Am I Making Art or Craft?

Art (via Merriam-Webster)

  • something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings
  • works created by artists : paintings, sculptures, etc., that are created to be beautiful or to express important ideas or feelings

Craft (via Merriam-Webster)

  • an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands
  • a job or activity that requires special skill

I have a beef with these definitions, namely "to be beautiful" and "created by artists." Many artworks are purposefully created to be what we consider "ugly" for the sake of urging the viewer to question the word "beautiful." Also, "beautiful" is a subjective term that varies from culture to culture; it seems a bit silly to use such a word in a definition.  "Created by artists" forms two different camps:  1. those who believe everyone is an artist in their own right, and 2. those who believe certain training, natural talent, or knowledge of art is required.

Just think on those things...

Now welcome to my world.

While trying to elevate my art from hobby to a part-time job status, I come across many call for artists and residency posts.  I would be thrilled to receive a nod from either of these, but I find that my idea and work doesn't make the cut.  I'm not doing anything particularly cutting-edge or controversial, but I'm not painting hydrangeas or landscapes of Georgia's coast.  I'm painting works that exercise my stroke quality, composition, and color theory.  My works just make me feel good.  It's fairly selfish.  I'd categorize the pieces as expressionism, and I realize this is nothing avant-garde for 2015.  Current artists in "emerging artist" galleries are breaking the mold with something political, inspiring, or just flat out LARGE in scale. They have something to say about the world they're living in, and it's thought provoking and exciting.  It has to be loud to be seen.  I, unfortunately, am not loud... in more ways than one.

Perhaps if I was better at explaining that I see the human race as a body of individually emotive creatures that all come from the same stuff, no matter the social status or spot on the globe we call home... Maybe then I could be seen as more creative, and not just a painter?  In my mind, we're all atoms and energy.  We all have complex, colorful, infinite stuff inside that can be seen as beautiful or terrifying.  Or every other descriptor.  We don't have words to describe each and every combination of feelings that make an emotion, and we don't have words to explain the infinite amount of stuff the Earth is floating amongst.  The possibilities for each are endless.

I also have the strong sense of keeping traditions alive (see my previous post on Southern-ness).  Handmade items intrigue me: paintings, quits, pottery, dark room photography... there is something honest and human about making things with your hands, and I gravitate to that.  Human scale, human made.  When did we have to be so extreme to be noticed?

If I have this idea that means something to me, and I paint it out as an exercise of my skill ... Is it art or craft