Art vs. Craft

By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Baskets of bamboo or coarse palm fiber by Rashidi Gihimbwa, Zaramo artist, Tanzania. Photo by Diane Pelrine.


All of our lives are filled with objects, the things that we use everyday and rely upon—the chairs we sit on, the utensils we eat with, the fabrics we wear, and the tools use. Rarely, however, do we consider these objects from an aesthetic point of view; they are classified as "crafts" rather than as "art." The separation of "art" from "craft" is a construction that has its origins in the West, where art is cleanly separated from the realm of the functional. The art/craft distinction does not reflect an inherent difference between objects in these two categories, nor does it indicate the existence of similar distinctions between "utilitarian" and "aesthetic" objects in non-Western societies.