Since this debate comes up time and time again, it seems clear that no one can win this argument. However, not every argument is meant to be won or lost. I submit that some comparisons are not logical and the argument itself only serves to limit our imaginations and fuel resentments that divide the creative community. It’s not like comparing apples to oranges. “Art vs. Craft” would be like comparing “Cuisine vs. Recipe” – we are attempting to define one exclusive of the other, which is impossible.
Art is not a separate “world” from Craft. These two things are not entities themselves but rather they are specific aspects of all creative work.
CRAFT is technique; it requires discipline, practice and repeatability. A Craft is a learned skill; it can even be used to describe an action. To craft something means to make or build an object. Whether or not an object displays good or bad craftsmanship can be determined by specific and measurable standards.
Great artists have worked to master their chosen craft, using it as a tool to explore new ideas and express complex emotions. We can respect the techniques that have been passed down to us by the quilting world even when we choose to break all their rules in our latest art quilt. You can put it in a frame, on the wall or on a bed. When we create within this realm, we are building on the work of generations of quilt makers. On the other side-
ART is not a physical object. ART is an expression of thought, emotion and/or intent. ART is communication. When we create a work of art, we are reaching out to the world because we have something to say. Sometimes the viewer understands our communication. Maybe our execution of certain techniques gets in the way of our message and the viewer misses it entirely. Other times, the viewer interprets the work with their own unique perspective, adding nuance to our original intent. ART depends on that moment of connection between two or more people: the artist and the viewer(s). It cannot be measured or judged by a set of precice standards. Whether something is “good” or “bad” art is a completely subjective opinion. Therefore ART can never be truly “perfected”.
To create art is to be vulnerable. We expose our deepest feelings and thoughts, and we put them on display. It takes courage. And each one of us has to build up our nerve, explore our souls, find our passion and strive for honesty in our work. We all search for ways to express ourselves. Developing a craft is just a way to connect with our work and expand our communication skills.
One day I find that fabric works better than paint in expressing feelings coming from deep inside me. Does that mean I have abandoned the ‘fine art’ world and entered the world of ‘craft’? No. I am an artist that may craft my work out of fabric or clay or paint, or whatever I find useful to express my ideas.
The artistry of Craft depends on the intentions of its creator. At the same time, there can be no Art unless someone has taken a material and crafted it into something else. Every time we create, we are a combination of artist and craftsperson.