1)A craft object has a functional purpose.
2) Art does not need a function other than being the expression of the artist.
3) Craft can be very well made but still not be considered an art object.
4) Art work can be within the limits of a tradition while utilizing expressive variations. Originality is a tall order for Aracapana which has been made maybe a million times. These were my ideas when I wrote a paper for Survey of Visual Arts.
I would like to revise the criteria for art based on my further involvement in our family heirloom. Art is partly in the process of the maker to add originality to a traditional object. It is also partly the process of the people who experience owning it. In the case of our Aracapana statue, it nolonger functioned as a religious icon for Buddhists, it was a found educational toy for my ancestors and myself. The body language of the raised arm and the angle of the wrist took on a slightly different meaning when the sword and other ornaments were removed. The features of the face looked similar to some of the Widler children. So can a doll be an art object?
Fall 1959 I had an art assignment inwhich I was supposed to draw some object from my home. The art teacher thought I had no right to draw something from another culture. But I felt very familiar with the small statue of Aracapana. I had played with it and felt it represented my connection to China where my father lived as a child.
This page from an album was begun in the 50’s. Grandfather Emile Widler gave me one of the albums he had made for The United States service men stationed in Tingtoa after World War II. He gave the servicemen cameras and photo albums to be both educating and entertaining. Grandfather said I could put anything I wanted to in the Album. One of the first things I put in the album are stamps like these on Egyptian art. During the Persian Gulf War, I added a transparent page with a reproduction of Aracapana. It is the with page folded back at the left.
I painted Aracapana as a teacher and scholar during the 1990's.
Art inspires new connections and more confidence in the people who experience it.