Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Neither Art nor Craft?

Is the debate about "art vs. craft" actually a secondary effect of real differences in audience preference? If the difference rests in audience preferences then the debate about an item's category becomes pointless. Instead, we should shift to a study of what kind of audience prefers more complex haptic stimuli.

Supposition I - Audience maturity

a) Is an interest in image the indication of a young audience, new audience, or beginner audience, in that the purpose of the viewer is to get the point, the point of the story, to find the reason for reading the piece (e.g., the moral of the story)?

b) Is an interest in haptic qualities the sign of a mature audience, one that seeks unknown and unfamiliar stimulus that reaches beyond a simple reading?

Supposition II - Audience politics

a) Is the viewer's interest in paint qualities, for example, that of a traditionalist, a newly art-educated viewer, or someone just starting to view art in galleries and museums?

b) Is the viewer's interest in non-paint qualities associated with one of several political movements such as feminism, craft activism, anti-art, or other stance that identifies them with a body of knowledge?

Supposition III - Audience aesthetics

a) Is the viewer's interest in non-paint qualities associated with any particular set of technical knowledge (scientific, new media, ...)?

b) Is the viewer's interest in non-paint qualities a result of interest in psychological or phenomenological response and association, effects that require a certain lived experience to interpret?

Monday, January 02, 2012

What is a tapestry resource?

What does it mean to be a tapestry resource? Originally I thought of this blog as a place where solid information about tapestry could reside for people to use as a reference. Bibliographies, papers, articles, shows, materials and supplies, and some kind of running commentary about events. Unfortunately, about the time I set up the blog I also became deeply enmeshed in running ATA. Non-profits have much to offer our community and in 2002 we stood at a turning point.

Ten years later, released from all but a few remaining volunteer tasks for ATA, I can take up other challenges that will benefit us. Mostly I am thinking about our efforts to enlarge the world's view of contemporary tapestry and fiber art. I have some specific projects in mind.

Political Lines in Tapestry is a discussion group in the ATA Forums that started in 2009 and will continue in 2012. This small circle of participants sparks many ideas that will affect my focus.

A session titled "Political Strings: Tapestry Seen and Unseen" that I organized at ATA's request will present four speakers at the 2012 TSA Symposium in Washington, D.C. Speakers Linda Rees, Stanley Bulbach, Linda Wallace, and Clara Roman-Odio will examine the puzzle of contemporary textile artists' engagements with the art world and the visibility of works in woven media, particularly tapestry. Their main site is here: http://textilesociety.org/index.htm

We also need to start seeing ourselves as more than tapestry makers. We are also fans, collectors, and people with a deep understanding of the works we have seen appear around us. An open discussion forum called "Fans and Collectors" will provide a place to share enthusiasm, expertise and opinions about what we have accomplished. You can find this new forum here: http://www.americantapestryalliance.org/phpBB2/index.php

And that's just part of what I have in mind for this year.