Get Crafty – even in the Michael’s kind of way

Love that in the April issue of Metropolis magazine, there was a sizable article on the re-emergence of “craft” in the art and design world. (A Return to the Hand: Janet Abrams) So, what does “craft” mean, exactly? Simply put — art that requires you to build it with your own hands. This would exclude illustrator drawings, CAD modeling, and digital photography, for example. Also, it would seem to exclude paintings and sculptures in the traditional sense.

I have seen this happening myself. In 2009, I saw several artists at the Miami Art Fair whose work was craft-oriented. Here are some photos:

Mark Wagner: Wagner creates 2-D pieces which consist entirely of currency. Exacto-knife genius! Look closely at image below.

Brian Dettmer: Here’s another artist who works in paper and blades. Dettmer uses books as the raw material for 3D pieces.  I saw this one in Miami, as well.

Unfortunately, I did not get to catalog everything I saw on that trip, here are some other images:

A studded moped (with JB)

Here I am with Rolling Stones executed in spools of thread

Last one from Miami — an ode to an artistic compromise between my love of shiny and my dad’s love of taxidermy.

About of year ago, I was at the Museum of Arts and Design “Dead or Alive” show and saw these:

Jodie Carey “In the Eyes of Others”  Yes, a chandelier made from bones.

Keith Bentley “Cauda Equina” Here we have a critter made of 1.4 million hand-knotted horse hairs.

Although not all of us have the patience to create these painstakingly intricate works, I think its wonderful that as art viewers and collectors we are re-claiming our humanity through these types of projects. I think that somewhere in the imperfection of “by hand” pieces lies a more accessible work of art. When looking at a digital photo or computer generated design, it is easy to think, “well, if I had that software I would be able to do that, too.” These types of works almost insist that we feel compassion for the artist. (“Wow, I could never have done that. Can you imagine how long that took?” JB has to listen to  me say this all the time!) Then, even if we do not “like” a piece we can respect the effort it took to make it and subsequently the artist and work themselves.

There is also a temporal component to works like these. To quote Janet Abrams in her article,  “making by hand puts you in touch with duration and offers an antidote to our cultural obsession with the immediate. It brings you face-to-face with gravity and the fascinating nature of physical matter.”

What does this mean? You should get crafty! Hit up Michael’s or Texas Art Supply. Draw, scrapbook, make some jewelry. Take an art class! You might find that you are not as retarded with your hands as you think you are and you might find a project that allows you to focus attentively on something that has nothing to do with work or house cleaning. And because of that, you might actually feel a little bit happier.

To get more information about craft and art you should check these links out:

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Museum of Arts and Design

American Folk Art Museum

Craft and Folk Art Museum

One thought

  1. I have to hold myself back from doing all of Lydia’s crafty school projects by myself. I’m not very GOOD at it, but it’s so FUN!

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