Monday, December 8, 2008

bazaar art and crafts

This weekend I attended my local elementary school Christmas Bazaar. It is a funny concept, making a craft be it hats, coasters, paintings or one of the countless variations of creative product, then sitting in a school gymnasium selling your wares. I was struck by the variety, even amongst the many earring makers, scarf creators or greeting card producers. Everyone has their own hand, their own eye, their own sense of beauty. As they sit casually behind the tables each artist is a version of their own art. Kind of an inanimate version of themself. I don't think many of the crafts people who sell their work at small bazaars make any money, they are lucky to break even on costs to produce goods let alone make any money for the countless hours required to make the piece and then sit and wait in a dimly lit gym for sales. So why do it? I think it is the same reason that no matter how many rejection letters we get, we keep on making art. Because at our core we are the art. We can't help but make it. We can't help but be it. How is this different than Art?

When I was in college I remember the great divide between the 'commercial' artists and the 'fine' artists. We, the Illustrators and Designers were the sell outs. We did our art with a client in mind. But the fine artists they were the 'real' artists. Expression for the sake of expression. How would those same classmates feel about the craftsperson and their recycled-felted-sweaters-around-hot-water-bottles? Are they the real artists? They certainly don't have dreams of grandeur like many of my classmates, but every bit of what they make is relevant as an expression of self. I think they absolutely are artists. I don't think the medium or the education matters. So what makes it a craft and what makes it art? Can't the two be one? Where is that line? I think some would say Art serves a higher purpose as a social commentary. Well I think some Craft makers serve the same purpose. Maybe the line is blurrier in some artists that others. I would ask if Bob Ross and his big magic brush is an artist then. I think it is a very hard argument to make that Art is so much higher purposed, when some of that very art is a ball of string. How is that ball of string different than a ball of string on a wire that you put through your ear? Isn't it still about purpose? Isn't the earring maker still making a statement?


Judith Hunt said...

Being both a crafter and an illustrator I appreciated your observations. I am also a cartoonist, a comic book artist, a fine artist, and an art teacher, besides being a illustrator.
Crossing the line over the years has been both interesting and challenging.
And yes, it is all about making ART!

KarmasKreations said...

First off, it was wonderful to have met you there! Thank you so much for the good ju-ju gift. I often have a hard time knowing what to call myself. I pretty much consider myself to be a "crafter." I think it is due to the way I grew up and also b/c I'm worried I met offend "real" artists by calling myself one. When I was a kid, school and society taught me that art is something is in musuems (such as paintings and sculptures). Boy was I surprised when I was older and got to make a trip to the Musuem of Modern Art in New York!