It is a relief to have to keeping working on the loom without thinking about the whole art thing. In preparing for the market, I've been working at this end of the spectrum; I've been making predictable scarves, and tomorrow I'm going to put on a dish/tea towel warp in Swedish cottolin. In New Zealand, we call these "bread and butter" and most weavers have her/his own b&b.
Of course, the most functional, unpretentious of styles, like the Shaker, can also be art; in fact, that's an enviable place to be, continuing to create functional, repeatable pieces which are deemed "art" by others.
Being a member of an organization like Nelson Arts Marketing and/or participating in multi-disciplinary exhibits, one gets lumped into the category "artists", as opposed to "administrators", "educators", "gallerists", etc, so the word "artist" doesn't carry the esteem/stigma; in this context, I am an artist. But it does push me to aim beyond "craft" when I see my pieces exhibited by professional curators; would you call this reverse (or perverse) psychology?
Peg cedes judging what is gallery-worthy; it's practical, it probably reflects her personality, and most importantly to me, how handweaving is perceived where she lives. I feel more urgency about weaving in galleries in Nelson or New Zealand, and it has to do with how all non-tapestry-weaving is lumped together here verses what's happening at the "cake" end of weaving.
Nelson Polytechnic had a weaving school in the 80's, which was apparently well-known nationwide. So Nelsonians are familiar with and kind to weaving, but as weaving was in the 80's. I'm not claiming I weave at the "cake" end, but as Lloyd advised, it is the responsibility of the weavers to try to elevate the status of weaving as craft/art, (at least those weavers who wish to do so), and as some ceramic artists and jewelry makers have done successfully over the last two decades. Dare I say, the onus is on us to educate the public. This is what has motivated me to not turn down an opportunity to show, and it includes chances like Twilight Market. And I wish true "cake" weavers exhibited more in New Zealand.
This is my view of one of the extrinsic value of weaving in galleries, and it's the easy part.
The hard part is what I see as intrinsic artistic merit in handweaving. It relates to where I see myself on the weaver/craftsperson/artesan/artist continuum. Peg has a good definition, one which most people involved in this business would agree, but I need a bit more for myself to steer me in the direction I want to go, the direction I can't see yet. I worry about the "if you don't know where you're going, you probably won't get there" thing, and I wonder if this is because I have many art educator friends.
That's all I've got this morning.
For some weavers, this is a sensitive subject, I know. Some take umbrage in being called an artist, many by non-tapestry weavers who call themselves artists, and still others are sensitive not to offend others by calling themselves artists. I'm starting to think I'll may never know what this all means, because I change, and annoyingly, fashion changes. Still, it's nice to hear/read what others think.