The American craft tradition didn’t just appear one day, fully-formed and mature. Whatever their materials – no matter how “cutting edge” – every artist can trace her or his work to craft techniques that had their beginnings hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. When they are manifested and revealed to us they’re sometimes easy to see. Sometimes they require us to make the effort. But each artist is involved in taking and passing these techniques to others in a continuum of creativity.
Since the beginning of recorded time, human beings have made objects. Most, such as tools, cooking utensils, blankets and clothing, served a simple, utilitarian function. If they performed well, appearance was unimportant. But even here, we see glimpses of artistry, when the makers wanted – needed – to put a personal imprint on the objects they made.
Consider the simplest of tools – a hand axe. And let’s consider it even further, as a tool that takes abuse in its everyday usage, chopping wood, cutting up prey, and all-around whacking – when it was multi-functional, the Swiss Army knife of its day. If that’s all it was, then we’d have little interest in it as anything other than an example of form and function working, if you will, hand-in-hand.