Is it Art or Craft?

That perennial question: What is the difference between art and craft?

Handwoven rugs from Mexico

Are rugs art?

Is a rug art or is it craft? If a vase is art, can a teapot also be art? How about a basket?  We did a little research on the differences between art and craft. Here’s what we found:

Handwoven rugs from Mexico

Alicia Vasquez’s family has been weaving for generations. Lately they’ve been incorporating designs influenced by the likes of M.C. Escher and Picasso into their rugs. Art or Craft? Photography by Marcela Taboada for Project Bly.

Craft is something that can be taught” argues Turner Prize winning artist, Grayson Perry. Art on the other hand, comes from “the inspired individual.”  Monica Moses, Editor-in-Chief of the American Craft Council points out that “craft has a legacy of functionality” and that “mastery of material” is an important aspect of craft.

Vintage brass from Mumbai

Craft has a legacy of functionality, but if a vase is art, can a teapot be art? Photography by Jessica Comingore for Project Bly.

Art historian, Laura Morelli, in this Ted-Ed Video looks at the history of art and craft. One of the primary distinctions in Western culture is that art is defined by a spirit of innovation and individual creativity. Craft on the other hand was defined by collective production.

Ceremonial West African Masks

Ritual and ceremonial masks from West Africa. Photography by Jessica Comingore for Project Bly.

Morelli argues, however, that it’s time to dispense with words and distinctions like art and craft. A basket, mask or rug might be art in one culture, but craft in another, and since the appreciation of an object, she says, is so conditioned by our history and culture, art is truly in the eye of the beholder.

So in the end, it might not matter at all. Our opinion, get crafty with your art. Hang a rug on a wall, or maybe even a vintage coat!

Mid century silk coat from Uzbekistan

A vintage silk coat from Bukhara, Uzbekistan makes for amazing wall art. Photography by Jessica Comingore for Project Bly.

Shop Project Bly

1. Handwoven rugs from Oaxaca, Mexico | 2. Hand carved masks from Kumasi, Ghana | 3. Vintage brass teapot from Mumbai, India

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