Is it the ‘art of craft’ or the ‘craft of art’? Gallery asks DiWhy

Katie Sorrell, 22, makes a final adjustment to her piece during the opening of 'DiWhy?'. Craft exhibits, such as this one at the OCC, are helping alert the public that crafts are comparable to art. 

Do it Yourself crafting, or DIY, has gone through many moments throughout history. It has grown through out history into its own subculture complete with artists that do not wish to define their art and the followers that embrace the unbridled creativity.

Arts and craft movements can be linked throughout the 1900s and can be seen flourishing today at an exhibit at the Ontario Craft Council (OCC).

With such a rich history of craftwork behind us, Janna Hiemstra, curator, asked craft artists of today’s generation the question of what DIY means to them and how it affects their creative process.

“It was an open call for entry,” Hiemstra said, “We asked each person about their approach to DIY”.

The exhibit is called DiWhy? It is a play on words to emphasize the theme of the exhibit and what was asked of each craft artist. The exhibit is made up of craft artists that responded to the open call. A jury of three active members of the DIY community chose a select few pieces, represented in the gallery.

“All three (of the jurors) have awesome connections to actual DIY subcultures and that’s why they were chosen.” Hiemstra explained, “They understand the themes going on in the work.”

The jury, responsible for selecting which pieces will be in the exhibit, includes Jen Anisef, a member of Toronto Craft Alert which “is a community hub and online service for craft, DIY and design related activity happening locally.”

“(The artists) were all asked to answer the question (of what DIY means to them) and how it explained their point of view in their craft.” Anisef said, “We chose what was most evocative and what resonated with us.”

Unlike historical art movements such as 1600’s Baroque, Cubism, made famous by artists like Pablo Picasso, or the Italian avant-garde, movements that have come to be defined by certain guidelines and restrictions, craft has been continually changing and developing throughout history.

Craft artists do not wish to be defined by a strict theme or set guidelines that would keep them, or their talent, restrained.

“We’re not looking for this exhibit to define it,” Hiemstra said, “It’s more to explore what’s actually going on.”

Breaking down barriers and stepping further away from the negative predispositions and definitions of craft art, the idea that artists display in galleries while crafts are sold at markets, Anisef and Hiemstra hope that these artists will push the envelope of craft work thus equating the crafts of today with those history has already recognized.

The DiWhy? exhibit, which runs until March, includes selected pieces from 16 craft artists ranging in materials from everyday textiles such as paper to the uniqueness of slide-show slides.

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Posted: Feb 9 2009 8:04 am
Filed under: Arts & Life