This guest post is from my friend Mr. John Matthews who teaches ceramics at Conestoga. He’s an artist, an amazing teacher, and a good friend.
I believe MOCC in Portland is once again addressing the art/craft relationship. People tend to handle craft objects, picking them up, trying them on, touching the finish and so on before purchasing from the craft show tent. Artworks tend to be observed but not handled – whether on the gallery floor or wall. We use craft objects, look at art works. Ok, I get that, and believe its true.
But I had an experience in Houston that muddled this classification/separation more. I stayed with a relative in a large beautifully decorated house. Purchased copies of French Impressionist paintings in beautiful frames hung on the walls. And very lovely replicas of Period Chinese ceramics enhanced the table tops and shelves. Neither the art works nor the pottery were meant to be handled. They were all codified decorative objects filling a decorative scheme.
My instinct was to re-invision this home filled with actual original artworks of ALL media. What a novelty, and potential treasure that could be with selections as carefully considered as the items they would replace! And what a boon to artist and craftspeople if this were a trend of homeowners across the land. Forget the white box, white tent argument, unless you’re a curator. And act on your own to purchase art and craft made by current practicing artists, in order to make your statement.
I once participated in an art exhibit at Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion. During renovations, the historical 18th century paintings, porcelain, and glassware were removed to storage for safekeeping. Before these treasures were re-hung, artists and craftspeople were invited to display their contemporary works, for sale, in their places. What a transformation! The distinctions between art and craft were not even a thought in this setting.