Once again I’ve returned to the artist vs. craftsperson debate. I try to avoid it, but forces continue to draw me in. There was a huge conversation on a LinkedIn group, an article in metalsmith, Tamra Gentry asking mysterious questions about which I consider myself, and discussions within my chapter of the PA Guild of Craftsmen.
I told Tamra that I consider myself an artist. But then I decided on craftsperson. Then artist again. Back & forth, over & over. I feel stuck in the middle.
On one hand – process technique, and craftsmanship are a huge part of my work. I love working with my hands (and tools!) and am constantly striving for flawless execution.
On the other hand – I went to art school. I draw and take photographs (another debated art form). I am inspired to create new designs that are of my own creation. My work is very sculptural. My finished work is just as important as my process. My work is not traditional.
Most of the time I don’t worry about what I am. However, during recent meetings of my Guild chapter, we’ve discussed jury requirements. I read them and understand the wording. Others didn’t get what “individual voice” and other statements meant. One person began railing against “art school” jargon (not the first anti- art school rant) and other voiced concerns that traditional craftsmen were being left behind. Here I felt that I was too “arty.”
I also watched Work of Art on Bravo (somewhat disappointing I have to say). Seeing that I don’t know who most of the guests from the art world are, how so much emphasis is being placed on concept and its conveyance to the viewer, and opinions of the judges and participants makes me feel completely out of touch with the art world.
In my mind, I am an artist and a craftsperson. Outside forces push me to one extreme then the other. It’s like I’m in limbo or purgatory. So the question is still unresolved. Maybe if I felt more strongly about being one or the other, my work would reflect that. Right now I’m comfortable being who I am, whatever that is! Let’s call it simply – Wendy.