Saturday, November 5, 2011

The question of validation revisited...

Last week I posted the text from a small article I wrote for the latest edition of the American Tapestry Alliance's newsletter, Tapestry Topics. You can read that HERE.

I am interested in furthering discussion in the tapestry artist community about professionalism and how we can increase our presence in the art world as artists. (And though I mention the art vs. craft debate in the article, in the many months since I wrote it, I have come to strongly suspect that that particular discussion is mostly just a waste of time and we should be talking about why tapestry and fiber art in general is not frequently recognized as an art form in the art world today.) So perhaps the real problem for me is not so much that I don't have a degree in art, but that my chosen artistic field is not one that is regularly recognized AS art. We as tapestry artists are good at recognizing each other and showing tapestry work, but how many  shows or galleries do you go to where you see tapestry showcased along with other mediums?

I believe there are many people involved in ATA who are interested in these questions and would love to see tapestry perceived by the art public as an art form. There are a few people who have worked lately on getting the ATA forums going again and perhaps that can be one means of communication among tapestry artists.

So if you are a fiber artist, what is your experience in the art world? And if it hasn't been a positive experience, what can be done to change it?

And if these questions are intriguing to you, consider a book I just finished reading called The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: the Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson. The book starts with the example of a Damien Hirst piece titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which, according to Thompson, is a contemporary work of art consisting of a shark caught in 1991 in Australia, prepared and mounted in England by technicians under Hirst's direction, presented in a giant glass vitrine which weighed two tons (not easy to get home).  The selling price was twelve million dollars. From there the book explores the world of art auction houses (primarily Christies and Sothebys), dealers, and art fairs. This is a world in which tapestry plays very little part.  The question is, why?

1 comment:

  1. Rebecca,

    I look forward to more of this conversation. As a new weaver with aspirations to become an art weaver, I find the experiences and perceptions of those currently dealing with these issues most valuable.
    Is the lack of representation of textiles in the art community connected with the decreased availability of textile programs in our art schools, or did it begin before that? Many traditional art forms seem to be falling out of favor, if you will, within art education. . . as is the value of artisan skills within our culture. The necessity of art in the lives of human beings, as well as the necessity to keep all of these skills in our cultural conscience is all the more reason to fight for the answers. Thank you for your contribution.


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