11/24/08

dont put me in the craft box

No offense to anyone out there who is a craftsman, but the last post had a few comments saying some of my work was craft category. I find myself bristling at that word, even though I appreciate people pointing me to possibilities and directions, it just brings back a few memories of arts and craft festivals and seeing the little wooden bird houses or signs or crap that is just repetitive un-creative blobs of stuff.

Craft vs fine art. I googled it. There are fine lines. I prefer to think of my RR Clocks as functional, contemporary art. Granted craft appears to be functional rather than aesthetic, there are plenty of 'big named famous artists' who have made functional art and they were not considered craft artists. There is no craft in my skills believe me. I am not a woodworker, I am not a furniture maker, I am a visionary even before I am an artist. A craftsman knows how to do things and do them well. Use tools. Make replicates of work. I've only made two pieces, those coil clocks and gutter pencil things ~ that does not make me a craft artist. Those are multiples. There is a difference.

Studio craft includes studio pottery, metal work, weaving, wood turning and other forms of wood working, glass blowing, and glass art. (this from wikipedia)

I'm none of those above. NONE.
Fine art includes photography (which I do), sculpture (which I do) From wiki: The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline.
Believe me I'm not craft. Craftmanship = skillfulness. I'm not that. I've had collectors buy my art and I doubt they consider it craft. Okay, let me get off this high horse before I fall down and break my neck.

*and there is nothing wrong with craft. NOTHING. It just isn't a label I choose to put on my art. I know there are beautiful wonderful amazing works that are in craft festivals. I'm probably more of a raw artist than a craft artist if you want to foist a label on my work. Even that I don't like as it alludes to insanity. Can't I just be a contemporary artist? What do you readers call yourselves and WHY? Fine craft...even that I don't think fits my clocks just because they are functional. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about the word craft, maybe I am just too aware of how little skill I have in comparison to creativity. (wheres daphne when I need her!)

16 comments:

peggy said...

Hear, Hear!! It's a shame, really, that the word 'craft' has taken on such a negative conotation, given its rich history (when someone uses the 'c' word in talking about my work, it's all I can do sometimes not to give them a dope slap). I feel it's a reflection on the lack of education and public discourse that craft and fine art have lost their meaningful differences. I'm old enough to remember a time when contemporary fine artists were somewhat regular presences on broadcast television and in national magazines. Perhaps as we usher in a new and more hopeful presidential administration curiousity and understanding (or at least acknolwdgement) of contemporary artistic
expression will once again be the norm instead of the exception.
A bit of a rant and maybe not exactly what you had in mind for a response but ya, I'm with you on this point.
Cheers.

Eva said...

It takes more than craft to create art. And in many cases it is still art if it isn't really craft. It takes a minimum of craft to produce something, or it would fall apart. But the "art" bit is in the spirit. Craft is not art minus spirit, but art is a minimum of craft plus spirit.

Nellie's Needles said...

Never have I thought of your work as "craft(y)" ... it is most definitely ART in my opinion.

There's a lot of craft involved in my art. By having "know how" in construction techniques and about my materials, I have options of how to present any idea. From my point of view and having actually seen several of your pieces, you have well-developed skills in executing your art. Those skills may be evolving, but the art you've made won't disintegrate because you didn't care enough to make that it wouldn't

self taught artist said...

wow, did i for once make sense in my rant? thanks for your comments. I realize mostly i'm still echoing some sort of ETSYness creep out factor of thinking shit i'm going to be considered one of 'those' crafty women who just makes little cute THINGS. eewwww

and honestly, I am so NOT SKILLED in tools and materials. you are right nellie, I will make sure it wont disintegrate but that doesn't mean I know what the hell I'm doing all the time. I can't measure a straight line to save my LIFE. I can't drill a hole in the right spot EVER. A craft person knows how to use tools/materials/ and get exactly the look they want. I get better the longer I do things, my work is less primative and lighter and sturdier but CRAFT probably not in this life.

Ellen said...

I'm going to be odd man out, because I think the labels are meaningless. The best contemporary craft artists usually do one offs and have creative vision that is as good or exceeds that of top contemporary artists. The price of their pieces and the venues they show in reflect that as well. The range of what is considered 'art' today is so broad and the lines have been blurred, that there's no insult in the labels people use. It's all about quality combined with uniqueness, or making statements that people relate to.

And nobody sees you as a knitter of potholders, so no worries.

self taught artist said...

what is a one off?
thanks for reminding me labels are superfluous

Sheree Rensel said...

Geesh! I don't agree with you. However, it is your art. I can understand your distaste for the word CRAFT if you believe that word implies birdhouses at the county fair.
However, I was not talking about that kind of CRAFT stuff at all. That is why I sent you the link to the Florida Craftsman so you can see what I meant. If you looked at their website you will see it is ART.
I was trying to help you with your sales and hoping you would see there are quality venues for your work. Even if you put your work in a fine craft gallery, you don't have to call yourself a craftsman. You can call yourself whatever you want.

Sorry if I offended you. I will stay out of this discussion from now on.

self taught artist said...

I appreciate the thoughts and links sheree, you have nothing to apologize for!

Karen said...

it is all so simple really. you are an artist. I am an artist. your medium of choice is mixed media, thus you fall into the mixed media artists zone...that one over there to the left side of the parking lot please...I am a textile artist...we park over here on that side of the building...painters to the left please..glass artists next level please...etc.
Seriously, we are all artists. why can it not be so simple?
Oh and I believe that craft can be art as well.think of the gees bend quilts. functional craft that is also art. I could go on and on but it is your blog after all.!

self taught artist said...

you are right karen.
the more i think and talk about this the more obtuse it all becomes.

deb said...

some debates never end... arts vs crafts, arts and crafts reform, who gets to decide, and mostly you know women end up on the craft end of the spectrum while the guys get to be the great white way, the "real" artists... whatever, a rose by any other name... ok rant over going back to my studio, have a nice day peeps!

Kim Hambric said...

Labels suck. Let me just put it simply. Years ago, black (or should I say African-American) men were called "boy" or far worse. Working women were just "gals" in the steno pool. Not so much these days. Macrame is pretty much dead. We don't have to worry about classifying that these days. Perhaps in the future, the near future, the invisible but solid line between craft and art (yeah, I put craft first) will dissolve and we will be free to run to the other side.

In Central PA each summer we have one of those arts festivals. I cannot believe some of the things that show up here. I'm talking the opposite of crap. 10 foot sculptures - real artwork. Glass art (no, not stained glass birdies). I cannot imagine the effort to pack up those things and schlep them 1000 miles. But those artists do it. And there must be a good reason for it.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town,there is another festival happening at the same time. Doilies galore. I guess one has to take their pick about which festival to enter and which one to visit.

Not all painters are fine artists. Not all fine artists are painters.

self taught artist said...

i get it. i get it. i no longer care now THANK YOU :)

Lola said...

i feel your words!. and i love the work you show in this post, beautiful..

Philip said...

I think one of the main issues is "context". If work is presented as art (and I am talking about anything here) then it my book it should be considered as art. Take Antonio Tapies for example - although he mostly paints on canvas there is, at the Antonio Tapies Foundation in Barcelona an old armchair that he has literally covered in paint. In an art gallery it is looked at and evaluated as art - but if it were taken to a second hand furniture shop it would simply be viewed as a rather strange paint splattered chair and not as art. It would probably be deemed to have no value to boot. This is why I am in favour of the definition of art being 'whatever is presented as art is art'. Unfortunately artists can't even agree amongst themselves over the definition so how can we expect Joe Public to understand? If anyone calls your work craft they are simply displaying their lack of education.I blame the schools for this. It's the 21st century but art is still mainly taught from the perspective of the 18th century.

Some people are outraged by my simple definition of what is art but each one has so far failed to come with a better definition. Every alternative I have seen tries to put in so many labels and taste criteria that it would tie us all up in knots.

self taught artist said...

philip i couldn't agree with you more in regards to the painted chair example. and you are right about labels and criteria. obviously i was just too touchy, insecure and ignorant...and i say that with sincerity and humility!