TITLE: The Lesser Art
DATE: 8/20/2004 08:34:00 AM
Not one to break with tradition, today I quote a letter from the Sept04 issue of Fiberarts magazine:
"I can't imagine I have the only keyboard rattled into action after Mary Hunt's letter ["Is 'Wearable Art' Art?" in Summer 2004].
In it, among other things, she relegates function and utility to a level somewhere beneath art.
As a maker of items that can be worn and thus have function, I feel very humble down here, looking up on high to where the real artists live. But never mind. I am in wonderful company. There's Peter Collingwood, for instance. He made those stripy floor rugs to go with stripy sofas. And the Amish are here, too, with their "useful" bedcovers. Looking around at other media, I can see [potters] Bernard Leach and Lucie Rie. Their work couldn't be classed as true art, either, according to Ms. Hunt. It's craft, because you might be able to put coffee in it.
I am attempting humor in an area that really isn't a laughing matter. I have had a lifetime of this nonsense, where painters go sniffy because they have to show their work next to a potter, or a sculptor shuffles uneasily when their output adjoins a knitter's in a mixed exhibition.
Why does the idea that function devalues perpetuate in the West? Why can't we focus on excellence in our individual areas of work, and think of art forms as part of a glorious, diverse, extended family in which, ideally, all contribute and all benefit?" - Isabella Whitworth, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
I couldn't have said it better myself, Isabella.