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Who am I and do I care?

From the first time I took a needle to canvas, almost 17 years ago, I have read and heard many heated discussions on whether needlepoint is a craft or an art.  And if it is an art, whether I am an artist or a designer?  On top of that, I have always wondered why the needlepoint world confuses designers/artists with teachers of needlepoint technique?
I'll start with the last one, it's the easiest.  Being a good teacher requires excellent knowledge of the subject matter.  But it also requires an ability to capture attention and interest, an ability to take the complicated and break it down to the accessible.  Do you need to get formal education in order to know a subject matter very well?  Not necessarily, and when we think of teaching technique, of hand-work, years of experience or great motor skills are just as important.  You can teach good practices that assist in the making of a good teacher, you can teach how to prepare a lesson, how much to try to cover in a given period, how to assess the progress of a class.  But how to walk in to a classroom and within a few minutes to have all eyes on you, twinkling and showing great curiosity, you can't teach that.  
Now, let's say you are a wonderful needlepoint teacher both knowledgeable and possessing the ability to transfer the knowledge, does that mean that you are also a great needlepoint designer?  Or a great fiber artist?  The answer is obviously: NO!  Then why do we ask designers to teach and if they are indeed artists, why do we judge their technique, or in needlepoint terms... why do we look at the back of their canvas?
What about craft vs. art and is needlepoint one or the other.  When I use the word craft, I use it with the highest regard, the very highest.  To me, craft means not only what you create but also how well you create it.  What degree of importance you put on the beauty of the "how" and not only the beauty of the what.
From the Philadelphia Museum of Art 2011 Craft Show
From Wikipedia: In English, to describe something as a craft is to describe it as lying somewhere between an art (which relies on talent) and a science (which relies on knowledge).    
To me, that sounds very much like needlepoint. 

I don't think I care about how to define what I do.  I think I care to: 
1. enjoy it  
2.  do it to the best of my ability  
3. bring joy and excitement to the viewer and the stitcher.

Now, off to make dinner!


Elmsley Rose  – (November 20, 2011 at 11:49 AM)  

I like the word "artisan" myself. "Artist" smacks of pretension to me (all those people in black at galleries), and "Craft" reminds me of scrapbookers.

Orna Willis  – (November 21, 2011 at 4:11 AM)  

I love the word as well but it really relates to craft: An artisan (from Italian: artigiano) is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools.

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