I hope the new year finds everyone well. Spring is around the corner. Yippee!
I joined the local Weaver's Guild last Sept. I love it. What a wonderful group of talented people. This past Sat. we had a meeting where we all watched several excerpts from the series Crafts in America from PBS. Wow! There really are so many talented artists in the world...oh, wait-artist or craftsman? That is what came up at the end of show between our group members. What is art? What is a craft? Are you an artist, artisan, or craftsman? Or do you just 'make' stuff?
That is a long argued question. Some of the responses were that art is something that has no utilitarian purpose, just hangs on a wall or sits on a stand. Something to be viewed, pondered, invoke some thought from the viewer. Can't that be considered a utility of sorts?
So, that leaves crafts as something created for some purpose, some function. If you make crafts, you're supposedly not an artist. Why, because you are not a painter or a sculptor in the traditional formal sense. It seems the opinion also was that many gallery owners and museum curators feel that way too. Someone gave an example -a crocheted Kleenex box cover could not be art. My comment was, well, what if it was created in an artistic fashion? Still no? The people that were in the DVD like Ed Moulthrop- a wood turner, Paul Marioni - a glass sculptor, Randall Darwall - a weaver, Lia Cook - a weaver and Cliff Lee - a potter have pieces in galleries. Are they artists? Is their work art? If their pieces are in galleries and museum, it must be art. Right? Hmmm. I do agree that all crafts aren't necessarily art. Ultimately, it is a subjective world.
The discussion turned to how the Fiber arts are viewed. A craft or art? Or even wearable art? Most 'artists' don't seem to consider fiber as a means of art. It seems widely viewed that if you aren't someone like a Monet, a Miro` or a Van Gogh than you must not be a true artist... As I recall those artists weren't favored in the 'art' world during their beginnings as artists. Is a woven piece created for the wall, meant only to be viewed, not then a piece of art? I create batiks on silk scarves. Several people refer to them as wearable art other people see them as just a scarf. Again a subjective world.
In the end several people decided to say when asked, "are you an artist?", that "they just 'make stuff'". I love to make stuff and some of it is art. So, am I an artist? I like the word artisan; it seems to encompass both craftsman and artist.
I decided to look up the words artist, craftsman and artisan in the dictionary. Interesting. I found the sources also subjective to a degree.
Craftsman by most sources is stated as a man/person who practices a trade or handicraft with great skill and expertise. Also said to be an artisan or artist by Dictionary.com. Ok, that works for me.
Artist is viewed as one who is a painter, sculptor, or writer even, who is able with imagination and skill to produce works of aesthetic value... a person whose work shows exceptional creative ability and skill...Oxford dictionary says an artist can be "one person who makes their craft a fine art". Wikipedia says, an artist is a person who creates art and is skilled in some activity. I liked these too.
Artisan is seen as a person who practices a trade or handicraft; craftsperson; skilled in applied arts; synonymous with artist. Good too.
I thought when I looked up the 'true' definitions (if it's in the dictionary, it must be correct, right?) the answer would be decided for me. It seems that even in the dictionary world, there is no agreement.
So, in the end I've decided that I'm an artist who is trained and creates skillful pieces that fall into several areas...utilitarian, wearable, or just to be. Basically, I love to 'make' stuff. It makes me happy. The viewer can decide if it is art or not!
Who are you?