I used to snub my nose at craft. For some reason, as I studied fine art, I was convinced that craft had a place beneath art, maybe reserved for those with less creativity. Oh boy.
A few summers ago, my family visited the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba. As I walked through the exhibit in their Permanent Gallery, I began to feel embarrassed because of my assumptions and attitude toward craft. The care with which these pieces were created put many of my own artworks to shame.
There is something to be said for the refinement of technique; the quality that grows from repetition, practice and development of skill.
This morning, I attempted to create a pencil charm using my daughter’s Rainbow Loom (I had gained the confidence to try after successfully making her a bracelet yesterday). I was making something, but I don’t feel that I was being original, because I was following instructions in a step-by-step format. Someone else had thought of the design, and I was merely becoming familiar with the technique. But is this something that should be frowned upon? No, I don’t believe it is.
If I continued to develop my skills with the Rainbow Loom (and all of those wonderful elastics that have now invaded every room in my house), I would soon feel confident to begin experimenting and creating my own designs. Perhaps, I could even start to express ideas visually using an unassuming material such as small, colourful elastics. Think this is a stretch? Consider the work of Olek, and her crochet/conceptual/street art. Hmm, the lines between craft and art are beginning to blur…
~~ Craft, technique, skill, craftsmanship… ~~
- Do we rush our students, in an effort to cover as many topics as we deem appropriate for one of our classes?
- If they are hoping to develop their skills, are they losing out because they have fewer final artworks to display?
- Is the emphasis on process vs. product considered an investment, since we are helping our students to develop the skills needed to produce quality art?
- How much time should be devoted to technique?
What are your experiences? Does this relate to current conversations about teacher-directed vs. student-directed learning? What about process vs. product? Feel free to comment.