Art or Craft

We have this discussion often in our house- what is art and what is craft? Usually, it comes up when we're looking at festivals to apply to and they're named "Arts and Crafts Fair" or "Fine Art Show". If it says "Fine Art", we generally steer clear. But the question of art or craft comes up quite a bit. We've had long conversations about this, as well as about the value of prints vs original work, etc. Art or craft seems to be an impossible question and one that has the potential to offend someone on either side. There are those stories about a man putting a toilet in a gallery and calling it art "because I say it's art".  There are artists who no longer make the work, but rather have workers do the actual WORK, but they are the "creator". See? It goes on and on.

    Well, when we did Crafty Bastards recently, I was sitting there watching David work on a head when no one else was in the booth. And it hit me out of nowhere. He wasn't creating with his HANDS as much as with his MIND and HEART. His hands were doing the work of manipulating the clay, but the vision and the creation was coming from somewhere deeper. The expression of an idea, the message, the true soul of the piece wasn't in his hands. His hands were a tool that his creative mind was using.

    When he talks about his artwork, he always says "I can draw and I can paint, but it never comes easy. These make themselves". I can relate a little to that because I always wanted to be a writer. I would toil over my typewriter for hours and hours on stories and always had a hard time ending them. They were terrible and I am not at all telling this story with any kind of ego, but one day, I sat down and this story came THROUGH me. It wrote itself. When I reread it, I started shaking and read it to my best friend, who cried. The story won a writing contest and I never did much editing to it. That happened once and never again. I was simply a conduit for something bigger. But David does this every day. He's made over 4,000 heads and each one is different. I watched it happen. I watched him create and I thought, "This is it. This is what art is. The origin isn't his hands, it's his heart". People respond with emotion TO the emotion. They see the joy that he is expressing when he creates.

  We may never answer these questions, and really what difference would it make if we could? But it was such a moment of understanding something deeper that day. And now when I look at his work, I see it even more for what it really is and see how others might view it. And also view all creative endeavors. None of this is meant to offend or at all imply that I have the answers. And certainly not to imply that craft is less valuable! If you're making something and it makes you happy, I say keep it up and ultimately, it doesn't matter what "category" it would fall into.

Thanks for reading-

Elisabeth