Let your fingers do the arting


post from Judith Schaechter

Regarding the posts about the fibers shows at Abington and Spector Gallery you ask [in a post dated 9/15/03]: Is all this labor-intensive art a reaction against found object conceptualism? I think most people who develop a preference for labor-intensity are not doing it as a reaction, response or critique of anything but due to strong personal compulsions–like an abundance of anxious energy, a deep belief in a work ethic or sheer love of hands-on involvement with materials.(Image is from medieval manuscript, “Book of Kells.”)

Many self-defined crafts people develop their ideas primarily through hands-on involvement and trust that their hands (and eyes) are equal participants with the brain in the creative process. The tension between conceptual vs. craft art is as basic as our anxiety about the mind vs. body–and neither conflict is going any place soon. The disparaging of craft in fine art has a lot to do with politics of “value,” discomfort with our bodies, mistrust of our senses and a desire to avoid anything that smacks of manual labor.


–Judith Schaechter is a regular contributor to artblog. You can see her work at Claire Oliver Fine Art.