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Objects and Meaning

New Perspectives on Art and Craft

Anna M. Fariello and Paula Owen - Contributions by M Anna Fariello; Patricia Malarcher; Rob Barnard; John Perreault; James Sanders; Marcia Tucker; Johanna Drucker; Michele Hardy; Suzanne Ramljak; Polly Ullrich and Bruce Metcalf

Throughout the 20th century, there were increasing numbers of artists who chose to work within a fine art aesthetic (i.e., expressive, communicative, innovative, unique) while simultaneously embracing qualities associated with craft production (i.e., intimacy, materiality, labor, ritual). At the periphery of their world loomed issues of status, gender, community, and economics. This fluid situation made for an exciting mix of ideas that helped perpetuate an ongoing debate within an art world no longer as monothematic as it appeared in print. Objects and Meaning expands upon a national conversation questioning how various academic disciplines and cultural institutions approach and assign meaning to artist-made objects in postmodern North America. Although most of the discourse since the mid 20th century revolved around the split between art and craft, the contributors to this collection of essays take a broader view, examining the historical, cultural, and theoretical perspectives that defined the parameters of that conversation. Their focus is on issues concerning works that appeared to 'cross over' from mainstream art to an amorphous and pluralistic aesthetic milieu that has yet to be defined. The essays collected for this volume, loosely organized into three groupings_Historical Contexts, Cultural Systems, and Theoretical Frames_contribute to a deeper understanding of the meaning of objects and how that meaning comes to be defined. Although the style of writing in this collection ranges from passionate conviction to cool observation with points of view from different professional backgrounds, each essay reflects original ideas introduced into the cultural dialogue during this period. « less more »
Scarecrow Press
Pages: 248Size: 5 3/4 x 8 3/4
978-0-8108-5701-8 • Paperback • October 2005 • $41.00 • (£27.95)
M. Anna Fariello is an independent curator with Curatorial InSight and on the faculty of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Tech. She is a former Renwick Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art; a Fulbright scholar to Latin America, and material culture co-chair for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2003. Paula Owen has been the Director of the Southwest School of Art & Craft in San Antonio, Texas, since 1996 and is former Director of the Hand Workshop Art Center in Richmond, Virginia. She has served on several national and regional boards and panels, including visual arts panels for the National Endowment for the Arts.
The crux of Objects and Meaning is to examine approaches to and meaning of recent artist-made objects. 'Though most of the discourse since mid-century has revolved around the split between art and craft, our personal interest extended to other facets of the topic,' explain the editors. Those explorations are grouped into three categories - historical contexts, cultural systems (theories about the cultural position of artist-made objects), and theoretical frames (new ways to look at craft and artist-made objects). The contributors include artists, critics, and museum professionals.
Museum News

What is the place of craft within an art-historical continuum? What are the 'institutional systems' that have separated craft from art? Are craft artists doomed to perpetual second-class status in the art world and have they contributed to it by sheltering themselves within their own insular institutions? What are different ways of 'reading' the craft object? These are among the questions addressed in this anthology of essays...
American Craft

Anna Fariello and Paula Owen's Objects and Meaning presents 13 provocative essays on the history, production, and analysis of aesthetic three-dimensional objects....The collection is well documented and full of such wry observations as John Perraeault's 'art making that is a hobby is the art that is free'...Overall, the ideas and arguments put forward in Objects and Meaning will surely, as the editors claim, 'continue to inform our view of artist-made objects' well into the 21st century.

It is useful, patchy, and earnest....

How do art and craft relate to each other and, more important, what can they do to the artist? In this collection of 13 essays, contributors focus on these questions and how they influence and are influenced by gender, economics, and society (critic and patron). They describe the historical contexts, including critical approaches and the pursuit of the avant-garde among American craftspeople, cultural systems that inform power and move beyond the binary in terms of debate and dialog, affectivity and entropy within production aesthetics in contemporary structure, and theoretical frames, such as how one "reads" the language of objects, feminism and knowledge within craft, subjectivity, workmanship, and evolutionary biology and its implications for craft.
Reference and Research Book News, August 2006