Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Dilemma

Definition of Art - The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments or experiences that can be shared with others
Definition of Craft - An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.

I have a problem and would like to invite your opinions. If you have followed this blog during the course of my degree you will know that I have been interested in the dilemma of what should be defined as art or what should be defined as craft, It was even central to my dissertation . Personally I came to the conclusion that although  craft is perceived as something of lower value than so called fine art many areas defined as craft contain exquisite pieces of 'art' so why on earth is there this distinction.
Now I am in the real world away from academia and over the last year I have been struggling as to where I should place myself and my work. I would love to keep fighting the fight to destroy this differentiation but practically I need to find my place.
I have been mixing with both the fine art world and the world of craft (by which I mean 'craft' of the highest quality, things that will be the antiques and treasures of the future) and I think I now know into which world I fit, am most comfortable. For me fine art now seems to be all about concept- about how well you can talk the talk rather than how beautiful or emotionally moving a piece is and to be brutal a lot about snobbery (has anyone been watching the latest 'Show me the Monet' program on BBC?. If I hear something degraded for being 'decorative' once more I shall throw something through the TV! Something doesn't have to be ugly, badly created or depressing to mean something to the artist or the audience.) To be quite honest when I am surrounded by the world of 'fine art' I get this niggling feeling of being trapped within 'the emperor's new clothes.
So obviously this is not my world - I feel my work has concept but I also like it to have beauty, I comment on the world in the way I see it and if people think that's a bit Disney, tough! But I also value skill and perfection of technique and when I mix with 'craftsmen' I see the same values. There is no pretense , no 'bullshit' basically just real passion . I like them more, they are real people who I am honored to be associated with - so after a year of soul searching this is my place. I know many will say you shouldn't define yourself ,be an artist. But real life isn't like that , the world will define you whatever so do you keep fighting this issue and stop producing because it effects your work or do you find peace and concentrate on moving your work forward.
Now for the dilemma for which I would like your input. It may seem a little thing but its bugging me. I need to get some more business cards printed but how should I now define myself for the client. Fellow craftsmen who work in other disciplines seem to be able to do this with much more ease - jewellery designer, ceramicist, blacksmith, furniture designer,etc... but what does someone who works with textiles call themselves. I am not a weaver, I work with fibre and stitch- so not a feltmaker .. If I call myself a textile craftsmen people think you make curtains? Any ideas? I feel if I can nail this it will be the last piece in the puzzle and allow me to move forward rather than waffling around as I have done for the past year. I need to move on.


Diane Kelsey said...

Textile Artist

Heather said...

That's a beautiful piece of work. Why not call yourself a textile artist?

Miriam Weaver said...

Textile Artist, and forget about the ignorant who think it means curtains, or taking up their trousers/skirts etc!

Beverley said...

I changed my business cards from Textile Artist to Mixed Media Artist. I've found that it seems to open more doors, at least raise more interest. There is still the prejudice of granny's traycloths from exhibition spaces. I like Textile Artist, but it didn't quite seem right. Somehow not quite enough, as I'm not a pure worker in fibres. We use multiple products, paints, dyes, fibres, found objects, items suited to the end result over items specifically textile. I truly think as creative stitchers we are very much Mixing the Media. But its still a quandary....
Of course there is always Contemporary Textile Artist....

Gina said...

Well said Chris, there is far too much pretension and "Emperor's New Clothes" out there. I find "Textile Artist" works for me but nothing wrong with calling yourself "Artist"

stitching and opinions said...

I have come to the conclusion that a carftsperson perfects his skill in the chosen craft and an artist explores and develops further. We have to choose which we are, both are equally valid, without the skills of the craftsperson where would we be to develop from. Thus it is a conundrum that Textile Art departments have been subsumed in Universities into the Arts. I see it as good that they offer so much more scope and rigor, but the basic skills must not be lost, who will teach them. Specially when C&Gs fade away.

Judy Martin said...

I don't call myself anything anymore. I just put my name on the top of my CV and let my exhibition record speak for itself.

To me, it's obvious that I am some kind of artist.
To me, it's obvious that my main media is stitch.

My business cards need to be updated too - I had them printed in 2001 - that's eleven years ago - and they say Judy Martin Textile Artist.

I'll have to think about this some more perhaps. Thought provoking post, Chris, as usual.

Also, thanks for the one that follows re: the olympics. very good.