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November 01, 2009

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Another very thought provoking post. I like the maker. It seems to fit better then myself getting all caught up in whether I am an "artist" or a "crafter" both of which titles have been giving me fits lately.


Deidre, thank you for a great comment. I like that idea about art and craft, and Im definitely going to have to read that book, pronto. Did you read Joanne Matteras post about being an artist without an adjective? Iwill blog a link to it tonight or tomorrow. Very provocative discussion. I think I agree with her to some extent, with caveats (of course).

Im afraidI will miss your opening tonight at Translations-- let me know how it goes. I have a cold/sinus thing going on that wont let up and is making me extremely tired and grumpy.

Very interesting post. Does the term "artist" imply certain expectations, and therefore instill a fear of not being able to live up to those expectations? I know for myself, it took me a long time and I had to reach a certain level of confidence in what I was doing before I had the nerve to call myself an artist. And when I finally did, no one laughed (at least in my presence), and nothing really bad or really great happened as a result. Before that, even though I was making all kinds of things, it was only for my own gratification. I wouldn't have given myself a label of any kind, because as you say, it only matters once you have to start defining yourself for others.

As for that age-old conundrum on the difference between art & craft, the book Art & Fear (Bayles & Orland) has one of the best explanations I've seen. They say that the question must be considered not for a single piece in isolation, but within the context of multiple pieces made by the same person. It's craft when a person does the same basic thing over and over, and it's art when there's a conceptual leap from one piece to the next. (Of course there's some relativity involved there too, but I thought this was a useful way of looking at it.)

So under that definition, even painters, who make that most privileged form of art, are not really artists if they are making repetitive work according to some formula that they've decided works for them. It all has to do with intent: are you challenging yourself, or are you just going through the motions, basically doing production work? And to muddy the water even more, what about the whole idea of conceptual art, where the level of craft/artisanship is intentionally low, with the idea taking precedence over the process?

For a lot of people, it doesn't matter in the slightest. They make things because it gives them satisfaction to do it. They don't need to worry about how to label it.

On another note, thanks so much for the links to the adventures of Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka. I had the privilege of meeting them when I was in Ohio last summer, and it was fascinating to hear about what they were doing in Indonesia. It's great to see these photos of the process.

I'm always inspired by your thoughtful posts and find myself learning so much from the rich wealth of links you provide. Thank you for all your work on this blog!

I am continually thinking about the labels in art. To say one is an artist seems to create some kind of complex analysis or presumption. I like the idea of "maker", but it would seem to address a category of craft, exclusive of art (fine art). No easy answers here, but creating is for me enough to imply art-making. Period.

I love, absolutely love the furniture. Wow! It is great. ABC is a great store, very inspiring.

I love reading your blog. There are always so many things here to contemplate. You have a gift, and I am happy and feel honored to be able to visit.


A great comment, Glennis - thank you - and Make On is a terrific rallying cry. Embracing the identify of maker feels productive and energetic to me, as I often stew about whether I should be using my time for art or making something more functional. Sometimes, in the stew, I end up doing nothing. If I decide to just go make something, I can bypass some of my own useless ambivalence. I guess thats what I was trying to say. . .

further thinking along these lines...

sometimes "craft" is an entry point for many to discover where their interest in art or craft may lie. sometimes making serves as an activity that gives esteem or makes one feel good.
making something by your own hand as a gift has value on many levels both for the maker and the one on the receiving end of the gift.

intention has something to do with it as well. and focus. a well crafted artwork is something i admire(i've seen my share of shoddy art and exceptionally artful craft). usually, there is a history of practice that precedes this sort of quality. perhaps even a lifetime of it.

when i was teaching art in the elementary classroom i often heard kids say " i'm not good" at art/drawing/or whatever it was we were going to do. we continually were teaching that this was a practice. that what we wanted to teach them was really a different way of seeing. reminding them that they are spending years in school learning to read & write and improve on those skills. art is really no different. making it accessible to them. that was really our intention. making it a possibility in their life-regardless on how it might become of use to them later on.
personally, i was told so many times in different ways throughout my life that what i was doing (or wanted to do) wasn't feasible- in great part i owe my own small successes more to those that said i couldn't do it than to those who said i could- but that's just (stubborn)me.
basically, i see that people enjoy 'making' on whatever level they choose to do it.

make on!

i make, therefore i am. some days my making is art, some days craft. (other days just crap!) or so i see it.

an interesting tag, a maker. i want to think about that a bit. i think the artist crowd might think of that as crafty. but i am not sure. i too am thinking about labels lately, more about that soon.
as always, fab links.

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