What Is Craft?
Posted by learntobead on March 27, 2009
This question comes up often:
What is Craft?
Is Craft Art?
Can Craft be Art?
In many circles “jewelry” is considered a craft. In others, “jewelry” is art.
At the Victoria and Albert Museum in England, they have opened up their art collections to include those of craft. Yet they continue to make a distinction between the two, as seems to be common across Europe. Craft is what you do with your hands, and Art is what you do with your mind.
“To celebrate a new partnership between the V&A and the Crafts Council, we asked leading figures in the craft world to tell us what the term craft means to them. We hope these comments will inspire you send us your views too, resulting in some healthy debate.”
[While you are visiting the V&A museum online, check out their jewellery collections — don’t you love the way the British spell jewelry!.]
I think in America, any distinctions between craft and art are starting to get very murky. I guess we tend to be much more democratic about things.
I recently finished reading a book called SHARDS by Garth Clark on ceramic art. Clark’s is a major voice for understanding craft as art. But he decries the lack of leadership in the ceramics field in how ceramics are taught, and how ceramics are promoted. He feels that ceramics relies too much on an industrial model — making the best toilets, and not enough on an art model — making objects that resonate from an artist’s personality, sensibilities, and social/cultural perspectives.
I wonder sometimes if there are not parallels in jewelry and beading to Clark’s assessments of ceramics.
Another book I’ve just begun is THINKING THROUGH CRAFT by Glenn Adamson. He asks provocative questions about the marginalization of craft within modern art. He advocates for visual artists to take a renewed look at craft to better understand the “working in media” craft techniques and theories which also underly the visual arts, but are too often ignored.
And just in time for our blog discussion on craft vs. art, I received this announcement from the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR.
Museum of Contemporary Craft, Pacific Northwest College of Art and panelists from Oregon’s creative community invite you to engage in a series of conversations about the anticipated integration of these two institutions. Explore the broader concepts relevant to creating a more vibrant and expanded organization that will strengthen its contribution to the cultural voice and economic vitality of the region. Conversations are moderated by Tim DuRoche, community program manager at Portland Center Stage.
Thursday, April 9, 6:30 pm
The Changing Dynamics of Craft and Design
Pacific Northwest College of Art, 1241 NW Johnson, Portland
Andrew Wagner, editor-in-chief, American Craft magazine
Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft
JP Reuer, chair, MFA in applied craft and design, Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) and PNCA
Karl Burkheimer, head, OCAC wood department
What Does Craft Mean To You? What Do You Think It Means To Others?
How Does This Affect Jewely Making, Beadwork and Jewelry Design?
PLEASE POST YOUR VIEWS AND FEELINGS: