Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Real Discussion!!!

PamDora wrote in the comment section of the previous post:
"You've brought up some really interesting topics in this post and it would be fun to discuss them more. I agree with what you're saying about the difference between art and craft, but then I also think about what draws me to making art quilts is the craft. "

"I like the tangible, touchable aspect of it. There's something about the quilted fabric (when it's artistically done) that to me is the best of craft (as in high-end, ie American Craft) that seems more approachable and humanistic that pure art alone. Does that make any sense?"

It makes absolute sense! No matter what the medium we choose in the art world, there is always the process. When I was in college our sculpture prof took us to the limestone quarry so we could sound our own chunks of rock, pick the one we wanted, haul it back and work on it. Now carving rock with a mallet and chisel is not fast work...very similar to working with fabric. I used to love the feel of all that grit and dust in my hair after working for several hours. Loved to feel the power, loved the question of just where to strike, loved using the different chisels, etc. The same thing when I learned to weld. I just loved working with the torch and the metal and all the huge equipment...the benders, the shapers, the hammers, the pliers and all that fun stuff (in fact I think my husband married me because I came with my own oxy-acetylene rig).

Painting is the same way...some work in glazes, some in impasto, some like to mix it up, some like to keep it pure and simple.

That is the joy of learning how to use the medium one chooses to express themselves in. I cut my teeth on traditional quilts, learning how to accurately piece, how to put a binding on, how to quilt without ripples, how to keep borders flat and all that stuff. Still use a lot of the techniques that I learned in the craft of quiltmaking but now I have taken it to a different level. The craftsmanship is there, however. Just the same if I studied oil painting and mastered the craftsmanship of painting with oil paint...and it does take mastering!

I find the craftsmanship is missing when some artists who work in other mediums come to art quilts. Things get slapped on. Pamela Allen is the first to admit that she had to learn the craftsmanship of quilting when she went from painting to fiber art. And she has learned well.

I still enjoy the final hand sewing of the binding down when the quilt is finished, sewing the sleeve down and putting that label on. It all says that I am finished. But the same was true when I would restretch my canvases after painting, build hokey lathe frames that were stained for show presentation, and signing my work. That said I was finished. Same thing, different method.


Sonji Hunt said...

Nicely said. It's all about learning to voice your creative vision combined with mastering a technique. I think that many people don't care about the quality level of their work and that is a huge failing. Some work may be insanely gorgeous in design and have crappy construction (quilts, painting, collage, sculpture, whatever). I have encountered many people who say "but you have fuzzy raw edges and messy stitching, why isn't that bad technique?" It is so hard to explain to some that THIS frazzled edge is part of a developed style and is more sophisticated and alludes to primitivism as opposed to THAT frazzled edge, which appears to be a mistake. One looks incorporated purposefully and the other looks awkward. Then there is real primitivism that actually is awkward yet still completely unified. AGHHHHHH. Art. It's great.

gabrielle said...

Liz, couldn't agree more. Bad technique get in the way of good art; great technique won't save a piece with no heart. And I am so over this art and craft thing, i want to gag...just do the work...leave the labeling to someone who has a time to not work.