Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Bridge is Over Between Craft and so-called "High Art"

The Museum had its first most excellent Ellen Gates Starr Craftivism Knitting Salon last week.   To insist that the bridge is over when discussing the long standing feud between craft and high art is not the same thing as collapsing all differences and erasing any distinctions between the two.  Homogenizing the world and calling all things art or all things craft would not lead to a desirable world.    Maintaining a tension between the two, without valuing one over the other is what we should be working towards.  Both what we call craft and what we call art in our particular societies, have separate socio-economic, political and gendered histories that are of course entangled in one another, but should not be forgotten.  These histories can and will inform different modes of resistance for both.  For example, because it is often communal, and because it holds onto its identity as creations with "use value," crafting plays a different role in the public sphere.  It can be a means for circumventing traditional market models and artists often use craft as a largely unregulated place of protest because of this relationship to commodity culture.  

At the salon, we talked about these things and also Red Velvet Cupcakes, gender and craft, the cultural history of knitting, why knitters are mean and bitchy towards crocheters, our own personal histories of how we started knitting, the best yarn stores in Chicago, and rare breeds of feral sheep in the outer Hebrides of Scotland and New Zealand. (Click here to read more about those wacky sheep.)

We describe the series this way:  

It is Time for a Revolution.
The quiet thought that once whispered in the minds of a few women has quickly become a collective roar that unifies women across the globe, and is impossible to ignore.  You may have noticed the revolution taking place in the fervent pleasure of knitters or the blissful content of crocheters on the Blue Line or in cafes throughout the city. This series is devoted to the insistence  on the radical importance of making in  a world where there is so much destruction and unmaking.

Brown Bag Stitching Salon:
Fridays from 12-1:30PM
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted. No RSVP necessary.