Is Beaded Jewelry Art? If The Critics Say It’s Not … What Does That Say About Me?

Warren Feld
10 min readJul 23, 2022

The other day, I looked up some quotes that Art Critics and Art Theorists have had to say about beaded jewelry and jewelry artists. What do you think?


“Anything done with beads is not art.”

Here the art critic equates “beads/beadwork” with the canvas of a painting, and not the painting itself. To the critic, beads are merely decoration. In this point of view, it is impossible to use beads in any way so that the finished project would be seen as art.


“Beading speaks for that branch of culture which is too homey, too functional, too archaic, for the name of ‘art’ to extend to it.”

To this reviewer, art is associated with clarity of choice and purpose, a sense of presence, and the evoking of an emotional response (or unleashing psychological content). To this reviewer, these kinds of things are not associated with beadwork and jewelry. In fact, to this reviewer, they can never be. Thus, beadwork and jewelry are not “art.”


“Beading as Art Brut — The work of children, asylum patients, and others untouched by artistic culture.”

My local paper in Nashville — The Tennessean — refuses to cover anything that is not fine art in their art pages. Many galleries and museums refuse to display bead art, often justifying this by saying there is no audience for bead art.


“Objects may only be valued as ‘art’ if they have a link to the academic setting.”

Many galleries and art critics only recognize the art of those artists with formal credentials. The reputation of the schooling of the artist is directly related to the judged “artistic” value of their work. However, there really are very few academic programs in beading/jewelry making. These are mostly involved with technical training, rather than theory and investigation. There are no professional journals where ideas and theories are proposed, discussed, tested and proven. In this model, beaders/jewelry makers stand little chance of getting judged as true artists.


Warren Feld

Beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures, from custom work, production work, and teaching. *Design is about the ability to make smart choices.