June 21st, 2005

Mama Deb

(no subject)

I've had the chance to watch this series on HGTV called "Crafters from Coast-to-Coast", and now I'm trying to figure where the line is between "art" and "craft."

Years ago, I had a friend who was an artist. I didn't like what she did particularly, but it was powerful and strong and clearly "art" - there was meaning behind her shapes and colors, even if it didn't speak to me, and if she used her own techniques, it was only after she'd learned the more traditional ones.

So. One woman makes minature round scrapbooks (and can I just say how much I hate using the word "scrapbook" as a verb? Because I know languages evolve and all, but this usage hurts.)and it's cute with stickers and buttons and such, and that's craft. Another makes stained glass boxes with elaborate lids and they're beautiful and just what you'd expect to see in a high-end gift shop, and where is that? Especially when that same woman takes scraps of stained glass and the occasional clear round button and makes a suncatcher that's pure light and color - and is that art?

What about the woman who makes dolls that feel more like soft sculpture, or the other one who makes glass beads for hairsticks? Glass beads with human faces? Or - this is the one that got me thinking.

She was from Ohio, and she was bouncy and perky in her little pink sweater, and she made a cheeseboard. But the cheeseboard was made in a modern and beautiful house decorated with her own paintings, and she used dramatic colors and swirls of soldering wire to make something that was, yes, kitschy, but kitschy on purpose. And in my eyes, it looked like art. Just like, when she took a shoe shaped papier mache base and made a vase out of it - it was kitsch, but there was something else about it.

I don't know. On the same show, they had a Navajo woman making a traditional rug - carding, spinning and dyeing the wool, and then taking two months to make the small rug. And how does that fit with hairstick beads and kitschy cheeseboards?

I'm not making fun of the crafters - they're being creative and enjoying themselves and creating things of use or beauty or fun. And I'm just wondering where the line is.