Thursday, March 09, 2006

Art vs. Craft 

This is an old old old old discussion. It is such an emotional trigger in the needlework world and such a subjective sort of set of judgments. What is art? What is craft? One man's trash is another man's treasure for sure. That is unless you are trying to explain that concept to a Chinese tourist guide. With no cultural tags to work with - Mr. Lee was clueless about the idea of value of objects (intrinsic and extrinsic value). He also didn't have any luck with - It's not over 'til the fat lady sings. One problem with Chinese values is to be set at the feet of the Cultural Revolution in my opinion. I found many Chinese uninterested in sites or items of historic value. If given a choice of vacation - they would prefer a visit to a place of scenic beauty, not a historic site. But then it works for them and their culture.

That said, many craftsfolk feel their work is art, few artists feel their work is craft. We have assigned a greater value to "fine art" (basically useless stuff to be looked at) rather than "decorative art" (basically pleasingly designed or decorated stuff that can be used for some practical purpose).

Now I'm being flip here. I appreciate painting, sculpture, etc. but I do feel that they have a huge craft/skills component with an added veneer of aesthetic values whereas decorative arts consist of craft/practical use/aesthetic values. Now there is "bad art" and "bad craft" (i.e. unskillfully executed). Now assigning "bad" designations to those arts and crafts that are merely not to my taste seems a bit excessive. Remember - one man's trash is another man's treasure.

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