On a recent trip to France, I showed photographs of my work to some new friends. They were interested in seeing what I did since I had told them I was an Artist. My laptop was with me so I obliged them with a short viewing. As one of my new friends was looking through the photos he commented - "Isn't is Handicraft? Do you think it is Art when you are making it?"
I wasn't quite sure how to respond. It felt as if his question arose from his disbelief that what I did was Art and the way he phrased his question seemed to somehow belittle my own process, as if I was somehow fooling myself into thinking I was an Artist. I did respond that yes, it was 'Handicraft' (as he put it) and it was also Art. As far as I'm concerned there is no difference.
My friend's question is one I grapple with (when I'm in the position of needing to explain myself to the general public) and I'm sure it is one that many artist/designer-maker/craftspeople do as well. The notion that we must somehow identify ourselves within a socially constructed -narrow- definition, frankly, annoys me.
I like the way the question of Art and Craft is explained, below, by David Revere McFadden, Chief curator and vice president of the Museum of Arts & Design in New York (from the Victoria and Albert Museum web page What is Craft?).
Craft, art, and design are words heavily laden with cultural baggage. For me, they all connote the profound engagement with materials and process that is central to creativity. Through this engagement form, function, and meaning are made tangible. It is time to move beyond the limitations of terminologies that fragment and separate our appreciation of creative actions, and consider the "behaviors of making" that practitioners share.'
Well said. Thank you, David.