Thursday, December 30, 2010

favorite craft-based work of 2010

abigail doan...see the original post here.

karin birch...see the original post here.

matthew harris...see the original post here.

melissa vogley woods...see the original post here.

see this post for what the posts this week are about.

hello all, i received a very interesting (and unfortunately anonymous) comment on this post. please read the comments section of this post to see it and my answer. one of the main reasons i put this blog together is to change this kind of thinking!!
i would like to hear what you all think on this subject. please leave your comments in the comments section of this post. thanks!


  1. I think that the description, "craft-based", demeans this very fine work.

  2. i teach at tyler school of art in the fiber area, CRAFTS department, which encompasses fibers, ceramics, metals and glass. unfortunately, tyler does not have a woodworking major or it would also be included in this department.
    there is a long and very interesting history of fine craftwork in this and many other countries. the work above are perfect examples of such. abigail doan uses crochet as a basis for her work, karin birch uses embroidery, matthew harris and melissa vogley woods both use quilting--techniques, all of which, are craft-based.
    it truly saddens me that because of ignorance and a lack of understanding of craft history, highly regarded craft institutions are ridding themselves of the name 'craft' rather than educate the public that craft itself is and can be a fine art.
    it is because of fine artists such as those shown in this post, that fine craft will never die.

  3. I agree with you Lorraine, These are craft-based AND fine art. I don't see why people seem to think that crafts can't be "real art" or that "real art" can't be considered a craft. I guess the memory of grade school "arts and crafts", using popsicle sticks and glitter, is what sticks in people's head (although I have seen some amazing art using glitter!) and makes them think of the word "craft" with negative connotations. Our local art school (in SF) got rid of the word "craft" from their title a few years back. I guess they were tired of the jokes about taking crocheting and glitter as a major. It's truly sad.

    Thanks for your wonderful posts! I love the daily inspiration it gives me!!

  4. thanks, jhina. yes, i know about the art school in sf changing their name. this is one of the highly regarded institutions i refer to above. very sad.

    thanks for your comment!

  5. Maybe we need to always say "Fine Craft" like we say "Fine Art". And always Craft with a capital C. Maybe a fancy italic hand-carved woodblock capital C.

  6. Before reading this blog, I'm not really sure if I had ever seen fine craft, or at least took it into the consideration and appreciation that I do now. i very much enjoy your posts.

  7. Thanks, Lorraine, for clarifying what you intended. I agree that we have demeaned the word, and fibre artists are particularly sensitive about it. I would prefer to say that I am an artist and I work with fibre. So sad that we get hung up with these descriptors.
    Thanks for your blog. I look at it every morning. Happy New Year!
    Joanne in Canada

  8. Extraordinary work! I remember each of these when you posted them during the year and how much I loved them. Thank you for your always inspiring posts.

  9. thank you all so much for your comments! i take the art/craft debate very seriously and want this blog to be a place where the lines between the two are not only blurred, but remain distinct. thank you all for your readership and appreciation!!

  10. Lorraine, Thank you so much for including my work here, how wonderful.

    I don’t find craft a put down and here is why.

    Before I started working in fiber, I study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the Corcoran School of Art, both Fine Art Institutions, which by the way, could not be more opposite from one another in approach. I have also studied at Penland and John Campbell Folk School, which are both craft schools. I learned everywhere I went. Basically I have worked in almost all the disciplines/medium without regard to whether they were craft or fine art, in a thorough search for materials and processes that I could fall in love with and be articulate with. I have been deeply influenced by both worlds, and have not chosen to see them so separately as many seem to do.

    I call myself an artist, I also call myself a fiber artist, mostly to clarify somewhat for others benefit, but really my work is a hybrid of art and craft. As it happens most of my more stellar career opportunities have come from the craft world: Museum of Art and Design (formerly American Craft Museum), SOFA, publication in Craft Magazine, winning grants in craft categories, work in the permanent collection of the Renwick (Smithsonian American Craft Collection)…etc.

    What does concerns me is how hard it is to find viewers who are willing to engage and talk about their personal reaction to the work, which is much more interesting to me than what category it belongs to. Or, what this economy is doing to creative folks. At some point it’s just going to be too difficult to continue working in a time consuming medium, as a career, in this case partly because craft/skill/handwork is devalued. Or what does it mean for society to loose connection with our hands in our daily life as we use them less and less for making, in our infatuation with cheap goods, love of technology and our disinterest in quality?

  11. thanks so much for your comments and thoughts, karin. i appreciate hearing from someone whose work is a subject of this post.
    i also get frustrated by the categories the art world forces upon us as my work is also a hybrid of sorts as well. but at the same time, i don't want to lose the importance, understanding and history of finely crafted work.
    i agree with you that time consuming work is so undervalued, but i try to look forward to what sites like etsy and ideas like the slow movement are trying to do as far as keeping the appreciation of the hand and making something with it, alive. as long as i'm a teaching artist i will work toward promoting this thinking for the next generation of makers.