Friday, June 18, 2010 the eye of the knitter?

There's been questions running around in my brain lately that I would very much like your opinion on.   

Are you game?

Ok, here goes...

What is art?  What does art mean to you?

What is the difference between an artist and an artisan?  Is there a difference?

Do you consider yourself an artist?

If you are an artist, do you make your living through your art?  Why or why not?

What is your definition of fine art?  What are some examples?

And the big question on my mind:  Does FIBER ART fall into the category of fine art?  Is knitting, crocheting, needle felting, lace making, weaving, and spinning art...or craft?

Depends, you say?

What does it depend upon?

How do you decide what is art and what is not?


Have I asked enough questions to get you going?  Do you even care about any of this?  Have you ever given it any thought?  Do you think it matters?

Do you simply create to create, or do you have a mission, a purpose when you create?

Let me offer a few basic dictionary definitions to get you started:


the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.
(in printed matter) illustrative or decorative material: Is there any art with the copy for this story?
the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling.
the craft or trade using these principles or methods.
skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation.
a branch of learning or university study, esp. one of the fine arts or the humanities, as music, philosophy, or literature.
skilled workmanship, execution, or agency, as distinguished from nature.


an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, esp. manual skill: the craft of a mason.
skill; dexterity: The silversmith worked with great craft.
skill or ability used for bad purposes; cunning; deceit; guile.
the members of a trade or profession collectively; a guild.


a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor.
a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.


a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.


a person who practices or is highly skilled in a craft; artisan.

And now for the fun part!  Grab something to sip on, get in a comfy position...

Take your time.  

Let me share with you some images of fiber art. 

What do you see?  How do these images make you feel?    Do you know how many different things can fall into this category?  I have found them randomly and saved them because they remind me of the fabulous diversity of the industry I work and play in every day.

I have posted them here randomly for your enjoyment, but also for your consideration... 

The question I have is this:  art or not?  Craft?  Or something else entirely?

 Ok, so I threw this one in just because...not fiber art, but fiber art related, eh?  I just thought it was cool!  Tatoos...a whole other discussion for another day. ;)

Some interesting things, aren't there?

Isn't she just awesome?

Can art be practical and useful? 

What part, if any, do textiles play in the world of "fine art?"

And just a few more....

Is this fun, or what?  :)

So, before I give you my thoughts on the subject, I'd really like to hear yours.

After looking at all of these images, which ones fit your definition of art?  craft?  Why?  

You might go back and reread the dictionary definitions.  Have these images changed your mind on anything?  Do you see fiber art in a different way than you did before?  How so?  

Wish we could sit down in person and have this conversation, but we will have to settle for the next best thing!  Looking forward to reading what you have to say. 

I will return shortly for Part 2...


  1. My definition of art has broadened quite a bit over the years. I think it's somewhat hard to define because it's pretty darn subjective. I've seen things displayed in galleries that didn't speak to me artistically...and seen things in every day life that did. Does that mean one is any more or less "art"? I don't think so.

    For me art triggers my creative juices. It makes me wonder. To pause and appreciate the final result as well as the process that resulted in the art and the skills needed to create the object/performance/etc.

    I think we sell ourselves short when we put art up on a pedestal as something only SOME people can make. We all have the ability to create. We all benefit from the process of creating. Call it art, call it craft, whatever.

    That being said, I do think that while we can all be artists in our own right, artisans and craftpersons are in a special category. They are the cream of the crop. Those who have devoted time into refining their a hobby or a profession. Just because I have thrown a clay pot doesn't make me a pottery artisan. I think we can all aspire to that level...but it takes time and energy.

    In the end I try not to think about it all too much. I think sometimes our desire to come up with an exacting definition closes the door to possibilities.

    Thanks for starting the conversation!

  2. And thanks for your thoughtful reply Jenn! I need not just a "like" button to click, but a "love" one (like Ravelry!:), love, love your take on it.

  3. Shoot! I left a huge comment here the other day, and I just came back to see if you had replied and it's not showing up. Phooey! I will have to write it up again when I have a minute. :(

  4. Oh Marie, I have done that as well and it is so frustrating! Yes, please repost if you get the time. I knew you would have some insight on this one! ;)