From the Archives: Crafts and Arts

August 20 2013


August 20, 2013. In his interview with Art Practical, Glen Adamson states that he wants “craft to be not so tacit or unspoken, not so hidden offstage. I want it to be something that everyone sees happening before their eyes and thinks constantly about how it should be structured.” It’s hard to think of an art-related word as thorny, sticky, and slippery as craft. Anyone who has ever tried to translate the word into another language knows its wide array of meanings. Craft can describe the facture of a particular artwork, or it can refer to an entire genre of production. It points to both general and specific historical practices (e.g., the Arts and Crafts movement, the craft tradition) and can be a descriptor used to create hierarchies (consider the very different images associated with a craft fair and an art fair).

This selection from the Art Practical archive offers no definitive reference for the term but instead explores the rich diversity of craft and the myriad ways it appears in art. Allison Smith discusses her approach to craft as a performative act that provides a “tactile entry point” into history. Craft is deployed in its complex richness in shows by John deFazio, Colter Jacobson, Will Rogan, and Creativity Explored. But craft is also found in some other surprising places: Felix Schramm’s intervention at SFMOMA raises the possibility of understanding architecture in terms of craft. And Patricia Maloney’s review of Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) underscores the importance of facture in this film, “Marclay’s precise coordination of action, setting, eye lines, camera movement, or pacing between clips constantly inaugurates new trajectories of meaning while consistently underscoring the mechanics by which those meanings are constructed.”  Marclay’s film had the eerie effect of drawing viewers simultaneously into and out of the illusion of narrative cinema, a less tacit role for craft may lead to similar outcomes in criticism.—Bruno Fazzolari

Art Practical has invited its regular writers to guest-edit thematic issues of content from our archive this summer as we prepare for the launch of our new website in September. These issues highlight the breadth of subjects we've covered over the past four years and some of the notable interests that catalyze artistic practice in the Bay Area. And here's a sneak peek of what is coming up for Art Practical. 


Interview with Allison Smith

Interview with Allison Smith

By Patricia Maloney

At this point, I am interested in taking on the discourse around material culture and visual studies that has really broadened how we can see cultural production beyond art works or craft. That’s where I can enter into something like trench art and think about it as a kind of creative practice that changes the way I see myself as an artist in the world. What does it mean to take the conflicts of the world and try to do something creative from those extreme circumstances, using what is hand?

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Interview with Glenn Adamson

Interview with Glenn Adamson

By Bean Gilsdorf

Adamson posed a question that was to become an encapsulation of his practice as a historian and curator: “When the climate is so militantly hostile to an intelligent handling of craft, how is a curator who is interested in craft to navigate the shoals?” His answer is disarmingly simple: “treat craft as a subject, not a category.”

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