Thursday, December 3, 2009

Art vs Craft Debate

First, thank you to everyone for their thoughts and kind words. They are appreciated more than words can express. I've thought a great deal on the art vs craft debate and know that it will never be definitively decided. Whenever I am asked about quilts being art, I always say, "yes!" However, I also say that I feel quilts are a lot like photography. Millions of people own cameras. Millions of homes are filled with photographs. The same can be said about quilts. Are all the snapshots art? No. Does this make them less valuable? Personally, I think not. Does it make them all art? No.

There is also a great quote by Martha Graham that I had posted in my studio for years that I also think expresses my feelings better than I could ever say.

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through your action.
There is only one of you in all time.
Your expression is unique, but if you block it, it will never exisit through your medium: and will be lost.
If you block it, the world will not have your expression.
It is not your business to determine how good your expression is, not how it compares with others expressions.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. What you have to do is keep open and aware directly to the usges that motivate you.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. No artist is ever satisfied.
There is a queer, divine dis-satifisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps up marching and makes us more alive than others."

I want to be alive. I'd be lying if I told you that I do not want approval. With that said, approval no longer guides me. Always with gratitude, Karen


  1. A very encouraging and wise quote! It expresses another point: Remaining true to yourself.
    Knowing that an artist is never satisfied is very encouraging.
    The debate you refer to -- where can I read all of it?

  2. Rima Staines on modern art:
    As a visual expression, a work of art should need no explanation in another medium (words) I think. Of course it is interesting to learn of the stories behind paintings, but for a work of art to be utterly dead to you until you read an essay explaining the underlying idea, is failure.

  3. I agree with Rima. However, I have always found that when I understand the artist's thoughts and life, it adds instead of taking away. I think this is part of the reason I have so enjoyed interviewing quiltmakers for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.

  4. I love the last sentence of the Martha Graham quote. I don't stop by here often so I'm not up to speed on the current art vs. craft discussion, but an off the top of my head response is that craft is often thought of as less than art, but to achieve profiency at a craft can turn someone into a true artist.


Love comments! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.