Craft brings a vision into reality
13 August 2009 3 Comments
My wife shared a link with me this morning where a fiber artist, The Knitting Linguist, elaborates on her own assessment of the art vs. craft debacle. A lengthy excerpt follows:
When I first heard people stating their strong preference that people not refer to their work as “craft”, I was surprised, though, because my own associations are so entirely different. To me, craft is what is required to move a vision of beauty to a state of reality. It requires skill, and wisdom. Craftiness, thus, is not only the knowlege and vision needed to bring art into being, but the ability to craft the time and space in our busy lives to do so. Craft to me is the craft not in the phrase arts and crafts, but in Arts and Crafts; the acknowledgement that those things which are useful need not be utilitarian. That there is something vital and joyous and whole in creating things of beauty which are to be used. To me, the fiber arts are prime examples of such craft, color and life and sensuality and texture and beauty and function all in one object, one expression of the maker’s art.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun “craft” as (slightly edited for brevity): 1. Strength, power, might, art; 2. Intellectual power; skill; art; 3. Skill, skillfulness, art; ability in planning or performing, ingenuity in constructing, dexterity; 4. Human skill, art as opposed to nature. And it defines the verb “craft” as: 1. To make or construct skillfully; 2. To use crafty devices; 3. To exercise one’s craft.
I certainly see within our community the exercise of strength, power, might, and art. The results of manipulating fiber strike me as definitional of art as opposed to nature. And if a spindle isn’t a crafty device, heck, I don’t know what is.
I understand and support the reasons why it is important to insist that the public acknowledge the art in the work of our hands. I admit, though, that the part of me that loves the underdog, that is a sucker for lost causes, wants to reclaim the word “craft” in all of its deep acknowledgement of the humanness of its exercise. I want them both back, and I want them with capitals and fireworks.
Look at what you’re making right now and see in it both the art and the craft, and be proud.
I’ll reiterate what I’ve learned while thinking about art and craft over the past few years, and that is that you can’t take the craft out of the art. If there is art, there must be craft. As much as certain movements or artists might not like it.