Case Number 21845: Small Claims Court


PBS // 2007 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 23rd, 2011

The Charge

Explore how artists go beyond skill to personal and political expression.

The Case

From PBS comes Craft in America: Messages, the latest installment in its series of one-hour looks at American craftspeople. Episodes examine a selection of artisans, their particular craft and what drives them to generate their art.

Four talented folks spotlighted here:

Beth Lipman: a glass artist from Wisconsin who gets down and dirty with flames and melting and sculpting. She bases her art in the style of the 17th century.

Charles M. Carrillo: hailing from New Mexico, Carrillo has mastered the craft of assembling "authentic materials" (i.e., debris) into creations reflective of religious sensibilities.

Joyce J. Scott: from Baltimore, Scott is a bead artist who utilizes her craft to speak out against racism and prejudices and hate crimes and all other manner of light-hearted subject matter.

Thomas Mann: a sculptor from New Orleans who's focused his art on the aftermath and effects of Hurricane Katrina. He developed a series called "Storm Cycle" telling these stories.

After watching this nifty documentary I have to say: I'm still not entirely sure what the difference is between a "craftsperson" and an "artist." They're probably the same, right, as I'm sure anyone noted in this program wold certainly deem their output as art. Sure it might be a quilt or a bead necklace or a mountain of refuse, but there is an artistic thrust behind their efforts. Especially the four folks given the VIP treatment in Messages. Strong sentiments fuel their creativity.

In fact, I'd argue the basis for their artistic expression -- the energy that motivates them to do what they do -- is more compelling than the finished crafts themselves. Whether it's race relations, comparative religion study, or the impact that a mega-storm can have on a community, something has kindled a fire in the guts of these artists and it's interesting to hear them articulate their creative journey, even for someone like me who has little to no interest in craft in America.

The DVD: 60 minutes, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, no extras.

The Verdict

Not Quilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English (SDH)

Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb