Where is Tradition in American Studio Craft?

June 1st, 2011 - 7pm | College Art Association 2011

American studio craft suffers amnesia in locating and attaching to a robust history and celebrated tradition that exists in the history of decorative arts. Considered by most historians of craft and design as a foundation, decorative arts history explores the development of materials, techniques, and artists, intermixed with history, economics, science and politics. Knowing the varied materials, their development at the hands of great artists, the virtuosic objects created that mark the past and the ideas behind them that are interwoven in these engaging objects, one can say that nothing is new; just each decade drawing on and embellishing the previous one’s appropriations and discoveries. The threads run long from these current days of making to the years that predate the first stirrings of the American studio craft movement. In examining studio craft practice today the threads are ever present. With a slight tug, one can see the connections to earlier traditions found in previous decades or even centuries. If we are struggling with the word tradition maybe it is not the word we wish to embrace. Given the length of these threads, shouldn’t we be discussing studio craft practice in the context of heritage within the framework of the history of decorative arts?

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