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art vs craft - my ramblings

updated wed 10 jun 98


Theresa L. Jones on mon 8 jun 98

I am really enjoying this discussion. Someone mentioned something about
"soul" being added to make art (can't remember the context but soul was the
key word). When craftsmen put their soul into their work then it crosses
over to art. I think there is an overlap between crafts and art. A craft
item such as pottery or a hand-made piece of furniture can be a work of art.
People will pay more for it because it has the injection of soul in it.
Others, will go to WalMart or the discount furniture outlet tent sale. A
whole 'nother discussion about the soul of these different buyers is
probably lurking.

This conversation has had me thinking about a song (Laudon Wainwright?) about
Jesse Helms thinking art is a picture of clown with a tear on his face
(again, I may have butchered the actual words but the thought is clear - and
I hope I have not offended any one out there who paints pictures of clowns
with tears.). We are a society that has very little appreciation or
understanding of arts or crafts. Most people (especially our elected
officials) think that art is something to hang on the wall. A potter friend
and I were discussing this once and she was telling me about seeing
paintings advertised to "match" your furniture. Is this art?

People just as easily embrace a third category - cheap crap. If you've been
to Santa Fe (it's been a couple of years but doubt this has changed), there
are wonderful galleries with wonderful art (okay, beyond many/most budgets)
and there is a plethora of cheap crap (made by the Korean tribes). Kmart
quality kachinas. Black glazed pots. Probably made by people who earn less
than Nike employees. Do people purchase this and consider it art?

I think painting is unarguably considered art, but are all paintings art, no
matter what they look like? In my days in industry, I walked into a
co-workers office. The walls were covered in G. Harvey oil paintings, not
prints. Ends up, when he was working in Taiwan, he had these copies painted
for him. Are these art? They looked nice but was there soul in them? I
worked with a woman who was taking painting classes. They painted copies of
famous paintings. Okay, there is logic to learning from the masters, just
not how I would want to learn. She wasn't going to take a session of the
classes because she didn't like Monet and they were going to copy a Monet.
My mind could not grasp how you copy a Monet because Monet is painting
light. The thought still boggles my mind.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. I think we all agree that crafts can be art.
Maybe we have a mission now to teach the public (politicians) that craft can
be art, and that both have a defining place in a civilization.

Theresa L. Jones

Barney Adams on tue 9 jun 98

I may as well jump into this too. I think most of the comments
made concerning this are valid since they apply to each individual.
The deal is that art is defined by the "beholder". The key point to
this is we, as artist have very little control over the perception
of our work. If the masses were given instruction in the appreciation
of art I think this discussion would have no bearing. I would much
rather see a live play then some sitcom on TV, but the general public
is'nt taught to understand this enjoyment. The human aspect seems to try to
classify art to establish theirs as the elite. I feel the art is simply
the expression of creativity (with is a divine aspect of the human race)
and the sheer enjoyment of beauty in all it's forms.


Lorca Beebe on tue 9 jun 98

The term soul is usually described as "animas", there is a photograph cant
recall by whom, of a man or a woman kissing a statue, I believe in this power,
(I dont like talking about it), a piece can have a life of its own sometimes
irregardless of the makers "soul"....


MRS SANDRA L BURKE on tue 9 jun 98

I enjoyed reading your ramblings. I've also had classes where we were
expected to copy a painting form one of the masters, but the next
assignment was to use an idea all our own and paint it in the style
that master. It was an interesting exercise, but I'm not sure I
learned much from it. The works looked stiff and forced. they didn't
have MY soul and you can't capture someone else's on your canvas. Why
do instructors give those exercises anyhow?

"I think we all agree that crafts can be art. Maybe we have a mission.

That's ONE of the reasons I teach. It can be a real challange though,
especially in rural America where I teach were art is a landscape
painting painted in photo realistic style and good pottery resembles
something from Hallmark (or God forbid Wallmart). If I can get even
one student to begin to see the difference I am happy.
I enjoy buying the work of student artists in this area. St. Louis is
just beginnig to really blossom in that there are more and more art
galleries, art walks, openings etc. I find that some of the student
work is wonderful----full of "soul" and a big plus---it's usually
within my budget. I never buy art as an investment, just for the pure
enjoyment of it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Now that school is out I have time
to enjoy reading all the posts instead of just skimming.
Thanks again
Sandy B