Arts Versus Crafts

11 Feb

Summer from Mom Is Teaching posted an interesting discussion about crafts. As a former public school art teacher with a BFA degree, this really struck a cord with me. Through all my art training, and even my art education training, crafts were poo-pooed as beneath any sensible and serious artist’s dignity. Crafts are a “lower” art form, and should not even be considered art at all. Okay, we’re talking about children here, and this is just too much snobbery for me (and I’ve got an art degree and collections in universities). Really. Who cares if someone wants to do crafts. I think we should support each other’s need (and attempts) for creativity. (I guess that’s why I never made it big in the “art world”).

The problem with “fine” art is that it has become so far removed from everybody’s everyday understanding. Isn’t that what made the Impressionists so important? They touched on things that “normal” people could understand-light and life. Art is important, and it makes me angry to see the segregation. Everybody should be able to enjoy art, but most of the art world shows such scathing disdain for the rest of the world; they hold themselves apart and think themselves superior. It’s totally maddening.

Now, with that said, I do hold to some important concepts. The most important thing to understand is that making crafts does not necessarily mean that you are learning or teaching about ART. If you are using paints and other art materials to illustrate something you have learned about the Civil War, you are learning about the Civil War and not art-you are just using art materials. If, while creating that illustration you learn about the concept of perspective and color theory, then you have a lesson on art.

It’s a fine line, but an important distinction. If you want to make crafts – craft away. But it’s not an art lesson unless you are learning about specific art concepts.

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