Monday, March 15, 2010

Art... or Craft?

Artists often get into a discussion as to where the line is between art and crafts. This thought occurred to me as I looked at the papel picado (Spanish for "perforated" or "punched" paper) of Carmen Lomas Garza.

Lomas Garza is, by her definition, a Chicana artist. Born in Texas, she paints scenes of Mexican-Americans' everyday lives and special occasions. She made her decision to become an artist when she was 13. Over time, she has taught art, written books, and had countless exhibitions. Her qualifications as a painter are indisputable. She also makes papel picados.

If you've ever been to a Mexican-themed party or tavern, you may have noticed paper banners with cutouts on them. There is a very long folk tradition dating back to the Aztecs in making paper banners for religious celebrations.

Nowadays, the painstaking process involved in handmaking has been largely replaced by manufacturing. Lomas Garza is one of the artists who is keeping the finest examples of this ancient tradition alive.

As you look at the complexity of her papel picado keeping in mind that this is considered to be part of folk tradition, what do you think? Is it an ancient craft or is it an art?


  1. Wow! That's a tough question. It seems more like craft but at the level of this artist it seems more of an art... or maybe it's a craft at artisan quality. Interesting. Shel

  2. There is a fine line between craft and art, but I have to lean toward the art. Just look at some of the ancient pottery and baskets that are decorated so beautifully. The makers of utilitarian objects added purely ornamental features for the senses, not to make them more useful. I imagine the artists in the community were admired for their artistic skills. Sally

  3. Of course it's art! Connie

  4. These are beautiful. They look cut out not punched or perforated. It is definetly both an art and a craft. The designs are artful and the execution is a fine craft.
    Thanks for sharing this special art/craft artist with us.