CRAFT vs ART

Lately I have started to sense a shift in my ideas about the purpose of creating.

This post by Abby Glassenberg really brought to the surface some internal conflict with some of my creative endeavors. I personally feel a very derisive division between craft and art (as I often think of it: CRAFT vs. ART). I want to be clear, I don't sense this angst or tension displayed in Abby's post. She does a great job of sharing her feelings with passion and kindness, without pitting the two concepts against each other. My own personal crazy is what has been putting the conflict between them (for years, and years, and years).

I love to make things that ultimately have a hands on purpose. So, this is why my love of crafting has blossomed though out my life.

But. But...

I also love to make things that are beautiful or provoke something within me. There is certainly room for that in the world of craft, but lately I've been wrestling with the idea of if it is acceptable to make things purely for the sake of being beautiful. I have put the idea of function over form for a long time, to the point that I have subconsciously decided that if something doesn't have a hands on function, ultimately it is somewhat worthless.

So, I have been trying to remember lately that the joy experienced when seeing something beautiful is a very worthwhile function of something. I would never look at an artist's masterpiece and think, "what a waste of time, this isn't doing anything!" No, instead, when I had the privilege of seeing the Sistine Chapel I was delighted beyond measure! Granted there are other factors at play, the talent of the artist, the personal draw to particular styles, hype from other outside sources, etc. Obviously, not everything created with the simple intention of being beautiful (or provoking other emotions besides joy), is as well crafted as the Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel created by Michelangelo, Rome


I want to start giving myself freedom to make things for the sake of giving me joy or being lovely. I love making "useful" things, and will continue to do so, but I have decided that I have permission to make things that are for the sake of being beautiful, or expressing something. Even if they don't accomplish any hands on task, they are still useful, if they bring me delight.

I'm trying to actively remember and practice the idea that something that engages someone (whether or not it keeps them warm or gives them something to put their keys in) has an important purpose.

I'm trying to throw out my long time idea that there is a CRAFT vs ART war going on, and that I have to pick a side and stick with it. I can instead pursue whatever creative path my heart and mind have landed on, and it's perfectly reasonable.