The article Sewing Notion author Julia Bryan Wilson often presents several interesting ideas without fully flushing them out, one can tell that she was constricted by the space given to her. There are two desperate conversations going on at the same time. One about the inclusion of handicrafts into the formal institutionalize world of “legitimate” art. And the other about the political, economic, and moral implications of hand made goods produced by poorer nations to encourage our over-consumption. These probably should have been split into two separate articles. The response will treat her article as if there had been to separate ones.
Firstly: can handicrafts be considered art? The argument against such considerations would be one from the standpoint of those who consider art purely on its artistic merits and no other. While handicrafts were made to be used and with a use in mind. My counter argument to that is “China” or fine ceramic pieces that has long been considered art by many. The artistic value of these pieces comes from the exemplary attention to detail by the craftsperson. But ultimately they still intended for the pieces to have a usage. There will never be a distinct line about what one may consider art and what one does not. Maybe such line exists within the Museum culture. But I do not think it exist within the minds of everyday lay people.
Secondly, the article deals with the global, economic, and ethical implications of buying foreign goods that cause their makers harm in the process ultimately. Bryan-Wilson brings up the plight of the women working in the Mexican maquiladoras. Of course, this isn’t the only example that comes to mind, there has been recent revelations about working conditions in China at the Foxconn plant, where Apple products are produced. Worker deaths have been attributed to suicides and exhaustion due to hard shifts. I think it is good to bring attention to such tragedies but to do so without a concrete alternative is to speak without thought.