Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Arts & Crafts Philosophy

I talk about the Arts and Crafts movement a lot and even have a substantial amount of pieces inspired by this style. I suppose I should explain why I am so interested in this period.

Though typically arts and crafts usually refer to pom-poms, felt, feathers, and summer camp, there was a period in world history, specifically the late 19th and early 20th century Britain and America (flourishing from 1910-1925), where craftsmanship and pride in one’s work became an artistic and architectural movement. Famous names including Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, Greene and Greene, William Morris, and Walter Crane epitomized this movement.

The Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman movement arose as a protest against the neutering effect of the Industrial Revolution on artistic expression and quality craftsmanship. The emphasis was on mass production and appeal, and the torch carriers of the A&C movement reacted with an emphasis on hand-made goods, artistic expression without showy expressions of grandeur (ala Rococo), and emphasis on the details and “guts” of their work. Things appeared simple, but the craftsmen deliberately made their work more complex than needed, to subtly showcase their talent and ability.

This can be seen the photos here. Architectural expressions came with the exposure and emphasis of support structure and built-ins with a heavy use of wood. In furniture, the emphasis was on simple lines with complicated construction that was both durable and expressive. This manifested itself in complicated joinery and subtle inlay- just because it was harder (and more interesting). In other forms of art, A&C influences included the use of

traditional mediums such as pottery, silver, and tapestry, and the attempt to increase complexity and detail while still remaining uncomplicated.

So… you can see where the connection to papercutting exists. Papercutting is an overall simplistic art with a basic material, however papercutters create complicated designs that at first appear to be straight-forward until closer inspection reveals the complexity of the art. It isn’t about overt showy-ness, it’s about the details and the quality of work. I try to push this medium to its limit, but I never want to come off as being showy and overt.

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