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  #1  
Old 05-31-2008, 11:52 AM
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Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I'm 51 years old and until a few years ago could not understand the difference between art and craft. However, through experiences sculpting or carving original models, making molds for them and casting pieces in pewter, art stone or filled resin, it came to me.

Before I divulge my take on these two words, art and craft, I would like to suggest that we can stretch the comparison a step further by stating there is a difference between an artist and a craftsman. How are they different?

I have noticed differences between my own efforts to draw or paint various subjects compared to friends with formal art training. For starters, those people are true artists - they put lines down with style and purpose and seem to achieve desired results without having to tweak the work. Me? I have to beat it up like a basketball zone defense, passing the ball around the perimeter, trying to work a dent in the zone before finally getting a clear shot. There are artists and craftsman. I'm a craftsman.

I have to fool with everything I do until I finally get some part of what I want from it. The revelation became more clear while working on miniature sculptures. I carved a snapping turtle from wood, about the size of your fist. Before I realized a need to leave some high areas that I could trim down to form tubercules on the turtle's neck, I had removed the wood and finished the leathery neck texture. How could I put tubercules on the turtle? Hmmmm... like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I was stuck in the chimney a moment, but not long. It occured to me that I could use some of that viscous tshirt painting glue to apply tubercules. Afterall, no one would ever see the original carving. All I cared about was the finished product. It worked. You can view the finished turtle at bottom of my sculpture page www.mytowntennis.com/pewter.htm

That was a craftsman's solution and method from A to Z.
An artist would never have been in that predicament. Instead, when an artist carves or sculpts a turtle, that thing is viewable and a finished piece, standing alone as art, whether it is molded and reproduced subsequently or not.

I propose that the difference between art and craft and between artists and craftsmen, is about how they get from A to Z. An artist produces clean, pure sculpture that stands alone. A craftsman uses any trick available to get the desired result for the finished product - what happens in the middle doesn't matter!

Anyone agree or disagree?
What is your take on art vs craft / artist vs craftsman?
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2008, 05:21 PM
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Aaron Schroeder Aaron Schroeder is offline
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Artist get paid alot more, Plus you can get a degree in the Arts. They don't hand out masters of craftsmanship degrees. I've always considered the issue to be niether here nor there. I wear both hats proudly and defend each discipline with equal passion.
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:49 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I think an artist creates for themselves and hopes someone will buy it. A craftsman creates to order...something specific for the client and as specified.
Peace
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2008, 01:01 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Janey: That would make Michelangelo, Raphael, Tiepolo, Bernini, and most artists in history craftsmen and not artists.

Here is a foggy attempt at the difference:

An artist may make a utilitarian object, but that object could stand alone independant of its context and touch the soul at a level deeper than normally found in ones day to day eperiences.

A craftsman may create a work of art, but if its highest percieved value is in its workmanship rather than in the idea that it communicates, it may remain too wedded to craft to rise to the lofty, festoon-studded, cherubic-singing realm of art.
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Old 06-01-2008, 01:25 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Barely transferrable intangibles seethe out of a piece or real art. The ACT as opposed to the process, the surprise as opposed to the predicted, effectiveness of the thing as opposed to its usefulness, the unfathomable as opposed to another damn solution. And if you are eating out of it or with it, it aint helping to nourish your consciousness (but I do prefer a visual treat at the bottom of my bowl of grits - a glaring dragon or a multi-colored splash, perhaps).
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  #6  
Old 06-01-2008, 02:47 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I have noticed differences between my own efforts to draw or paint various subjects compared to friends with formal art training. For starters, those people are true artists - they put lines down with style and purpose and seem to achieve desired results without having to tweak the work. Me? I have to beat it up like a basketball zone defense, passing the ball around the perimeter, trying to work a dent in the zone before finally getting a clear shot.

[I would have to disagree, Skip. There are craftspeople, as well as artists, who can preconceive a piece clearly, and go directly to its execution without errors or hesitations. I'd say that facility is more common on the crafts side, actually. But it's okay to grope around a little when you're trying to achieve something different, to realize something that's just on the edge of your consciousness but not entirely worked-out yet. Sure, some art training can help you get from concept to finished piece with fewer detours - so can practice, or crafts training, for that matter.]

I have to fool with everything I do until I finally get some part of what I want from it. The revelation became more clear while working on miniature sculptures. I carved a snapping turtle from wood, about the size of your fist. Before I realized a need to leave some high areas that I could trim down to form tubercules on the turtle's neck, I had removed the wood and finished the leathery neck texture. How could I put tubercules on the turtle? Hmmmm... like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I was stuck in the chimney a moment, but not long. It occured to me that I could use some of that viscous tshirt painting glue to apply tubercules. Afterall, no one would ever see the original carving. All I cared about was the finished product. It worked. You can view the finished turtle at bottom of my sculpture page www.mytowntennis.com/pewter.htm

That was a craftsman's solution and method from A to Z.
An artist would never have been in that predicament. Instead, when an artist carves or sculpts a turtle, that thing is viewable and a finished piece, standing alone as art, whether it is molded and reproduced subsequently or not.

[You're putting artists on a pedestal that they may not wish to occupy. Maybe your definition of art is too narrow. Certainly some art media favor the prepared mind - watercolor, for one, is something that's particularly unforgiving in this regard. On the other hand, if you're working in oil-based clay, you can change your mind all you want - the work will be judged on the final result, not on the steps you took to get there. It's more an issue of individual temperament and the way ones mind works than of any inherent worthyness of one approach or the other.]


I propose that the difference between art and craft and between artists and craftsmen, is about how they get from A to Z. An artist produces clean, pure sculpture that stands alone. A craftsman uses any trick available to get the desired result for the finished product - what happens in the middle doesn't matter!

Anyone agree or disagree?
What is your take on art vs craft / artist vs craftsman?[/quote]

[I think you could substitute "artists" for "craftsmen" in the above sentence and have something that was closer to true. A craftsperson is more limited by the need to produce something quickly and straightforwardly; a production method that is too lengthy and abstruse will not find favor in the crafts realm. An artist, on the other hand, may struggle with a piece for years, obsessively making changes and revisions until it's as nearly perfect as it can be. And of course, "clean" and "pure" are aesthetic directions which attract some artists, but by no means all.

Andrew Werby
www.unitedartworks.com
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2008, 04:41 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

yes i kinda agree with andrew , craftsmen no what ther doing and do it!, like makeing a barrel or a cartwheel hugely technicaly skilled,

the distinction i would use is a craftsman makes something and makes it well.
were as an artist creats something and if he can make what he creates well he is also a craftsman.

Skip i work in pewter as well as bronze cheak out my stuff is it art or craft? then ill tell you how hard i had to work to make it.http://www.castingcourses.co.uk/sculpture.htm
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Old 06-01-2008, 05:03 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

No way. Respectfully, thats totally wrong... the "art" is in the finished object & how you get there is irrelevant.

In fact i would go so far as to say any artist who makes something straight out without revisions & renovations is not trying very hard or may even be an artisan rather than an artist,

i think you have created a philosphical discussion

Regards method, there are carvers & there are modellers... most people are not both. So if you are a modeller & comparing yourself to a mate who is a carver, you are both going to get to the end by different routes. In the end its the destination that is what your audience will see & it don't matter how you get there...
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:43 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

craftsman= functionality above all else & the repetition of tasks/process to produce multiples efficiently, economy of energy.
artist= creative expression above all else with repetition/ multiple only occasionally with worthy pieces. May expend large amounts of energy on a new idea only to have the piece melt in the rain.
The two may cross over occasionally, or briefly, with inspiration or need for income!
just a thought.
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  #10  
Old 06-01-2008, 10:41 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

GlennT- Wasn’t Michelangelo commissioned by the Pope to create one thing…the 12 apostles…but instead Michelangelo changed what he was “hired” to do and was in constant battle? Maybe the Pope thought he was hiring a craftsman when he was really hiring a belligerent artist?
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:45 AM
wolff wolff is offline
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Question Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Trying to fit all artists-or all craftsmen- into a neat, two sentence definition is a very lost cause. To paraphrase Aaron, the issue is largely irrelevant, and both categories have (or deserve) equal validity.

To further muddy the issue, what about those folk who create functional works of art, or those that make non-functional crafts (both of whom there are many). All the nouns (craft, sculpture, art) can easily be used as adjectives.

I think that we generally think of craftspeople as belonging to a very long tradition, deeply connected to the days when the objects that we used in daily life were made by some guy down the street, not a faceless series of laborers in different mines, forests and factories. That`s an important thing. I personally started making sculpture with the strong desire to emulate 15th century woodcarvers-whom I still think of primarily as craftsmen.

Our collective notion of the artist-as a bohemian in search of beauty and truth, or whatever they are in search of- is relatively new, I think. Certainly the ability of the average person to personally dabble in foundry, stone carving and mold making is new. In Michelangelo`s day, those crafts were separate. In no way does it belittle Bernini`s work to think of him as a guy doing a job. Before the widespread emergence of an educated middle class in the 19th and early twentieth centuries, I think most artists were craftspeople.

Personal likes and dislikes aside, it is very, very difficult to compare even something as "objective" as representational sculpture across cultures (and I mean cultures outside of the Greek sphere of influence). But we still persist on projecting our notions and thoughts onto people who live or lived in very different circumstances. Comparing notions rooted in different centuries and societies is not nearly as simple as comparing oranges and apples.

Or maybe craftsmen are simply tied to one or a series of material...and artists are tied to one or a series of concepts...

Bill
www.billwolff.net
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  #12  
Old 06-03-2008, 08:08 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I think some people can naturally draw incredibly well, and others have to practice at it all their lives- but neither is automatically an "artist".

Drawing is a craft, just like stretching a painting, or carving, or etching a perfect litho stone.

What you do with your craft, is what determines if it is art or not.

I have known people who were absolute masters with a brush, who could render perfectly, draw a straight line all day, and were not artists at all, and never represented themselves as such- I used to have a neighbor in LA who pinstriped cars- he was incredible- but to him, ideas and content were totally foreign territory, and he would never call himself an artist.

Then, there was somebody like Francis Bacon, who, technically, didnt paint very well- but he expressed himself in unique ways that many people enjoyed a lot.


And why isnt it possible for one person to be both an artist and a craftsman?
I know several people like that.
Sometimes they do totally seperate bodies of work, and other times their art shows unbelievable craftsmanship.

Me, I appreciate both equally, and find the line between the two is very fuzzy.

I love great craftsmanship in any medium, even painting.
I was just in Buenos Aires, and attended the ArtFair there, and there was a total obsession with all styles of painting- obviously, that is what they consider "Art".
And yet, right outside the exhibition hall are thousands of incredible buildings, with the most beautiful ironwork, stone carving, stained glass, marble, bronzework, and terra cotta- a magnificent bounty of work that interests me, frankly, more than the recycled painting styles within- but nobody there considers it even worth looking at.

Anyone who wants to think more seriously about craft, and what it really means, should read
The Nature and Art of Workmanship, by David Pye.
This book is really great, and talks about why we value craftsmanship in any medium, and how craftsman work to inject that appeal. Its not a lot of pages, or expensive, but he really thought a lot about the subject, and expresses himself very succinctly.

To me, as influenced by Pye, Craftsmanship is when you take the time, often as much as 20 years, to teach your body to work cooperatively between brain, eye, and hand, to the point where the actual work becomes automatic, and the brain can then subconciously create the patterns of work that are the most pleasing. Real craft takes time, and practice. The hand learns, just like the brain, and there are no shortcuts.
Watch a master in any craft, be it baking, knitting, cutting diamonds, or drawing portraits, and you see the years of experience allow the body and mind to work as one- and then, of course, you must have a craftsman with an active and inquiring mind, who is always thinking about what he or she is making.
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  #13  
Old 06-03-2008, 09:51 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

That was a good post Ries. It reminded me that many well-crafted elements in my environment, especially when I was a kid, and in the beautiful 1915 grammar school that I attended, can affect me as profoundly as a work of art. When a designer or craftsman infused their work with love, it can transcend the utilitarian nature and speak directly to the soul about a love for beauty, of form, of nature, of material.
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:55 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ries View Post
.
Watch a master in any craft, and you see the years of experience allow the body and mind to work as one- .
yep, great post Ries,
I recall reading (can't remember where) the 4 stages of the craftsman,
1...unconscious incompetence
2...conscious incompetence
3...conscious competence
4...unconscious competence
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:27 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I like the thread. A little philosophical discussion on an unanswerable art question is always interesting.
Three thoughts--not by way of answer to the question:
First, to get a pure separation of art and craft, hire out the production. The consensus of this site seems to me to be that hiring out the actual production is artistically acceptable, so to avoid any taint of mere craft, hire it out!
Second, to me, emotionally and aesthetically, the combination of art and craft is what makes a work most memorable.
Third, the requirement [or necessity] that the artist craft his work has the effect of filtering out a lot of glib artifacts constructed by well funded but not well grounded authors. Perhaps I should close my mind to all but the final result, but I can't seem to avoid taking most seriously the work of someone who has spent the time and had the commitment to learn the craft.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:45 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Learning the craft means doing "proficiently" like all the other good ones before you. Same old well-executed song and dance. Redefine the craft with innovation, invention and adventure and you've got a chance to make it to Art. Make it your own game, the process, by your rules. Everyone elses way of doing it, though ingested, tried, appreciated, absorbed, is only your beginning. Do what THEY do and you might yet make a fine crafter. Hammer-in your screws and twist-in your nails...I'll bet something neato will come of it.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:14 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Thanks for all the comments. I had expected this topic might be old and from the excellent mix of responses it seems that might be the case for some but not all. Yes, I agree that the topic is philosophical and really doesn't matter a lot or at all. What matters is what each of us do with our time, learned or unlearned, etc. I saved all of your websites to my favorites - fantastic work. Bill... man those are some very interesting carvings - I presume the large horn shapes and human-ish forms are wood? Something very aesthethic about the horn shapes... draws the eye. "More' is very interesting. Malaki - your work is sick - I say sick in a slang/good way. Good grief... what an artist! Yeah, I'd love to hear how you carve those human shells from wood - really cool pieces! Ries, that is some super keen industrial art and wirework. To everyone else, thank you for commenting. Everyone here is way beyond and ahead of me in skill and creative spark. I am feeling pretty small and embarrassed after leaving so many replies over the past weekend. Please pardon my stupidity! Great forum and fantastic artists!
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:19 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I would like to take this thread a bit further.

What are the key points to a piece being "a work of art".?

I have always felt (to be art) the sculpture had to "excite" you in some way. To draw on something a bit deeper than "just" being nice.

Personally I find it difficult to accept Animal sculpture as "art".

I would like to hear other points of view.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:29 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

beaulyons:

Would you consider these representations of animals to be "art"?
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:52 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

There is no "kind" of sculpture that cannot be art. The "artness" occurs IN SPITE OF the subject, content or handiwork. Fact is, you know damn well when you're doing it, and you know when you're making something else (possibly a living). So before you wash the soot off at the end of the day just look in the mirror and ask that soiled perpetrator what he/she had been doing...art or craft?. Thats where you get the answer.
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:18 AM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

hey glenn just wanted to ask are those coins and if so would you please tell me more about them
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:06 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

I have always felt the Art and Craft were two sperate things with occassional overlaps. Overall, my definition of craft has been something functional (form follows function). Even things as beautiful as a Tifany lamp, is still a lamp and that makes it (in my mind) Craft. Gargoyles also serve a usefull purpose and even though some of them are really beautiful and evoke all kinds of emotions in me, I still see them as Craft. There are things that are non-functional which still fall into the craft category.. alot of glass work falls under craft for me because it doesn't evoke emotion. Chiluley(?) is one of those guys who creates really beautiful work, but alot of it is functional (chandeliers and centerpieces) so I've always had a tough time anwering the Art/Craft question when it came to his work. Ultimateley, I think he's one of those bridge type artists, who turns craft into art.

When it comes to Artist or Craftperson, I don't really see any differences. I do alot of craft. I'm a wood worker who builds most of the furniture in my house. I also build the frames that some of my 2D work goes into. I've never called what I do art, but I put just as much care and thought into the craft I build as I do the Art I make. Everyone finds the end of the road in different ways. Some of us pull out maps and study the terain before ever leaving, others just take off and enjoy the ride to wherever, and there's some of us who have to stop along the way to get back on the right track. But in the end it doesn't matter how we get there, it hust matters that we get there (or at the very least we enjoyed the ride before turning around or getting a speeding ticket)

Alfred
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:06 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Yes, those are coins from ancient Greece. The first one is from Elis, Olympia, home of the original Olympic games. It is a silver stater (coin denomination) about the size of a US quarter, from the 94th Olympiad in 404 BC. The coinage from Olympia was minted only for use at the olympic games, and people who came there had to convert their home coinage into that of Olympia. The eagle was a symbol of Zeus, as was the thunderbolt on the reverse. Olympia was the site of a famous, huge gold and ivory statue of Zeus by Phidias from the mid 5th century BC, as well as a huge statue of his wife Hera by Polykleitos from around 420 BC.

The second coin is a silver didrachm (worth two drachms) also about the size of the other coin, from Larissa in Thessaly, about 350-325 BC. Thessaly was known for their horses and calvary. The other side of the coin has a beautiful facing head of the nymph Larissa.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:29 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

Quote:
Originally Posted by beaulyons View Post
Personally I find it difficult to accept Animal sculpture as "art".
I would like to hear other points of view.
never considered "sitting bull' a piece of craft,
kids and I had an emotional response to it,

ps. the pic is in 3D for those that can do the crosseyed thing.
(look straight at the pic, go crosseyed until you see three blurry images, then focus on the center one) magic...... it must be art.....
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:59 PM
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Re: Difference between Art and Craft - A Craftsman's Take

There seems to be a reoccurring theme here that I have always disagreed with. Bad art isn't craft and good craft isn't art. My measuring stick has always been, if I look at a piece and am primarily struck by How it was made then it's mostly a craft piece, whereas if I'm mostly struck by Why it was made then it's art. I have strong emotional reactions to a lot of pieces that I still consider craft under that definition. I'd also add that the qualifier Fine means that there are aspects of both art and craft exhibited in the piece(i.e. fine art must have a degree of technical accomplishment and fine craft must have some original aesthetic appeal)
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