Friday, December 16, 2011

Pottery, Art, Craft, Or Both

The leaves are from Acer floridanum, a native Florida maple tree, in our front yard. This medium sized maple tree has small leaves for the size of the tree but the fall color is wonderful. There are hundreds on the ground. I know they'll deteriorate soon, so I gathered a few leaves to enjoy in my studio.

I fooled around making some test tiles from scraps of slabs yesterday experimenting with transferring leaves coated with slip and overlapping slip colors to see how they fire. This was the first attempt and the leaves are blotched.

This next one has a taupe color of slip background which I haven't used before. This ladder of leaves is 11.25 inches tall and 3.75 inches wide and fairly thin. After I made this one I thought this size would be nice as a group of three, five, even seven. I'll see how the slip colors fire on all my test tiles before I make any tile panels.

Later I made this small, almost miniature, purple topiary shrine with left over pieces of clay cut from previous shrines. This shrine is 8 inches tall and 4 inches wide and three inches deep. I planned to make red roses but I didn't put detail in them so they look like apples. Perhaps I should make a snake tempting someone to partake of the fruit. I might add a little bird in there somewhere. I'll go back and change the color of the stem and pot to make them contrast more. I keep rolled slabs of clay wet by putting them in a sandwich of plastic and wrapping them. They'll stay fresh for several days to use at a later time. If I keep them in plastic too long the slabs start growing mold.

After the flea market yesterday Gary drove over to the gallery to see which items sold. The woman working there told Gary my work was craft and might sell better at a flea market. I guess this type of attitude about pottery stems from folks thinking pottery is craft and painting is art. Maybe pottery is both craft and art. But I think painting is the same, both craft and art. It's probably very lucky I wasn't there when she said that. Perhaps she wouldn't have made this remark to me and I wouldn't know how some in the gallery perceive my work. And maybe this person feels the same way about the other pottery in the gallery as well. I do think if my work went through the jury process to get into the gallery, those working in the gallery should be upbeat about the work no matter what their personal opinion happens to be. At least that's what I would do for other's work if I was working there.

Here are my wall tiles displayed in the gallery, not the best way to display them. They look crowded  in comparison to the large paintings hung nearby. My functional work is in a different location. I tried to work with them and offered to bring in a different display, but they have so many paintings and photography packed into this gallery location there isn't any empty space at all. I envisioned a few of the tiles on easels interspersed with my functional work grouped together. On this particular wall display I could envision a panel of tiles as one group. Perhaps I'll make something like that for this space and remove these from the gallery. Most galleries have more open space and white walls or panels to hang work. Perhaps this gallery isn't a good fit for my work.

Now my apple topiary shrine might be craft, but I don't think my portrait wall tiles or other shrines are craft. I realize my work isn't like other work people may have seen. Maybe my work is perceived as folk art, outsider art, funk art, or avant-garde?  I think my functional work is within the normal range, whatever that may be. Anyway pottery - art, craft, or both, does it matter? My work isn't factory made, it's hand made, one of a kind, made with thought and care. This post is part of Artists in Blogland Show and Tell Saturday. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.


  1. Hello Linda:
    Well, we should certainly have found the gallery assistant's response very dispiriting if we were in your shoes. It is, in our view, never terribly helpful to 'categorise' Art. It is Art. And, your work is most definitely Art. Should there be a need for others to define it more closely, then that would most likely depend on what they themselves perceive Art to be and that can mean as many interpretations as there are people looking at it and enjoying it.

    We do agree with you about the presentation of your work in the gallery. It seems overly crowded to us which does not make for easy viewing and does result in a conflict between different works as they cannot avoid being looked at together.

    Whatever, as an artist, it is so important to stay true to your own path. Make what you will, how you will, in what way you will and, most importantly, call it what you will!!!

  2. "Crafts practiced by independent artists working alone or in small groups are often referred to as studio craft.
    Studio craft includes studio pottery, metal work, weaving, wood turning and other forms of wood working, glass blowing, and glass art" from wikipedia
    I think that most clay work is considered craft and I don't mind that. I do think of myself a craftsman and that's ok. Clay is just not considered a fine arts medium. Sequoia Miller wrote lots of long posts on this topic. I don't think having work called "craft" is a bad thing, it just might sell to a different audience than work considered "fine art". I do think the gallery should find the right location for your work to look appropriate if they are going to represent you though :)

  3. Linda, Art is over rated. Forget it. Craft is good, it speaks of history, of time spent learning it, of giving it the personal touch, of caring and most importantly craft is for the people. Crafts are to be used and enjoyed as part of daily life, not stuck in glass cases
    I have no idea what people categorize me as. I'm an illustrator by trade, but i'd be happy to call myself a craftsman, even just a "creative", but artist?... not too bothered!! (which is probably just as well!)

  4. I do agree with Scott. I do believe you are a hybrid Craftsman/Artist. I really hate labels and am just an appreciater.

  5. I think what irked me is she told Gary it would sell better at a flea market - it was the flea market reference that brought my dander up more than the word craft.

  6. Hi Jane and Lance, thanks so much for your thoughtful response, I agree art speaks to whomever it does and what type of art you like depends upon your own eye. I agree the work is too crowded, I'll see what I can do with it.

  7. Hi Tracey, thanks so much, I'll check out Sequoia's writings on art and craft. It really was the flea market reference that irked me and had me wondering what they say when someone asks about my work.

  8. Hi Scott, thanks, you have said it so well, artistically produced craft is wonderful and is generally more affordable to the one percent than some art called art which I can't relate to. Ha.

  9. Hi Patti, thanks, I too am an appreciator and know when I like something and I don't and different art or craft appeals to different people depending upon their style, backgrounds, decor, etc.

  10. The flea market remark was uncalled for and perhaps someone needs to talk to that assistant!
    I am fine with the term craftsman, it doesn't mean that you are not an artist. The League of NH Craftsmen that I was a juried member of, advertises their galleries as "Fine Craft"... I like that term.
    I agree with you that this gallery does a poor job of displaying work. Your idea of grouping your tiles with some functional work would present itself much better.

  11. The flea market reference was uncalled for. I definitely think the person should be spoken to. A denigrating attitude on the part of a salesperson conveys itself without being voiced. As for the difference between craft and art, it's an argument that has been going on since the Renaissance. Back in the 1999 the Young Museum in San Francisco did an exhibit calledThe Art of Craft which was work from the Saxe Collection. If you can get hold of the book you will see that there is no real difference between art and craft. It's in the naming by people who need to categorize. This is a huge hobby horse of mine. Keep working: that's the important thing!

  12. I don't care about terms BUT a gallery owes you more than cramming everything together like a table of stuff at a yard sale.The Jury needs to consider the fit and marketability of the artist's work in their setting.If they didn't think they could sell it, why did they take it? It is a disservice to both of you if it is going to sit there gathering dust. If they can't display your work properly and SELL some of it, take it out. They don't deserve you.

  13. Olá!!

    O que importa é que seu trabaçho é magnifico.


  14. Hi

    I love the colors of the maple leaves you use in the first photo. I found very interesting that your maple leaves are different from ours in shpe. They are lovely. I wish I could see your works in the gallery in person! Will your apple shrine also be on display in the same gallery? It is very nice.

    Thank you so much for your kind comments so far on my blog this year, Linda. I really appreciate it. Happy Holidays!!

    PS The shino cups in your former post are fantastic!!

  15. Art is art. I usually call mine "whimsical", but I don't like categorizations. You always make wonderful pieces with a unique style. Happy weekend!

  16. Lovely creations ~ each with a different style ~ Wonderful! ~ Happy Holidays ~~ thanks, namaste, Carol (Share the Creative Journey) ~ Happy AIBL

  17. Well, I for one love fleas markets, haha! I have found some amazing things at them, in fact my house looks like a flea market! There is a huge flea market in Raleigh at the fairgrounds and I have seen some very fine potters selling their work there as well as fine crafted wood turned pieces and metal work. I have considered going over there myself. They do a pottery event there sometime in the fall I think.....
    There are way too many snotty galleries out there, as you know I have had my share!

  18. I think your group of tiles stands out so much more than the mish mash of paintings on the other display. Your creative spirit comes through loud and clear. You just keep being you, the rest of the world will just have to catch up! xox Corrine

  19. Hi Michele, thanks, I actually put together a little mock up of a display I thought would look good but they said they didn't have the room, they are going to be moving to another location real soon but frankly this gallery in this town doesn't get that much traffic. Although I have directed a ton of folks to their location via my connections at the flea markets and farmer's market.

    Hi Suzi, thanks, yes the label and I don't really mind the labels myself but I do mind the often condescending attitudes behind those labels. More work ahead, can't help myself.

    Hi Ma Ferreira, thanks so much for your kind thought about my art, I was really needing a boost.

    Hi Sapphire, thanks, I am not sure about that shrine but perhaps some other, but I will be branching out to other galleries very soon. You have a lovely blog and I appreciate the time you take to show us your country's culture, art, and history and beauty; it is a real treat to visit your blog each time I go there. So wonderful to have the virtual friendship; I can feel through your posts your love of the beauty that surrounds you.

  20. Hi Black Pumpkin, thanks, sometimes I take things too personally and am over sensitive, but I keep pushing on with my ups and down, thank you.

    Hi Carol, thanks, yes I follow my muse where ever she takes me. Ha.

    Hi Tracey, thanks, I too love flea markets, but I think it is what she meant by the remark more than the flea market, actually Gary has been taking some of my functional work to the flea market and it has been selling well, more about that and the farmer's market in a later post. there are way too many snotty people that's for sure. I just had to vent about this one here.

    Hi Dennis, thanks, I have a feeling this gallery was looking for artists to fill their empty spots to help cover their rent, but they do have a good group of people there, but they are not experienced in the nuances of running a gallery and are learning as they go along. Thanks for the pep talk these things have to be worked out over time I guess, will see what happens after the holidays.

    Hi Corrine, thanks so much, I really needed a boost to my bruised ego and you have given me that and the folks at the market did that today as well. thanks again.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment