Thursday, May 31, 2007

Craft in America - the wrap up

Well, after finally watching Craft in America, what did you all think?

For me, the bottom line is that it offered pleasant studio visits with a nice variety of accomplished and interesting artists and artisans, and provides a valuable documentary of their ideas and their hands in action. It may even have an impact on revitalizing public interest in craft.

The third part, Community, was the most interesting to me, and getting to watch students and residents at Pilchuck and Penland was a big highlight.

But I think it definitely could have done more to raise questions and stimulate discussion. While watching it, I felt as if I'd already seen the program before, even though I hadn't. It was a little too predictable, and too artist-centered I thought. And it seemed to rely on a lot of establishment entities like the Smithsonian Craft Show.

While I'm not rushing out to buy the DVD, and I'm a little baffled by the breathlessness with which this series was anticipated, I have to say it is good to see craft as CRAFT on the television airwaves!

Link to my live blog entries posted after the airing of each segment: Memory, Landscape, Community.


Joe B. said...

What I found interesting is that the show had a very specific political bent. Not that I minded, it was the same as mine, but it was unexpected.

Maybe it shouldn't have been.

I will tell you, however, that it was not what I was expecting, and probably why I stayed tuned.

I pretty much a TV guy more than a craft guy, illustrated by the name of my blog,

danielw said...

I also thought the Community portion was the best (though I admit I missed the first part due to my daughter's play recital).

I noted on the Wholesale Matters blog a few angles that I thought were severely lacking in this documentary. One was the entire lack of information about how artists on all levels of their careers make a living. Even the two minutes that discussed the Smithsonian Craft Show stressed more about artists coming together at a show to hang out, and not to actually earn a living. Not everyone can teach school or be in the Renwick, the Fuller, etc.

The other angle that I thought was missing was the effects of imports and knock-offs on the American craft movement. To ignore this issue is to ignore one of the ways in which crafts fits into American culture.

I agree, of course, that it was nice to see craft for craft's sake on national television. My concern is that we marginalize ourselves when we fail to connect craft to a wider social experiences.

Andrew said...

Great comments all around. I agree fully with Daniel W that by failing to connect craft to wider social experiences it definitely becomes marginalized. I think it was a mistake to completely leave out the whole DIY movement as well. While there may not be the "technical virtuosity" in a lot of the DIY work, the energy and enthusiasm that they are bringing to the craft field (whether they are acknowledged or not) is really exciting.

If there were a portion highlighting the DIY movement, I think that would have a gone a long way towards bridging some significant gaps that exist in the field and also would have done a lot to connect craft to a wider audience.