Vol 5 No 2 (2014)

The Embodied Art of Craft

Rachelle M Chinnery
Bud Vases in Process
Published October 5, 2014


One unusual trait of many craft artists is that they will speak of the medium as having chosen them instead of the other way around. Clay, for example, chose me. I am a ceramist committed to working with the vessel as a primary means of expression. Clay chose me through a Japanese tea cup. The rough foot on my fingertips and its undulating and unrefined lip felt very different from the manufactured cup I had used most of my life. The cup spoke to me; it seemed sentient, and I don’t mean this metaphorically. An exchange was at play between my senses and the object in my hand. The cup drew my attention aesthetically, sensually, perceptually, and intellectually. It illustrated the fundamental difference between craft and what we’ve come to know as fine art in the West: craft is art for the feeling body, whereas art is for the perceiving mind. The art form of craft is where these attributes unite into embodied art—a concept spurned in the West, a casualty of our Cartesian culture.