As expected, the recent American Craft Council conference Creating a new Craft Culture, generated much lively debate. This event seemed to provide a stage for the confrontation between two very different craft cultures: the older studio model of individual craftsperson contributing unique works to the field of craft, versus the new renegade model of craft collectivities engaging with the issues of the day. It may be too early to find a clear outcome for this encounter, but it sets up an important argument about contemporary craft in years to come.
The opposition between craft and DIY relates quite closely to the current issue in the Journal of Modern Craft, which considers how the current politicisation of craft engages with the history of the craft movement.
As a flavour of the new position, here’s a reflection on the conference written especially for JMC by craft blogger Harriete Estel:
The D.I.Y. movement is reinventing the American Craft scene in its approach to the marketplace. The D.I.Y. ‘ers grew up with the Internet and know how to connect with a wider audience. They engage their community and the general public with their accessibility and enthusiasm in the making of handmade objects. By empowering artists to reach out and be found by any person interested in their media or work, the Internet demolishes the monopoly of the traditional gallery and the limitation of available pedestal space. Art and craft no longer needs to be a rarified environment. All studio craft can benefit from this new dynamic and all should embrace this new potential. The Internet and the D.I.Y. movement have forever expanded the art and craft universe.
That’s quite a challenging position. It resonates well with Faythe Levine’s contributions to this site. You can read more of Harriete’s views from her blog here.