“Why is craft seemingly less prestigious than art?”

It’s come around to dissertation time for me at university. I study art and I’ve often wanted to make something using knitting or bead weaving for my course but I felt like my peers wouldn’t take crafts seriously. And I know it’s not just a strange and paranoid delusion of my own imagining, because there is a sense of frustration felt by many crafters. There is a nice blog post from American Craft about it here.

Well, this year on my course I’m going to, in a way, put it to the test. Previously my artwork has been made using appropriated or found material, text, the spoken word and computer programs. I’ve grown a little disappointed with my own work that it doesn’t demonstrate the things I can do with my own two hands. I love using my hands, I love making things, I do this all the time at home but I always kept my art seperate… until now. I’m not going down this road to make a point to my peers, I’m just doing it to satisfy my own need. (And it’s not like it hasn’t been done before, there are plenty of contemporary artists using craft techniques out there. Just look at Tracey Emin’s quilts, for one).

So to help me understand how my new crafty artwork fits into an art context, I’m basing my dissertation on why craft seems less prestigious than art.

Now, I want to ask a little favour. If anyone could help me with my research in this area I would be eternally grateful. Absolutely any names of artists or crafters that I could look up would be great, any books or websites dealing with this issue or any other blog posts. Even if you simply post me a comment below with your opinion on this it would be fantastic. Have you felt the same as a crafter? Are you, too, a crafty kind of artist? What do you think the difference is between art and craft, if any?

I’ll keep you posted on my research and I will likely post my finished dissertation on the blog. Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve left you something to think about.

Bibliography – The quote in the title is from the American Craft blog I liked to written by Monica Moses. The top photo is Emin’s ‘Helter Fucking Skelter’ (2001) piece. The second image is a collection of fabrics with embroidery and patchwork by Louise Bourgeois named ‘Ode à l’oubli’ (2002).



2 thoughts on ““Why is craft seemingly less prestigious than art?”

  1. have a look at Peter Dormer’s writing and then update that by looking at recent conferences: Challenging Craft (2004), New Craft Future Voices (2007) and NeoCraft (2008) for starters 🙂

    Posted by Sarah Kettley | 27 November, 2011, 19:49
    • Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to give me some ideas for reading material. I was doing some dissertation research earlier too, mostly looking through ‘Obscure Objects of Desire’ by the Crafts Council.
      I don’t think I’ve heard of any of those conferences so I’ll certainly look them up.

      My views on the art/craft debate have shifted somewhat since I write this blog post. I now think it’s rather a shame that craft feels the need to take a defensive stance on the matter. I’d much prefer it to just embrace itself, instead of wanting to be something else.

      My dissertation might now branch off into aspects of making, status of objects or the everyday. Still in terms of craft. I really don’t have concrete ideas at the moment 😛

      Posted by Bijou Zoo | 27 November, 2011, 21:27

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