I'm going to stick with the above graphic one more time, as it is still be relevant for this post.
There was a time when I did not understand the difference between art and decoration. I chose art that I liked and that I thought worked well with the decor. Whether a vase or a wall item, it was all art to me—all decoration.
My first few years exploring mosaic yielded simply mosaics, not art. I did not think of making art—how could I when I did not even know what it was?
Two of my decorative mosaics were accepted to the first MAI to which I submitted (the vase on the left above was one of them; chest at right the other). At that time, I thought: well then, they must be art. I remember that at the exhibition, a woman was admiring the chest and asked me what was my inspiration. I answered honestly that I just wanted to make something beautiful. It was not long after that that I began to grasp how and why art is different.
The evolution of mosaic as a fine art has been confusing to both individual mosaicists and the mosaic community at large, I think, never mind the broader art world. The speed with which it arrived is rather astounding, which will inevitably lead to such confusion. We, as the mosaic community, seem to be at once fighting to reach that fine art pinnacle, while at the same time being very conflicted about what mosaic fine art actually is.
Well, as I said previously, I don't want to get into trying to define what mosaic fine art is. I think I can, however, whittle away at what I think it is not. For those who are trying to understand a distinction, such an exercise may be useful.