Have recently had web discussions on Art, artists and craft. I don't have time to really spend on this but is seems like an important topic that constantly goes astray.
I always find that people want to call themselves "Artists". This is strange to me. Why isn't it enough to be a potter? or a painter or a sculptor? No ...people want to be called Artists.
I can only assume that this is to add validity or prestige to their activity. It isn't just pottery it is Art. I am an Artist - meaning they participate in the grand social structure of Art. They are creating and thus participate in a similar activity as the great Creator!
But then you get to asking what "Art"is or what an "Artist" is and it is a confounding mix of denial and hostility. Things like "I hate the Art vs craft " debate or an "Artist is anyone who makes Art". This definition seems strange to me because it is so broad as to include everyone. And yet the entire purpose of being called an "Artist" is adding prestige. So if everyone is an artist, it isn't that special. If Artist is an all -inclusive term then it is a useless word indicating nothing.
Another attempt was: "Anyone who designs and makes an object". Well it seems to me that would include an engineer. They design and make objects. So do cooks, they design and make many objects that you eat. Or a cake maker at Wal-mart. They design and make cakes, sort of like slip trailing with sugar. Or birds like the Bower bird, they design and make beautiful nests that vary. What about bees? So you see, if a cook, engineer, birds and bees are all in the definition of Artist then what good is the definition?
What if I asked "what is a writer"? Many people want to be writers and to participate in the mystique of being a writer, novelist, etc. But if the definition of writer is, anyone who writes how prestigious is that? Everyone is a writer. Even a two year old can write "Mommy"? So there has to be a better definition of the term "writer" or "artist" for it to have any real meaning.
Then we come to crafts. What is wrong with being a craftperson? Seems like a fine occupation to me.
But evidently being an Artist must be better. Craftsmen make repeats of the same or similar objects over and over. Ever look at a potter's life work? It is not life of "creating" but rather of making objects. Most potters create a line and then reproduce it. Occasionally there is variation but generally you are producing a line of work to sell. Just look at the life time products of most potters....rinse and repeat (with slight tweeks). Just because you use a different glaze on a cup doesn't make it Art. Variations on a form aren't that profound. Nothing wrong with them but color variations don't make it Art.
Nothing wrong with that! I am a potter. I have been rinsing and repeating for a long time. Sure I make some new stuff but Art? I don' think so.
How many cups are "created' or how many are "made". There is no ambiguity in the end product..it will be a cup. It is never going to end up being an installation of "the cupness" of a cup. ....Those don't fit in the kiln! It isn't Art it is craft.
So I know that this isn't a philosophical treatise on Art or Craft but it seems to me someone has to address the absurdity of all these Artists running amok.
I return to the initial question - Why isn't it enough to be a potter? or a painter or a sculptor?