What I’ve been thinking about (aka mid-winter depression rant)

January 6, 2013 at 11:23 am (Uncategorized)

(1) What is the difference between art and craft?

(Ok, I think about that one a lot. But I’ve been thinking about it more, if that’s possible, now that I have a spinning wheel and have been devoting a lot of time to learning how to make yarn. Making yarn is a fascinating task – I don’t think anything has ever quite captured my interest in the same way, with the exception of painting and drawing. Over the last few months, I must have spun miles and miles of yarn. I haven’t run out of ideas or enthusiasm yet.

Here’s the difference between spinning yarn and making art*: yarn has to be well-made; there is no such thing as de-skilling in craft. If it falls apart, it ceases to be yarn, and becomes instead just a big mess.  Art can be falling apart. It can be swept up and thrown away and only the myth of it remain. But that doesn’t cut it with craft.

*And see, you think the difference is going to be that yarn has no content. But as I play with it more, I see that’s completely not true: Can you spin yarn that tells a story (through color, texture, etc)? Sure. What about creating a yarn that refers to art history? No problem.

Increasingly, I think the difference is entropy. There isn’t any in craft; there is entropy constantly in art. The history of art is the history of the art object being torn apart, or falling apart under its own (historical, intellectual, aesthetic) weight. That doesn’t happen in craft.)

(2) What is the role of the artist in society?

(Yes,  I know – this is a grad school type question, the kind of which you usually throw out the door when you have to suck it up and just go out and make a living and deal with all the kinds of practicalities of being a grownup. But it never stops troubling me. Part of me feels like when people ask me what I do for a living, instead of saying “I’m an artist,” I should say, “I design things for rich people’s houses.”

That isn’t what I signed on for. I knew there was collusion/support between the elite and artists, but what’s frustrating is that seems like the only support that’s out there anymore. When it was one avenue of several, that was pretty ok; but for now, it feels like the only thing that’s out there for artists.)

(3) Is it possible to (do business)/(participate in capitalism)/(earn a living)/(create a market)/(build an audience) in such a way that is not soul-sucking, awful to the world, or disingenuous to the work you make?

(Ok, this comes from several business deals I’m working on right now, that exist outside of the structure of the mainstream art world. Is doing good business the best art? Or is it an excuse for me to play wannabe exec? Or will none of this even work so why bother even wondering?)

Argh. As usual, I don’t know.

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