Friday, May 23, 2008

Art and crafts are often seen as distinct from each other, one falling into the category of functional and the other, non-functional, and yet we know that the boundaries are indistinct, and intellectually indefensible. Even a painting serves the function of bringing color into a room, filling empty wall space and making the room less sterile and uninviting, while A piece of wood, carved into a spoon to stir soup for feed a child can involve an artistic vision, a knowledge of materials and application of attention rivaling that required for the production of any of the "finer" arts.

The difference between crafts and fine arts is much less about the making of the object than with what we are supposed to do with the object once it is made... the distance we are to take from it in our observation and use. Paintings have to be viewed at the right distance. Museums are full of things behind glass or roped off to prevent touch. But distance is not an appropriate word for the engagement of craft objects. In use, there is touch, the antithesis of distance. The craft object must engage the hand for its full depth of meaning to be understood.

We have the concept of art in our lives because we have created distance, separation, barriers, between each of us, and within us as well... the extinction of creative spirit in our daily lives. There is an antidote. It is called "making." Today I have my last class of the school year. The 3rd and 4th grade students will be printing book plates. I have been working on a spoon in which I am trying to avoid sanding. The inside of the bowl will be sanded, but all the rest of the surfaces are being formed through tiny cuts with a sloyd knife. The idea is that each cut requires precise knowledgeable application of attention, and the spoon itself is a composite of each tiny deliberate slice. I'll have results to show later in the day.

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