I just finished reading Jon Sutter’s post titled, “Contemporary Craft: Non-Functional or Dysfunctional?”, and I was immediately set to pondering. In his brief essay, he discusses the all but dead state of craft in our society. He notes, “The California Academy of Craft” dropping the “Craft” from their title, and the “American Craft Museum’s” complete name change to “Museum of Art and Design,” as examples of craft’s death. What happened? How did craft get a bad rap? When did the term “Fine craftsmanship” get replaced by “superior design?”
Sutter argues that “…Aesthetic choices in art are wholly suffused with the economic circumstances of life.” This truth is easy to explain. “Craft” defined as objects made by hand, blood and sweat, cannot easily compete with those that are mass produced and cost effective. An exquisite dress hand sewn with love cannot compete with a major clothier producing similar items. A gorgeous hand detailed picture book is unlikely to be sold at Taschen’s prices. Production is what makes or breaks the crafter. What we desire most of all, the elegantly hand touched details, are what we can not afford.
What I make is rarely for sale. Craft for me is a creative way to spice up my house, wardrobe, bookshelves, and day to day life. So for me this discussion has been (gratefully) an engagement in intellect and emotion rather than pocketbook. Thank You