If you have ever had the pleasure or the opportunity to work with handmade papers then this short documentary on the papermaker Gangolf Ulbricht will hit right at home. There is nothing like it. In contrast to so much around us that is easily disposable, the experience of handmade paper is transformative. It brings back memories of hours spent at the paper store, combing through hundreds of paper samples to find the right combinations of papers that evoked the experience I was hoping to create went felt in hand.
Craft In America is a truly wonderful program that never ceases to be a source of inspiration and strength. This Craft In America Landscape episode hits particular close to home for me. The topic of the Landscape is a subject matter I returned to in my own work many times. In a similar vein to PBS’s Art 21: Art in the Twenty First Century documentary series, what the artists say and they way they relate to their work and subjects resonates with me.
What I particularly like about Craft In America is the focus on the process of craft, a practice and tradition of creating, and the balance point between technique and inspiration, to create something that has value in our experance with it.
To make art you develop an infallible technique and then place yourself at the mercy of inspiration.
In this episode: Craft artists depend on their natural environment for both materials and inspiration. This hour looks at the processes through which natural materials become finished works of craft, and what deeper messages may be contained therein. Featured artists include Jan Yager, Kit Carson, David Gurney, George & Mira Nakashima, Richard Notkin, and Timberline Lodge.
This wonderful short video documents the work of Craig Jensen of Booklab II a limited edition book binding studio in San Marcos, Texas. I share this in part because of a shared love for book binding, but also because I identify with how Craig talks about the process of building a book. Taking book binding in collage helped me to understand that as an artist I love objects, object creation, material, and processes oriented work. This was true of ceramics and printmaking, but came home in bookbinding.
Craig describes it well:
I like the mechanical aspect of the production. I am really interested in designing systems for how to produce the books at the highest quality; and then i am also quite drawn to the manufacturing process. I really enjoy doing that and trying to make something in multiples that is the quantity that might have often been associated with the single.
Making these books may not result in world peace or end terrorism, but it matters to the people that buy it. It’s art, its a beautiful thing. Thank goodness human beings make art.
– Craig Jensen Booklab II
I don’t think that there is any question but that there is an ongoing art/craft controversy. My point of view about this is the fact that the entire creative act is one. My feeling is that the term ‘art’ actually is an accolade. It doesn’t have anything to do with intent, really. This person is an artist. And, to me, that person can be a craftsperson, maybe a potter, for instance. But some of the people who practice in those different categories are artists. And then, many people who paint and make paintings are not really artists at all. So, my feeling is that the word ‘artist’ is an accolade that is given by others. And the word ‘craftsman’ is a noble word from my point of view because it bears back to tradition and to the formation of all objects of use with which we surrounded ourselves.
In cooperation and coinciding with the exhibition Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art , Stephen Spaccarelli, a talented visual artist, native of the Hudson Valley, and close friend of the foundry and to Dick Polich, has spent the past two years filming and editing footage for ‘Heat of Fusion, a life in the art of casting.’ We are proud to finally share this beautiful and educational film with you.
The documentary includes interviews with Dick’s friends, family, past and current employees, and artists including Rona Pondick, Tom Otterness and Joel Shapiro, and many more. Dick reflects on the foundry’s beginnings, his accomplishments, and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the foundry.
Episode I: Memory
Take a tour through craft’s history in America beginning with the pioneers of the field to the intimate stories of some of our country’s most prominent craft artists. Memory observes how past is prologue, and looks to the dynamic of cultural history and personal heritage in creating objects. Featured artists include Sam Maloof, Garry Knox Bennett, Mary Jackson, Tom Joyce, and Pat Courtney Gold.