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How envy killed the crafts


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#1 Diana Ferreira

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 11:09 AM

http://art224.files....ark_envy001.pdf

I have just read this article, and it was good to read something that I have always believed to be true (without 'real proof'). I also always get mildly irritated by crafters referring to their work as 'art'.

What say you?
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#2 OffCenter

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

Most salient statement in the article probably was:

"Craft became the only community outside the penitentiary to give its greatest respect to escapees,..."

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#3 Denice

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:06 PM

I got offended when my daughter-in-law to be looked at my work and said "your crafty like my mom". Her mom makes teddy bears, nothing wrong with that but I quickly informed her I didn't do crafty projects.

#4 Lucille Oka

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:53 PM

I got offended when my daughter-in-law to be looked at my work and said "your crafty like my mom". Her mom makes teddy bears, nothing wrong with that but I quickly informed her I didn't do crafty projects.


Denice, I don't think you should be offended. People have no idea of what to call us. Sometimes I am stumped what to say about what I do, I usually find myself having to clarify in the most simplest of terms what a potter or ceramics designer does. Often I have to say, "I work with clay. I make vases, bowls, plates things like that". It isn't the public's fault; the times have changed, our work has changed, our purposes have changed. Our clientele has changed and we have no dedicated press.
John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#5 Diana Ferreira

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:18 AM

I see myself/what I do as being a creative. I guess I could also refer to myself as a designer. (but never as an Artist ...)

Although I use industrial techniques, everything that I make is handled by me through each stage of the production. Right from cutting the master, casting molds, to the final wash and light sanding after I have unpacked the glaze kiln.
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#6 Natania

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:16 PM

I could be off the mark, but sometimes I get the feeling that when I say "I'm a potter" I get thought of as crafty, but when a man says it, they are sometimes seen as a more serious artisan. Not all the time of course, but it does seem that the crafty label can be applied in a somewhat sexist manner.. Am I just paranoid? My work is functional and not at all cutesy...

#7 BeckyH

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:08 AM

I think this is an artificial devide created by the sellers of "art" to justify the specialness of what they sell. Aesthetic expression is just as important in the creation of functional objects as it is in the creation of non-functional objects. And to claim that there is no craft in creating art? Ha! Even (or especially) in modern abstract art-the stuff you think "a four year old can do that!-the artist needed the ability to manipulate their chosen medium to get the result they wanted.
And we all know that artless-as it were- craftsmanship creates crap. Look at the series of blog posts about surface treatments. Most of those are being applied to dishware. What function does fantastic glazing serve, if not to connect aesthetically with the user? To convey the creator's desired emotional response to hir work? Haven't we all made pieces that had no "soul", and promptly relegated them to the recycling pile?
So as crafters, (ugh, horrible word) we should just sit over here in the corner, looking up adoringly at the "real" artists, and be content with having a lower value placed on our work? Why not let the buyers decide what they think an object is worth?
I am also unconvinced that the crafts are dead.

#8 Chris Campbell

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

Being a craftsperson used to be an accomplishment ... BUT ... that was in the days of 'Guilds' where you actually had to attain a peer reviewed level of competence before you could claim the title. Now, people get extremely angry when anyone suggests they should submit to anyone else's view of their work and no one who values their sanity wants to serve on a panel that would review the work. Times have changed so its no wonder the value of the word has changed as well.
I wouldn't mind being called a potter if people didn't immediately ask about a set of dishes. Ceramics doesn't work because then it's all about the "painting on stuff you put in the oven", right? I find the least confusion when I say I am an artist who works with colored porcelain. They still have no idea what that is but it seems easier to move on in the conversation.
I do wish there was meaning to the word craftsperson ... the value of spending years learning to do one thing extremely well should be celebrated.

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#9 Diane Puckett

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:25 PM

Here in Asheville, if I tell someone I am a potter, they generally assume I make extraordinary work, as this area is overflowing with fabulous potters, many of whom are in the Southern Highlands Craft Guild. The few times I have told someone in NYC that I am a potter, they look at me like I am a space alien, so now when I am NYC, I just say I have a ceramics studio. I don't know that it matters what we tell people, as it is so subjective, based on their experience, perception, and assumptions. It would take a heck of an ad agency and more money than we could come up with to change that. Thank goodness it is easier than ever to have a website or cards with photos of our work.

I do like the term artisan but don't often think of it. To me it implies the knowledge and experience that is so willingly shared. But I figure if people are okay with calling Hamada a potter, I am honored to be one.

For what it is worth, the same issue was present in my pre-retirement profession.
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#10 JBaymore

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:06 PM

But I figure if people are okay with calling Hamada a potter, I am honored to be one.


Before the Europeans arrived in Japan in force, there was no term to differentiate "fine art" from "crafts".

I have always subscribed to that concept. I'm an artist.

best,

............john
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#11 Christine

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:05 PM

Before the Europeans arrived in Japan in force, there was no term to differentiate "fine art" from "crafts".

I have always subscribed to that concept. I'm an artist.

best,

............john



- me too!


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#12 kilnpriestess

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:12 AM

The concepts of fine art, craft, design and visual art, performance art and new media are constantly shifting and being redefined in academia depending upon where you work and the resources that are at hand. Many institutions today seem eager to create art departments where the student has to figure out what they like and what they want to do for their final undergraduate capstone project and hope in the end that their work is accepted as a valid form of "visual art." This is the case where I am working now and where I have worked in Hong Kong and at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. This type of undergraduate system requires the student to take more independent study classes from professors in the area that they want to have more skills in, such as painting or ceramics, and in the end to work closely with the professor of their choice on their final body of work. This creates a lot of extra work for everyone who has to teach independent classes without pay, but who also, conversely, get to produce a student who specializes in their favorite area of expertise. I have found that teaching ceramics in universities that only allow me to teach two ceramic courses that are on the books is very frustrating for me and the students. (We do not have ceramics where I am teaching at the University of Brunei in Darussalam because the large donated kiln will never run and nothing that I have requested by way of equipment has ever materialized.) Because the students can only take one or two independent ceramic classes including the capstone class after their initial two bonafide on the books classes (usually beginning ceramics and advanced) the students become despondent at being locked out of the ceramics lab during much of their undergraduate career. The reasoning behind this is to make them explore other types of art. Anyway, this notion of barely allowing students to specialize in one area of art is perhaps one of the reasons why everything and anything is now just called visual or performance art. Sometimes visual works are simply new media works depending on the title of the area or department where the artwork is being made. A lot of capstone final projects are amalgamations of anything and everything. As a professor I have to go into over-drive to make sure that all of my students can place their work into historical content and at least write an artists statement about their endeavors. Trying to grade all of this new hybrid work is another challenge. I guess that in the end the students themselves do not seem to care if their work falls under the category of fine art or craft, because along the way those terms have been lost. I think that the students feel that if the work is powerful and challenging that the "old" system for labeling their creations no longer matters. Anyway, I am just writing about art terms on one level of usage and not how other art makers or users or educators working under different conditions and settings might define them.

#13 Idaho Potter

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:14 PM

Phooey on the old art vs. craft discussion! Labels only have a virtue in the eye of the person who does the labeling. So, don't let others label you--do it yourself. Call yourself the Grand Poobah Artisan of World Ceramics. If there be some to dispute the title, let them--it makes them feel ever so much superior. Boxes are what we artist potters ship our ware in, not a place where we allow others to place us or our art.

Having worked in most media in my many years on this earth, I have been called many things (some unprintable), and it hasn't made an iota of difference in what I pursue or produce in art.

Shirley

#14 Frederik-W

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:17 AM

What an absolute brilliant opinion piece by Garth Clark!

The distinction between between art and craft is a very real and useful concept!
Sometimes the distinction is vague but that does not mean there is no difference.
The problem if i uderstand him correctly, is not that craft has no value, it is that craft tried to be something which it is not, i.e. art.

Some quotes from Garth's article:


"..craft did die from the toxicity of art envy.."

"Resistance to this notion [that craft was really art] was blamed on fine art's elitism but rarely
did one hear the argument and simple truth that it was so because craft was finally, and beneficially, different".

"Craft has been overdosing on nostalgia ..". Some degree of this "ye olde craftsman" romance is unavoidable in craft. Used with restraint it can add charm and a rich connection to the past. But when it is overdone it turns into syrupy restoration village sentimentality".

"Compared to art and design, craft is so marginalized that it is practically irrelevant".

"Design is undermining the craft market at every level. It can deliver handsome ceramics, fabric and jewelry at low cost. It can produce work that to the average eye seems to be handcrafted and can program machines to produce objects that are to some extent, unique".


#15 neilestrick

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:20 PM

I'm kind of opinionated about this, so I apologize in advance if I offend anyone:
I do not like the term 'artist' on its own. It's much too broad. In my experience, when I meet someone who describes himself/herself as an artist, it usually turns out that they make lots of different things in lots of different media, and are generally a poor craftsperson in all of them. They are what I call 'creative people', who focus more on being creative and less on trying to perfect any skills. These people frustrate me.Posted Image

However, in my experience, when I meet people who define the type of art they make, such as 'graphic artist' or 'industrial designer' or 'painter' or 'fiber artist' or whatever, I generally find that they have really dedicated themselves to their craft, and it shows in the higher quality of their work.

I also do not like it when potters use the term 'ceramic artist'. To me it sounds pretentious, and feels like they are uncomfortable or embarrassed by the term 'potter'. Of course, if you work in clay but don't make pots, then I have no problem with it. But if you've dedicated your life to making pots, then own it!



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#16 trina

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:27 PM

I'm kind of opinionated about this, so I apologize in advance if I offend anyone:
I do not like the term 'artist' on its own. It's much too broad. In my experience, when I meet someone who describes himself/herself as an artist, it usually turns out that they make lots of different things in lots of different media, and are generally a poor craftsperson in all of them. They are what I call 'creative people', who focus more on being creative and less on trying to perfect any skills. These people frustrate me.Posted Image


However, in my experience, when I meet people who define the type of art they make, such as 'graphic artist' or 'industrial designer' or 'painter' or 'fiber artist' or whatever, I generally find that they have really dedicated themselves to their craft, and it shows in the higher quality of their work.

I also do not like it when potters use the term 'ceramic artist'. To me it sounds pretentious, and feels like they are uncomfortable or embarrassed by the term 'potter'. Of course, if you work in clay but don't make pots, then I have no problem with it. But if you've dedicated your life to making pots, then own it!


To me that is exactly what an artist is.  A creative person using many mediums to express something.  Using their creAtive voice as a writer prehaps would to express an idea or opinion. The ability of the artist to use the medium (whatever medium ) aids in the conveyance of the idea, making the work more pleasing or powerful to the viewer.

A crafts person might well have the ablility to produce his work in a flawless manner but in my opinion it doesn't mean much in a metaphysical way. It serves it purpose but has little intellectual meaning.  It can however have the sole purpose to be beautiful for beauties sake alone

In my experience true artists are only forced to define themselves for the people around them, generally they personally don't need that kind of definition. I can't imagine Picasso saying something like " Yes well I am a painter, but I like to do pottery as well"

ooh geeeezzzz martha close the barn doors we got an artist on our hands here!

T

Sorry about typos...ipad

#17 Frederik-W

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:45 PM

One reason why pottery as a craft is dying out is that bygone skills are replaced by technology and know-how.
E.g. In the past great skill was required by a craftsman to stoke a kiln to fire correctly, today an amateur can fire extremely accurately by the flick of a switch.
Factories produce very high quality functional dinner and cookware, a long time ago this required craftsmen.

Of course craftsmen-potters would claim their pots are better and unique and they still have a market and machines cannot make everything. That is true, but simply calling yourself an artist if you are not, does not deal with the issues that Clark raises in his article.

It is getting even worse for craft, as Garth Clark is saying, with the role modern Design plays. Artists can focus on the design (the creative part) and the "craft" (technical) part of the design is to a large extent executed by modern technology. E.g. in the past glazes required great skill to mix, now a designer can choose from a tremendous amount of glazes available off the shelf, he does not need the skill to mix them. He can just specify what his design requires.

Some artists also acquire the necessary skill (craft) for their creations, it is difficult to distinguish between art and craft in such cases.
Sometimes you see a potter producing technically good work, but there is little that is unique or creative - in such cases it does not make sense to pretend to be an artist.



#18 Amy Waller

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:50 PM

Interesting discussion, especially about professional labels. I hate the word crafter and am still surprised that Clark - or anyone - likes it.

Matt Jones responded at length to Garth Clark in a series of blog posts, starting with this one: Critique of a Critic: Rising to Garth Clark's Bait. (There's an overview in a later post: Wrestling with Garth, Post #1: Introduction and Clark's response (Garth Clark Responds) is included, too.) Highly recommended reading. This blog dialogue resulted in Clark coming to North Carolina last October. He visited a number of potteries and participated in events in Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville. Here's a Charlotte Observer article about the symposium at the Mint Museum.

Lots to think about from many points of view.

#19 Claypple

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:57 PM

In the past great skill was required by a craftsman to stoke a kiln to fire correctly, today an amateur can fire extremely accurately by the flick of a switch.
Factories produce very high quality functional dinner and cookware, a long time ago this required craftsmen.
...
It is getting even worse for craft, as Garth Clark is saying, with the role modern Design plays. Artists can focus on the design (the creative part) and the "craft" (technical) part of the design is to a large extent executed by modern technology. E.g. in the past glazes required great skill to mix, now a designer can choose from a tremendous amount of glazes available off the shelf, he does not need the skill to mix them. He can just specify what his design requires.

Some artists also acquire the necessary skill (craft) for their creations, it is difficult to distinguish between art and craft in such cases.
Sometimes you see a potter producing technically good work, but there is little that is unique or creative - in such cases it does not make sense to pretend to be an artist.



"Sometimes you see a potter producing technically good work, but there is little that is unique or creative - in such cases it does not make sense to pretend to be an artist."


I cannot agree more!!!! And I agree with what Neil said. "Artistic mind" is a set of mind, a gift, not a skill you can learn.
I often catch myself finding more art in a randomly dropped leaves on the ground than in replicas of Mona Lisa.

However, been an amateur potter, I do respect a lot the professional skill that most of you on this forum have.

Whatever you call yourself: a crafter, a potter, does not matter, as long as it does not offend your unique profession.
The artist, however, can be an artist in whatever they do.





#20 Jess

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:41 PM

http://art224.files....ark_envy001.pdf

I have just read this article, and it was good to read something that I have always believed to be true (without 'real proof'). I also always get mildly irritated by crafters referring to their work as 'art'.

What say you?


"
Ahhhh... this is exactly what I am dealing with. I am currently writing my MFA thesis which deals with many of the issues raised in Garth Clark's article and mentioned here on this forum. In a "A Theory of Craft" Howard Risatti discusses the issue of craft vs art, I highly suggest anyone working in a craft based medium read this book for a greater understanding of contemporary craft/art. There are so many factors that go into determining craft/art; the makers intent, the function of the piece, the social content/message in the work just to name a few.
It comes down to what your work is about and where you situate yourself in the contemporary discourse. Artists working in ceramics or another medium must be able to back up their work with theory and content, this is a key difference between craft and art. Also those working in a craft-based medium need the technical skills and knowledge necessary for good craftsmanship even if they go by the title "artist".
When I am asked what I do I say I am a ceramic artist, some of my work is functional some is not and I do not mind if someone refers to me as potter, titles after all are subjective.




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