|"Persian Jar," wheel thrown. altered Raku fired vessel, Michael Simon|
Craft art has always seemed like a second sister in the contemporary art world. It never strove for the cool or cerebral status of Pop or Post-Modern Art, the two movements that, after the excesses of Abstract Expressionism, came to dominate the mainstream art scene. And, horrors, craft art delighted in showing the hand marks of its makers, a technique strictly avoided in the slick and calculated popular art styles. This alone was enough to land the tradition in the category of amusing artifacts.
But the tradition of fine craft thrives in diverse settings all across the country. This astonishing creative diversity bursts forth in Craft In America, a six part PBS series. In gritty industrial inner cities, in off-the-track Appalachian enclaves, in
North West Coast communities and the arid South West, artists are carrying on handed-down traditions, and most refreshingly, many are bringing their craft into the modern art world.
Using technologies unavailable to their ancestors, these craft visionaries are expanding the boundaries of the hand-made traditions and in the process enriching the lives of those willing to take the time to appreciate it.