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Sculptors are Artists Too

Michael Binkley standing in his Gallery

One of the visitors to the gallery made a comment during my recent 30th Anniversary Studio Show that I just had to address. She was referring to my collection of figure drawings on the gallery walls and said, “I know of your beautiful sculptures, Michael but I didn’t know you were such a good artist as well.”

I gently intoned that sculpture is art, and that sculptors are artists too. Her confusion of terms is a common one in North America. Unfortunately, as two-dimensional art is so dominant in the psyche of the general public, the term “artist” has replaced the word painter in contemporary nomenclature.

But the vocation of painting is not the sole realm of an “artist”. Sculptors, photographers, actors, writers, musicians, and dancers are all artists. We are equal creators of the aesthetic experience, and appreciate when our efforts are recognized as artists.

Up until the end of the 19th Century, the vocation of the fine artist had been discerned as either a painter or a sculptor.  The 20th Century saw an acceleration of attention to two dimensional art, especially in North America. Public and commercial art galleries have promoted two dimensional work to the point where the general public is associating the word “artist” solely with one who creates in two dimensions.

I understood that the visitor was complimenting me, but it could easily be misconstrued as an insult. I simply can’t resist a gentle nudge to correct and hopefully educate those who negate sculptors as artists. It is most frustrating to we sculptors!