Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes- I feel like I made an unintentional mistake in my last blog post. In the previous post I took offense at they way a friend’s husband characterized her artwork. He referenced her “craft” room and how she liked doing “crafts”. It was the way he used the word that felt dismissive and patronizing.
The debate between what constitutes art and what constitutes craft dates back to the 1800s. Somehow it was decided there was a distinct difference between art/craft and Fine Art- art with a capital A. Artisanal crafts such as pottery, weaving, and quilting were deemed “decorative arts” and denied the status of being “real” art. In the nineteenth century it was decided the decorative arts should not be degraded to a separate kind of art. (How these debates get decided is well above my pay grade).
Leaving aside snobbery and elitism, I could not be a bigger fan of the pottery mugs, quilted placemats, and hand carved furniture decorating my daily life. I think intention is the primary distinction between art and craft. If someone intends to express something through their artistic efforts, than I think it “counts” as art. I direct a creative arts program for at-risk middle school kids. We just finished our summer program in which the students participated in pottery and digital arts programming. If anyone has any doubt that the pieces they created are not Art with a capital A, then you have not seen the shy smiles sneaking on to their sweet faces as they proudly display their clay bowls or graphic designs.
As I’ve said more than a few times on this blogsite, I feel like a creativity evangelist so persuaded am I of the benefits of creative expression.
I’m reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Gilbert talks about a professor poet who asked his budding author student:
“Do you have the courage? The courage to bring forth this creative work? The treasures that are inside you are hoping you will say yes!”
Elizabeth Gilbert goes on to write:
“The hunt to uncover these treasures- that’s creative living. The courage to go on the hunt in the first place- that is what separates a mundane existence from an enchanted one.”
I’m sorry if I left the impression I don’t value craft as highly as I do art. I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, “it’s having the courage (and it does take courage to bring one’s creations out into the light of day) to bring forth creative works that awaken the treasures within. As they say in the Olympics- “Gold: it’s in us all. ”. I frankly don’t care what they label it, it’s all art to me!