Art and craft are human inventions. We didn’t go out and find art in nature, we encountered nature and called it art. Craft is another approach. It is another way, through function, that humans encounter the world. Since both are made up, it’s no wonder that firm rules and definitions are hard to come by.

Art and craft seem like weird things to try and peg down anyway. There’s so much bleed between the two, that the more time I spend thinking about what either is or isn’t, the weirder I feel about the whole discussion. If someone makes a toy for the function of occupying a child, but it winds up displayed on a shelf as a work of art, should we argue that the nerd is in love with craft, not art? “It’s art”, “it’s craft”– no, it’s a toy. Play with it, or admire it, or both. Pick up a book and read it. Let it do the job it was intended for by its maker, let it perform a function, as all craft does. Let it inspire your living, speak to your thinking, in whatever way it can, as all art does. Why worry about definitions? They only seem good as ways to attack and defend the definitions themselves. When looking at the engraving of a saddle, should you consult a handbook to determine if you are admiring craft or art? Definitions don’t make works of art or craft, they just flesh out the words that we assigned to endlessly subjective human acts.

1 comment
  1. I appreciate your thoughts on the importance of defining things, or simply taking them for what they are. And I do agree that there is a great deal of bleed between the two, and so much is dependent on how people (the creator, the recipient/viewer) interpret the piece. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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