Crafts, the high arts and education
By: Donald Paul Tompkins
Published: 1972
Uploaded: 10/19/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Handicraft, Jewelry

Donald Paul Tompkins
The problem with which this paper (and accompanying exhibit of jewelry), deals is the changing relationship between the so-called ˘high arts÷ and the crafts since World War II. It covers the following subjects. First, it examines possible influences on the status of contemporary crafts. Thus, certain institutions, events, and personalities operating before World War II are cited, documented and evaluated. Second, painting and sculptureĂs relationship with the crafts are discussed. The work of Abstract Expressionist ceramists, personified by Peter Voulkos, are quoted as setting the precedent later followed by other craftsmen in launching the crafts into a new expressive realm. Third, those influences which seem pertinent in a direct way following the war (institutional, cultural and societal forces and certain important personalities in art, the crafts and education) are suggested, with the writerĂs opinion of their relative importance. Fourth, the historical changes in several crafts are reviewed, identifying craftsmen who have contributed to the changes. Fifth, in support of the stance purported in the paper, an exhibition of jewelry by this writer, documented by photographs are included. Finally, an examination of the current status of the crafts and the implications for the craftsman and crafts educator particularly on the college level are offered. Some of the questions regarding this last point which are considered include: Is the person who calls himself ˘craftsman÷ today concerned more with expressiveness than function? Is he against the (sometimes) ˘imperfect÷ anonymity of mass production? Is he more interested in the opportunity for personal decision and expression than economic considerations? Even though he may be casting aside the values and at times the techniques and materials of his forebears, does he still retain his identity as craftsman (while invading a realm traditionally belonging to the high arts of painting and sculpture)? These points are argued affirmatively.

Sponsor: William Mahoney
Dissertation Committee: Maxine Greene
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University