Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Art vs. Craft



After spending all day playing with clay, my husband and I decided to take a trip to the bookstore. As soon as I walked through the door, I waived good bye and marched proudly into the “Art Section”, to look through pottery books for inspiration. After scanning through hundreds of books on Art history and famous painters, photography, books on fashion design and make up artistry, books on motion pictures…hmmm before I knew it I was in the adjacent “Architecture Section”. Puzzled, I walked over to the information desk and asked if they can help me locate books on ceramics. The girl politely stated that if they have any, they would be located upstairs in the “Craft Section”. Oh… So I walked upstairs and located the “Craft Section” In the very corner, next to the “Pet Section” was a small insignificant “Craft Section”. There on the bottom shelf between quilting and jewelry making, I was able to locate a total of four books having to do with ceramics. FOUR! So hold on, let me get this straight, putting lipstick on someone’s face is more of an art than ceramic sculpture? And what about Ceramic History? One of the oldest art forms in history. Are advertisements from the 60s more of an art form than million year old Chinese porcelain teapots? I was beyond furious while flipping through these mediocre soft cover “books” on the floor of the craft section where I belong. So my question to you is, what is art and what is craft? Who decides where Art ends and Craft begins? Why do we get shoved aside while make-up artists get all the glory together with Oscar De La Renta and Andy Warhol? Hello, I am a make up artist… and what is it you do again? Crafts?

9 comments:

Judy Freeman said...

Really thoughtful post and I guess a sign of the times. There are a lot of people out there that think are can only be on canvas.

LASdesigns said...

Well said and agreeably annoying.
My first thought was, if I remember correctly you are near LA and perhaps they base their organization on who they think their customer will be...

Diana Brower said...

Alina---I totally agree with you! The Ceramics/Pottery books, IF ANY, are always in the Craft section of my local Barnes & Noble, right next to the beading & knitting books. I usually find a great selection at my pottery supply shop though!

Do you also read Ceramics Monthly magazine? They are always debating on Art vs. Craft (or sculptural vs. functional pottery).

My friends and I are starting a new arts organization in our town in Ohio where we vowed to include ALL ART FORMS! Here's our website: www.TroyArtsAlliance.org.

Our group will include:
VISUAL ARTS - painting/drawing, photography, sculpture
PERFORMING ARTS - drama, music, dance
FINE CRAFT - clay art, basket weaving, fiber art, wood art, jewelry, metal art
LITERARY ARTS - writers of novels, poetry, short stories

**We are mostly potters and are so tired of people thinking that ART is only PAINTING!**** Believe me, musicians feel the same way.

Also, I love your acorn pots!
Regards,
Diana Brower

Graciela Testa Lynt said...

How frustrating! I hope you complained! I am lucky to live outside of Washington, DC, home to the Renwick Gallery. Their gift shop has the best books on ceramics!!

kayla said...

very nice blog some how i found you looking for things on our sons esophageal atresia birth defect and other complications as well, i wish you the best.

Devin said...

I agree with you:0)That is very frustrating!

capitolagirl said...

That sounds frustrating. I feel lucky that the community I live in is very artsy and fights hard to retain a local flavor in business, so I'm fortunate to be able to be exposed to a large variety of unique creations. In more suburbanized areas, I think its much more common to run across what I call "chain store art"...

Jesse Lu said...

It's up to 'us' to show the rest of the art and general world that ceramic pottery and sculpture is an fine, fine art form. This means demanding to occupy the same spaces as accepted fine artists such as galleries, museums, schools, etc, but it also means demanding from each other that we push ourselves beyond the constrains of traditional ceramics and stop limiting ourselves by form and function.

Dube said...

Am only now getting into this blog years after its creation, but I have to agree vigorously with Jesse Lu. Well said. I think it was Henry Takamoto (sp?) who best said it: "The secret of art is to do something that is unfamiliar to you. There is little value in doing something you have seen before." Moving beyond conventions is what clay artists / potters / whatever-you-call-yourselves should be doing if you wish to be considered artists as opposed to artisans.