Saturday, March 15, 2008
Several bloggers, including Paula Hewitt and Sharon B, have been discussing the question of art versus craft, and what the definition of each is. In one of those synchronicity experiences, I heard a discussion of a new book called The Craftsman, which adds another dimension to the discussion. The author, Richard Sennett, is interested both in the craftsman as a maker of handwork in a mechanized culture and as someone who does fine work for its own sake and believes in the importance of continued growth, education, and experience to master the craft. This focus sets the craftsman apart from a society that values monetary rewards and immediate gratification. Sennett also broadens the definition of craftsman to include people who do fine work in a non-concrete field, such as teaching or computer programming. Although no one in the blogs I read was belittling craft as opposed to art, Sennett's ideas might remind us again that craft in itself is a fine thing, whether it becomes art or not.