The word ‘craft’ is generally used when defining a ‘skill’ or ‘expertise’. By that definition, fine art that demonstrates skill and expertise in its creation could be considered a craft but it remains fine art while the creator is considered a craftsman. Why then is it so difficult for one to consider craft as fine art? Jacqueline Sandro and Judith Rosenthal are two artists using materials traditionally associated with ceramic craft, yet their work transcends boundaries previously assigned to fine arts and craft designations.
Craft refers to an object that is created with the primary motive of decoration and/or function. Fine art refers to an object that requires creativity to produce and its primary motive is to communicate an idea. The inherent lack of objectivity in interpreting art may play a role but the most significant factor in differentiating fine art and craft is the intention of the artist and the emotional response of the viewer. Take for instance Judith Rosenthal's "Tree Bowl" (right). This exquisite piece was created with paper porcelain. While the function is recognizable, the allegorical presentation of the individual forms combine to create a bowl that holds value beyond its original function.
Judith's continues her use of the paper porcelain in her most recent work, "Sprig" (above) combining it with different clays, colors and textures to create an image where functionality and decoration is no longer as important as the artistic rendering and the poetry of composition.
Jacqueline Sandro is an expert ceramicist with 25 years of experience to her credit. She has an innate ability to stretch the tools of the trade beyond traditional applications employing the use of paint, stains and reclaimed objects in the compositions of her work. In Jacqueline's "Basket Bride" (left) she creates a sculptural image of a figure with references to traditional craft. Using slabs of clay, Jacqueline creates an image with steps that ascend to a portrait of a basket. The functional object is non-existent except in the narrative of the piece. The artist uses a similar progression directing the viewer across the surface of "Male Torso with Bottle Head" (below) and "Adventures of Clums-Ox" as each object is sculpted, painted and etched with the memories of the artist creating an interesting and thought-provoking story.
Both artists draw inspiration from the organic nature of their material and respect the craftsmanship necessary to realize their work. Through a mastery of their craft, they are empowered to push boundaries and expertly bridge the world of fine art and craft.
You can see the works of Judith Rosenthal and Jacqueline Sandro at Stanek Gallery in "Bridges" through December 31st, 2016.