Is cross stitch art? Or craft?

Often within the stitching community the question of art or craft comes up, and on a general basis it can be answered. However cross stitch always sits outside the classifications, and no one is really sure. Its not an art form in its own right, its part of embroidery, however there are LOADS of art pieces out there with just cross stitch. So does it deserve to finally be called an art form?

cross-stitch-mona-lisa

Mastering the art form

I wrote a post a few months back now on becoming a cross stitch master and how achievable that actually is, however I never addressed the elephant in the room; a master OF WHAT?

The reason there are so many issues here are down to the definition of art form. In short it could be “a medium for artistic expression”, “an activity that requires skill and care” or “the more or less established structure, pattern, or scheme followed in shaping an artistic work”, all of which cross stitch applies to. But its STILL not classed as an art form in its own right. So why?

I recently posted a link to someone who had used my cross stitch as a base for his own art work, so surely the original must be art too?

Museums

The greatest case therefore would be galleries and museums, both of which have a historic inclusion of cross stitch. Some of the best known are the V&A in London, the Met Museum in New York, and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. However most of these are old samplers, and almost none are from modern times.

Modern Renaissance

However there are a few exeptions. What I like to call the “modern renaissance” where art is in the hands of everyone, there are a few notable examples:

WWII cross stitch

We’ve shown this piece before in a history of cross stitch, however the works of Major Alexis Casdagli in the second world war are not only a fascinating story in their own right, but his most widely known work (seen below) has traveled all over the world in modern exhibitions.
sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli

Severija

The only truly well known cross stitch artist is Severija who uses cross stitch with historic objects to truly create a memorable set of works. We even devoted a whole post to creating works like hers.

cross-stitch-helmets-by-severija

Summary

So does any of that suggest an answer? Well, yes. But mostly in the craft camp.
Whilst there is cross stitch art out there, most of the works being produced are being done for just a beautiful image. To truly be classed as art in a modern form, it needs to have a message, like Severija’s works. So as much as I hate it, I’ve got to admit I’m not an artist.