Hurricane inspires Douglaston potter

Douglaston artist Andrew Buck (r.) is preparing to deliver a talk on the importance of craft next week. Photo courtesy Andrew Buck
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Hurricane Sandy changed a lot for the residents of Queens. From downed trees and power lines to destroyed homes, the importance and appreciation of craft has become more relevant than ever, according to one Douglaston man.

Ceramic artist and scholar Andrew Buck has lived in Douglaston for more than a decade and said he has since developed a particular interest in issues of craft and art from a historical perspective.

Next week, Buck will deliver a talk on the importance of craft at 2 p.m. in the School of Visual Arts’ Critical Information Conference 2012 at 209 East 23 St. in Manhattan, where art historian Claire Bishop has been slated as the keynote speaker.

“One thing the dot-com bubble burst taught us was the importance of bricks and mortar — that our economy is built on manufacturing concrete things as well as the service economy,” Buck said. “Hurricane Sandy, with all of its devastation, reminded us too of the importance of our material world — our homes, trees, cars and especially gasoline and electricity.”

But the silver lining in the devastation, Buck said, brings perspective on how humans have lived since the medieval days. According to the potter, many of our daily rituals as human beings have remained constant through the last several hundred years all because of our reliance on craftsmanship and artistry.

“Historical distinctions and tensions have evolved since the medieval times between ideas of art and craft as well as ideas of artists and crafts people,” Buck said. “Since art and craft are both fluid ideas, we may be in a time where art rejoins craft in the realm of social practice.”

At the conference scheduled for Dec. 2, graduate students from around the world will touch on contemporary issues in the arts, the School of Visual Arts said.

Buck practices ceramic art and has served as chairman of the National Art Education Association Annual Convention and as co-chair for the University Council for Art Education’s Symposium for Art Education Leadership.

In his presentation, Buck said he would use the most recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy as an example to illustrate how important handmade items have become and how under-appreciated they might be in the Internet age. The Douglaston potter said that by bridging the gap between art and craft, there could be new opportunities to change the way others perceive and appreciate the work that can be accomplished by hand despite the abundance of computer technology.

“If art is thought of as more than just pictures on the wall, or just for the few, and craft is thought of as more than handmade objects, then artists and craft-makers can play multiple roles in today’s society,” Buck said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-457

Updated 1:21 am, November 29, 2012
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Reader feedback

Lizzy &Astor Martin from Queens, NY says:
Congratulations Andy, We are so happy you finally did it,see you soon.
Nov. 29, 2012, 2:10 pm
O. Woodbine from Brooklyn says:
Continue to do what you love while inspiring others. All the best.
Nov. 30, 2012, 10:50 am
Freddy Rodriguez from Flushing says:
Before conceptual art, art and craft complemented each other. Art without craft is something I don't care much about. Keep it going Andy.
Dec. 18, 2012, 2:57 pm

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