is glass craft, or art?
I believe many glass pieces are based on the material alone.. They are made, collected and loved simply because glass interacts with light and is visually stunning in a way unlike opaque materials. It gets titles and explanations of meaning after the fact, as if an art school requirement has to be met. I think this is a mistake. Glass can reach us and make us feel drawn to it in a kind of child-like awe.. We want to reach out and touch it. It is both the skill of the artist that created it and the wonder of the material that makes us feel something magical about it.
Less often, glass is used as a medium to convey a message the artist wants to express. Like other forms of art with the same intent, this can evoke a more thought-based, intellectual connection between the artist and the observer. This connection can be felt very deeply and profoundly, when well done. (For me, I have wanted to make this type of work for many years, but most of what I could envision was beyond my skill to make at the time.)
Much has been written about the difference between art and craft, and what ‘real art’ consists of. I am impatient with this discussion, especially when it begins to devalue another person’s form of expression. For me, if a piece elicits feelings from me whether for its simple beauty or for its meaning, it is still of artistic value. Rather than be concerned for art Vs craft, it is better for an artist like myself to worry about quality.. good art or good craft is universally well made with skill and attention to detail. Being an artist or a craftsman does not excuse sloppiness or poor workmanship.
At Bullseye’s Glass Conference in 2009, the keynote speaker was an art critic from New York. Her subject, But Is It Art?, was meant to provoke thought among the glass artists there about what their work represented. Many felt criticized and her talk was not well received, but her point was for artists to try and be connected with what our art means to us and to be able to express it. I think it is that lack of self-understanding and awareness that she often found lacking with glass artists.
So each artist needs to work through what art is to them.
For me, art is the collective product of our human drive to express our individual voices, in beauty or in feeling, that we are compelled to share with the world. Art is in the eye of the artist, and if they are talented, the eyes of many others of us also.