Monday, January 27, 2014

I found a great quote the other day that I wanted to share. 

"The important thing to remember is that no project is the ultimate; each is a step along the road. Enjoy, experiment, take chances, have fun: this is the learning process. Learning to see, then using what we see is a lifetime project. I have yet to finish a piece that I couldn't visualize improvements to. I keep reminding myself of what a gallery-owner friend once told me. She said that she differentiates between art and craft, not by the medium, but by the attitude of the person who created the work. A craftperson produces the same thing over and over, an artist continues to change and grow."   
                                ---- Dorothy Bird

I feel like I have been straddling a line between art and craft for years; and the way I have perceived my own work, along with others' perceptions, has led me to constantly re-question this idea of what is art and what is craft, and what the hell am I doing??

In the Fashion Department at SCAD, craft was a 'dirty' word. A fashion designer was NEVER a crafter and the very idea led my professors to sticking their noses even higher in the air. Of course, this made me want to incorporate crafts even more into my designs. It was easy for me to see past the kitsch, housewife stereotypes that I believe they were hung up on, and instead saw the variety of skills and techniques that encompassed my notion of craft. Honestly, to this day, I still don't really get why they abhorred the idea so much.

In my need to always be different, I have relished the idea of blending two supposed different areas of concentration, in an attempt to see both of them in a new way. I have never once doubted my ability to blend art and craft successfully, but I can't help but hear the naysayers. The galleries that turn me away because they don't perceive what I'm doing as fine art. The people who look at my work and can't understand that it's not a sweater.  I guess there are those who have such ingrained ideas as to what fine art is and what knitting is that I perplex them with my muddling. And now I'm so far deep into it that I don't get what's so hard not to get. 

Today, as I slowly carve an art career path, the foundation I am building my name upon is entirely craft-based. Knitting, crochet, have completely replaced the traditional canvas, paints, brushes. I find that the limitations of knitting, the rules that cannot be changed, give me enough parameters to allow my creativity to flourish, and free myself from the 'blank canvas' syndrome. To me, this all feels right. 

So how do I define art and how do I define craft? I don't think either need to be limited to one person's definition. Isn't art a visual display of hand skill and execution? Don't tell me that you have never seen a quilt that expresses love and beauty. (If you haven't, let me know, and I will show you.)

So let's have a big middle finger towards the boundaries of definitions and stereotypes, and show the world what creativity really means by being open to it all.

1 comment:

  1. I love this quote from Dorothy Bird, it resonates so deeply with me! I feel like I'm stuck in that same limbo land between art & craft (especially working in two very different areas with paper cutting and jewelry making) but it's a happy kind of limbo now. In my mind they are one and the same, we're all just creators in the end.

    What I really appreciate about Bird's statement is her focus on change and growth as an artist. A lot of people would argue that the distinction between art & craft lies in the message, not the work itself. But when you're working in a field like fashion or jewelry design, there's rarely an overarching theme or statement that you're trying to make through your work. Experimenting, learning, changing, growing, creating something UNIQUE - that's what makes you an artist.

    I think what's even more important, at least on the fashion/jewelry design side, is the distinction between artist/crafter & mere producer. I see that gap widen every time I look at etsy and see like 100,000 bubble necklaces made by "crafters" that look identical to the same plastic crap manufactured by fast fashion shops like F21 and H&M. Craft is still an art form, requiring a lot of creativity, skill, and devoted practice. Assembling reproductions of bubble necklaces from F21 does not count in my book.