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Starr, Ellen Gates. Art and Labour
2010, In The Craft Reader, Glenn Adamson (ed.). Berg Publishers
Added by: Quentin Pharr and Clotilde Torregrossa
Abstract:
From the canonical texts of the Arts and Crafts Movement to the radical thinking of today's “DIY” movement, from theoretical writings on the position of craft in distinction to Art and Design to how-to texts from renowned practitioners, from feminist histories of textiles to descriptions of the innovation born of necessity in Soviet factories and African auto-repair shops, The Craft Reader presents the first comprehensive anthology of writings on modern craft. Covering the period from the Industrial Revolution to today, the Reader draws on craft practice and theory from America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The world of craft is considered in its full breadth -- from pottery and weaving, to couture and chocolate-making, to contemporary art, architecture and curation. The writings are themed into sections and all extracts are individually introduced, placing each in its historical, cultural and artistic context. Bringing together an astonishing range of both classic and contemporary texts, The Craft Reader will be invaluable to any student or practitioner of Craft and also to readers in Art and Design.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Starr highlights in this selection that art and the entirety of humanity go hand-in-hand. Firstly, she notes that art (at least, the best art) has always been, in great part, an expression of humanity's "common life" and not just an expression of its elite's interests. But, secondly and more importantly, she also argues that humans, regardless of their social status or class, cannot live without beauty in their lives. Striving for art has always been essential to joy in humanity's productive capacities, and those products have always been essential to the retention of humanity's hope in itself through our consumption of it. This selection, in conjunction with Du Bois's, makes salient that, although things are often produced by many of us without art in mind and art is often consumed by relatively few of us, such a state of affairs is ultimately not amenable to producing good societies and happy peoples. Art, as she claims, can and must be by all for all, regardless of social status or class.

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