Friday, September 11, 2009

What makes an artist?

I attended a seminar yesterdayabout applying for a grant from the Art Council of Ontario for their "Artists in Eduaction" project. I found myself hesitant to say what I do, afraid they might tell me I don't belong.

Is it art?
Is it craft?
Is it something unrelated? Engineering, perhaps? Some form of technology?

When you ask my kids what their Mum does, my son replies "She sews" and my daughter says "Make dresses." I do do both of those things.

I also measure bodies, pattern make, draft, drape, fit.
I analyse body shapes to determine the most flattering lines, while trying to keep up with the ever changing whims of fashion.
I make designs for the structure of the garment, then change it depending on body shape, style of movement and need of the individual it is commisioned for.
I create artwork that is applied to the garments, then apply it, embellish it, analyze it for line, balance, flow, change it again.

Does this make me an artist? A technician, a craftsman? All three?

It isn't straight forward art, pure and simple. It is too practical for that. I have heard description of art as something with no practical purpose and craft as something useful.
A friend claimed that art does not need to be well made, but craft does.
Anyone have an opinion on this topic? Please feel free to share. I would love to know what others think.


Claudine said...

I read a really interesting book on this topic called "Thinking Through Craft" by Glenn Adamson. He really delves into the subject of craft as distinct from, but supportive of, art. I can't say I agree with all of his premises, and he's a total snob (he is a bigwig at the VIctoria and Albert Museum), but he has a lot of thought-provoking things to say.

a little sewing on the side said...

I would be interested in reading that book mentioned by Claudine. I do wonder the same thing.
I hesitate to say I am an artist. But then again, how to articulate the passion, which is clearly evident? Passion counts, right?

Anonymous said...

Mary Pat,

I have wrestled with this concept for quite sometime, also. But in my mind you are quite an artist for several reasons: you see solutions to spatial problems that few others do, you create works of art, and you have elevated the craft of sewing to an esoteric pursuit, worthy of being enjoyed by others.

Karen aka Karendee