March 11, 2011

...A Making of Things, Part 2

Yesterday, Andrew delved into the history of "art" versus "craft", the societal perceptions of each, how they have changed through the ages, and even in the past few years.  Today he explores the work of a few of the notable artists/crafters that strive to find balance and create pieces that defy categorization as either "art" or "craft".

Andrew picks it up here:
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Some established artists, find a way to strike a balance and straddle the dividing line.  Amy Wilson lives in New Jersey, teaches in New York City.  She mostly creates small-scale drawings and watercolors, primarily of little girls who act as avatars for delivering and illustrating thought-provoking, stream-of-conscious dialogue.  She is represented by BravinLee programs and has prints up at Diane Villani  (both in New York City).  Amy also has an online store and an Etsy shop.  In her online store, she sells inexpensive projects, like artist books and tote bags made from a public art installation.  CLICK HERE to visit her online shop.  Under the name, ephemeraldesign, Amy sells fabric houses, pillows, and more “craft” oriented items.  CLICK HERE to see her Etsy shop.

Photo courtesy of the artist.
For some artists, the line between “craft” and “fine art” is further blurred.  Brooklyn-based artist, Iviva Olenick, creates hand-embroidered art pieces that explore the ideas of modern romance.  She uses, what is often times considered, a traditional women’s handicraft to do more than just decorate, but to investigate social dynamics through bittersweet commentary.   She teaches at 3rd Ward in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Pratt Center for Continuing and Professional Studies in Manhattan, and at the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan.  She also exhibits her work at the Muriel Guepin Gallery in Brooklyn.  CLICK HERE to visit her blog, which documents some of her work and supplements the content of her embroideries.

Photo courtesy of the artist.
Jewelry-makers are no strangers to this in-between place.  Nina Bagley creates what she calls “narrative jewelry” – pieces that tell a story with color, material choices (often times with found objects and vintage components), and over style and execution.  Her love of heartfelt mixed media art is translated into wearable creations imbued with poetry and artistic expression.  Nina is not alone. 

Photo courtesy of the artist.
Another example is Dustin Wedekind.  Dustin uses seed beads as his primary medium.  Whether creating jewelry, beaded tapestries, beaded figures, or an assortment of bead-encrusted objects, Dustin explores ideas of fairy tales and mythology, sexuality, and nostalgia.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Thornton.
The very beads that are used in jewelry are considered by many to be miniature works of art.  When looking at Anne Choi’s work, it is not hard to see this.  
Photo courtesy of Andrew Thornton.
Anne Choi is a metalsmith out of Atlanta, who creates sterling silver and mixed metal beads, depicting lines of poetry and proverb, and detailed illustrations of ideas, ancient inspirations, and symbolic references.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Thornton.
Cynthia Thornton (my sister) and her husband, Greg Ogden, were both trained in sculpture and painting at the Columbus College of Art and Design.  They are main designers behind their company, Green Girl Studios.  Each bead is considered a miniature sculpture.  While each bead design is carefully considered, with aims that each piece should have a broad appeal, every bead has a personal story.  

Photo courtesy of Andrew Thornton.
 Metalsmiths who work in a figurative style are not the only ones who create artistically through the making of beads.  Patti Cahill, who makes brightly colored lampwork glass beads, considers herself to be a Colorist.  
Photo courtesy of Andrew Thornton.
 Barbara Metzger of Basha Beads, another lampworker who creates pieces very different from Patti’s, thinks of her beads as tiny works of abstract art.  Barbara uses colors inspired by gemstones and a technique she invented that replicates the look and feel of ancient Greco-Roman Glass, to create these tiny homages to Abstract Expressionism.

Revolutions often imply drastic overthrows and sudden changes, but the word also means to “revolve or to come around”.  It’s an exciting time, where the lines, once so clear, are reverting to a time when things were not so black and white – where Arts and Crafts were one and the same… a making of things.


Cynthia Thornton said...

I love that last paragraph. Its very uplifting. Thanks for the mention of GGS! I really enjoyed both parts.

Charlene said...

Excellent and thoughtful articles. The changes to come should be interesting. The Internet has been a huge game-changer in the arts world - in particular the ability we have to publish our own books, our music, our movies without going through some authority like a music label; the amount of access we have to art around the world, to walk into museums using things like the Google Art Project, to dialogue and collaborate with artists in other cities or continents.

I also think it is interesting how some in the art community react when a new material is introduced. I remember when polymer clay first came out hearing comments about how they weren't real artists because they weren't working in traditional clay. There's been some of that with metal clay.

These are interesting times and I await what's next.