expression. It’s as though they are teaching the same thing from opposite ends of a spectrum..In the middle of the art craft spectrum you’ll find fine art and beautiful craft sitting side by side; indistinguishable over time like paintings of the Dutch masters. Great artists become skilled at communicating their emotions and fine crafts people become emotional
expressionists through their medium. It’s the same thing but approached from different directions. Neither is easy. Neither is superior. "

So what are you, artist or craftsperson, or do you, like me, find yourself moving along the continuum?


Splendid Little Stars said...

an excellent, well-thought out, intelligent post!
My only contention is with "Craft’s starting point is void of internal emotional expression." The assumption is that craft is motivated by an external practicality (art is impractical?), and because of that no emotion is involved whatsoever. I believe this can be true, but is not always true, and therefore not a point of distinction.

storybeader said...

Homemade - great post! I love Bruce's definition, "with instructions"! I also thought right off that money was involved, and skill.

Thanks for picking this "thoughtful" one - was wondering what others felt about this.

Becky said...

great post!
Art/craft I think are interchangeable, and there is no wrong way to do either!

Anonymous said...

Yes, great are often teaching us someting!

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

Great point that you can be/create both. And that you self-appoint your title. I like that :)

Dominant Hands said...

Great thought provoking post. I think of myself as a fiber artist. My skill (craftwomanship) and creativity (artistry) go together to produce an expression of myself that hopefully is appreciated by others.

Mary Jane said...

Same ball of wax... Perhaps Craft evolves from making needed items beautiful....and Art does not necessarily provide a function except to feed the soul...?

Nicole said...

An interesting question.... When I'm dyeing yarns, I consider myself a craftsperson and when I'm painting, I consider myself an artist. I never gave any thought to why I think that, though. It has something to do with the utility of yarn, I think. I agree with Mary Jane; craft makes useful items beautiful, and art is not about mundane usefulness, but about what it does for the inner person.

Julianne said...

interesting question. I see art as making one of a kind abstract inquiries into the deep meaning of life and craft is making a useful tangible product not particularly meaningful but well made -- hopefully. One needs craft for good art and one likes to have an artistic aspect to craft.