Saturday, July 28, 2007

Art vs Craft Throwdown

It finally dawned on me this morning while walking through my home that I spend so much time flaunting my craft projects that I have never even mentioned that I'm surrounded by other artists in my life. My mother is a painter and my husband is too, and here I've never really even given them the props they deserve. Shame on me. But it's my blog and I'll dwell on myself if I want to.

by my mother, hanging in our living room

Pete did this one while I was in Paris a few years ago.

Another one by my mother, hanging in our hallway

I really love this one. She did it for our half-bath, of all places.

I've been thinking more and more about craft and art. Growing up, my mother appeared to have drawn a very dark, thick line between the two. Although much may have been lost in translation to my young mind, I gleaned from her the opinion that craft was the purvey of those who crocheted padding on coat hangers and decorated light bulbs as Santa Claus. Art, on the other hand (a camp into which she has two feet firmly planted) was something all together different. It involved a particular vision, a specific subset of had value just because it is, not because it has a practical function.

As someone who loves to create, this stigma against crafts left me feeling confused. I didn't think (and still don't) that I am blessed with the gift of being a fine artist. I can't draw or sculpt or paint... When I visit art museums I gaze upon the works with the same wonder that I feel when I see a spaceship launch or an Olympic athlete perform - the ability to do those things completely eludes me. But I still had this very strong desire to create beautiful (often functional) things, so where did that leave me? I often felt inwardly ashamed of my passion for craft - like I was playing for the intramural team because I couldn't make the Fine Art Varsity team. (**For the record, I must add that I received nothing but adoration and encouragement from my mother in any creative endeavor, blah, blah...not blamin' anything on Mom.)

I secretly have held onto those childhood prejudices until very, very recently. Being a part of an online craft community has literally changed my life, and I become very emotional even writing about it. For the first time I feel that my craft is art. It may never hang in a museum or be auctioned by Christie's, but I am proud of what I create and it makes my home a richer place. Moreover, I now see the crafts of others and experience that "museum" feeling - I am in awe, moved by the expression of their talents. The work that other fine crafters produce has somehow liberated me, validated my own creations, set me free.


Amy said...

I totally understand your sentiments on how crafting makes you feel. I studied art in college and never felt quite at ease in the art dept. I can say that I am very much at ease with some thread and a thimble...connected.

Sew Succulent said...

"connected". perfect word.


Galadriel Thompson said...

Hallelujah! I went to school for fine art and always firmly defended the crafters. Both worlds take talent, heart, and passion. And you are fantastic!