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Lesson Plans

more folk art comments (long, also)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
tommye scanlin (
Tue, 27 May 1997 17:50:07 -0400

Hi again, list,
Another comment today causes me to respond. Michele Gorse said:
"Even among academics there is a distinction made between fine art and
craft and ceramics is often the step sister. Many professors don't even
consider ceramics to be worthy of catagorization as a discipline. Potters
especially are the lowest in the scheme of things. My own personal taste
runs towards folk art and the wares made by anonymous artists. I love the
unpretentionness of the work."

Michele, you've touched upon two points quite valid, I think. I
just posted a lengthy comment about Howard Finster and outsider've hit one of the things I really find exciting about the work
when you say "I love the unpretentionness of the work." And, this applies
to work of other kinds, in addition to pottery, I feel. Yet, now that folk
art or outsider art has been a financial success to some extent in the art
marketing world, some people sort of see this as a cash cow and some, to
quote someone I talked to recently, seek to "take classes in folk art." In
fact, "faux folk" is a phrase used in the past few years to describe the
work by these people. In pottery and other crafts there is usually the
need to master the technique, to some extent, before beginning to offer
works for sale--but not so in painting.
Your other point was very poignant when you said that "Many
professors don't even consider ceramics to be worthy of catagorization as a
discipline. Potters especially are the lowest in the scheme of things."
Well, probably not quite the lowest, if there's a weaving program in a
school. Weaving has been traditionally viewed as the lowest of the low, in
many cases. Not, possibly, in Europe, but at least it has been seen so in
many of the universities in the U.S. Many weaving programs have ended over
the past decade in schools in this country, or may exist as part of a more
general textile or fiber area. My medium is tapestry, and there is an
incredible lack of information in the United States about what tapestry
weaving is. Most people know the word, of course, and think it means any
pictorial fabric or fiber tehcnique, including needlepoint, embroidery,
painting on fabric, etc. Not so, at all. Tapestry is an ages old
technique of weaving in which the warp (the element on the loom) is
completely covered by weft (the filler) in a plain weave structure. The
weft creates the design by being woven in many discontinuous bundles. Now,
why would anyone want to make a design through such a slow and tedious
process? Good question, and one I usually can answer by saying that the
surface created by tapestry weaving is unlike any other that exists. It is
also important to me that both the structure and the design are integrated
so totally with each other that neither would exist if both weren't there,
and this touches me deeply.
Another long commentary, I'm afraid. But, along with the
importance (or lack of it) of the work made by those classified as folk
artists I feel the work of the weaver is often ignored in the United
States. So, off the soap-box again, and back to the lurking mode!