Saturday, May 4, 2013
Art readers' digest
Since I never had the opportunity to attend art school, I have had to resort to my own reading and study to learn about art history and theory. But thanks to taking a formal art history course this spring, I've been reading even more about art than I normally do.
Sometimes a bit of reading will spark a lot of thought on my part, which I will post about. And then I keep running into provocative little remarks and paragraphs that aren't enough to spark a full essay, but are too interesting to pass by unremarked. I thought maybe you would be interested in reading them too, so I'm going to start posting them.
Although I won't spend a lot of time reflecting on these readings or telling you what I think, I'd be really interested in what you think about them. Please share your ideas and responses!
Here's the first, from a 1998 book, "Michael James: Art & Inspirations." This was one of a great series done by C&T Publishing, which I think is no longer being done. These books had the virtue of focusing on artists and their work without dumbing it down with project instructions, and did the artists the courtesy of treating their ideas with equal respect as their quilts.
In this book, Patricia Malarcher, the longtime editor of SDA Journal, interviewed James.
Malarcher: Could you define the difference between art, craft, and design?
James: Art is a state, a situation that a work enters when its expressive, symbolic, metaphorical and.or decorative value assumes a communicative power that transcends its materiality. To me, craft is the process, the construction, the technical aspect of producing some object. To a degree, design is technical also, but whereas craft is focused on the construction end of the object, design is focused on the composition -- essentially, on the interweaving of the surface elements -- line, color, form, shape, etc.
Malarcher: But what is it that pushed good design and good craft into art?
James: All I can say is that there's something intangible embodied in a work of art that has the capacity to draw emotional and psychological responses from someone who encounters it. Most objects that are purely functional don't have that intangible quality.
Malarcher: Beyond craftsmanship and design, art today is regarded as something that holds a mirror up to a particular culture and talks back to it in ways that are often confrontationa. Where do you see you work in such a milieu?
James: I don't see that my work really fits in with what's going on in the art world today. It seems to fit in with what is going on in the studio craft movement. What I've said regarding quilts could be said about any studio craft medium like glass, furniture, ceramics, or other textiles. None of those really fit in with the currents of avant-garde art.