A recent visit to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas reminded me of the origins of Contemporary Craft, one of my all time favorite genres of art. I think I like contemporary craft so much because we are living through the evolution of Craft from strictly utilitarian objects to objects that are extremely innovative and which might also be useful. Still today, you say the word craft and people think of craft shows that feature quilts and handmade dolls and toys made of wood and rubber band motors.
When we use the word Contemporary Craft, however we are speaking of something much more than useful items made in the traditions of the past. While wood turning, ceramics and basket weaving may have their origins in very old processes, these are two disciplines that have taken off under the umbrella of Contemporary Craft. Another way to express what Contemporary Craft is as the term 3-D art, but I don’t like this term nearly as much, and that would include sculpture, and sculpture, in my mind anyway, doesn’t belong in craft.
When we look at what the term means: craft according to wikipedia.org it is a skill associated with the practical arts. They also refer to studio craft as craft made by artists working in studios. A little too basic for me, okay how about this as a definition of Contemporary Craft: Contemporary Craft is the art of making art from useful or practical things, the end result being or not being a practical item that has been elevated to fine art through aesthetics and grace.
I invite you to peruse the “Contemporary Craft” pieces on our website. Hint: you won’t find them under paintings and prints.--Ruth Mitchell
(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved