Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bruce Metcalf pokes the bear ( the art/craft debate)

I am pretty tired of the old "Art vs Craft" debate. After lots of churning it around in my brain, and listening to how others work the issue out, I came to a  definition that works for me.
Art is the idea, craft is how it is made.  There, done. Years have gone by without giving the question another thought.

Then along came an article in the June/July 2014 issue of American Craft by Bruce Metcalf. He opens his article with this statement : "Craftsmenship often doesn't matter in the contemporary art world. It should"

Major flashbacks to my grad school days when I was chasing after an MFA. Beauty and craft were rather discouraged, even in my field of fiber. I was often told my work should be more raw. More visceral. The focus was on concept - which is OK, but as Metcalf points out; "The art world has scrupulously avoided stressing the necessity of clear ideas. Critics give artists a pass. Bad ideas are everywhere." I would go so far as to say that unclear ideas were encouraged. A concept too easily discerned was seen as not interesting enough.

While I find his four points of what makes good art thought provoking, I am working in exact opposition to that on my current series of tapestries.
His last of the 4 points; " The last component is exercising control over composition". Nope, I am not doing that. Not right now.

I will keep this article to read again, and probably again. It makes me think about art/craft a little bit differently. I see value in the way I am working now, because it is what I need to do. Art making is ultimately about the maker. The deal I made at the beginning of this commitment was that I cared about the making as an exercise, and I would relinquish control over the outcome.

Here is the latest progress.

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