15 Bytes | Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Glimpses of Decoration and Life: Ric Blackerby and Mary Boerens Sinner at Art Access

There is a common misconception about the relation of craft to art, best exemplified by an appraisal that is heard only too often. Looking at a particular artisan’s work, someone will say it ‘transcends craft and rises to the level of art.’ This idea, that there is a continuum of how well hand work is executed, with ever-higher levels of craft eventually crossing a categorical boundary to become art, was not accurate to begin with. In the last century, moreover, artists have seemed determined to demolish it from both directions. Much recent art has deliberately employed mundane levels of skill, in order to prove that any human activity can qualify as art making. On the other hand, the universal deployment of machine manufacture has raised the cachet of hand-crafted examples, so that the finest levels of craftsmanship are routinely engaged in producing consumer goods that no one would mistake for art. It might be helpful to examine the dividing line, if that’s what it is, between craft and art, to see how they differ, but also just what each one takes from the other. An opportunity to do just that is available this month at Art Access…

Read the review in the April 2012 edition of 15 Bytes.

Geoff Wichert has degrees in critical writing and creative nonfiction. He writes about art to settle the arguments going on in his head.

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