Shows to See: October/November 2012

Shows to See: October/November 2012

Published on Monday, September 17, 2012. This article appears in the October/November 2012 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
13th-century Iranian bowl at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

13th-century Iranian bowl at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo: Courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art

CA / San Francisco
Museum of Craft and Folk Art
Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers
Part 1 to Oct. 6
Part 2 Oct. 13 – Dec. 29
In this traveling juried show, traditional materials such as silk and hemp, as well as modern synthetics, are turned into luscious works of art by forward-thinking Japanese artists combining age-old techniques and current industrial textile technology. The exhibition is divided into two parts for a showing at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, organized in collaboration with the Japan Society, the International Textile Network Japan, and Tokyo’s Tama University Art Museum.

IL / Chicago
Navy Pier
Sculpture Objects & Functional Art + Design (SOFA)
Nov. 1 – 4
The 19th annual SOFA Chicago show is the place to see high-end craft from galleries and dealers from around the globe. It’s one of the best opportunities to get an up-close look at works by masters and emerging artists alike.

NV / Reno
Nevada Museum of Art
Bovey Lee: Undercurrents
to Jan. 2
Lee’s impossibly intricate hand-cut rice paper creations appear to float on the wall. Her fantastical narratives – developed by combining drawings and found images into a computerized collage that serves as a template – are created using only an X-Acto knife and cutting mat.

IN / Indianapolis
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture
Nov. 2 – Jan. 13
Islamic culture has a long tradition in the decorative arts, combining influences from Western Europe to Eastern Asia and everywhere in between. This exhibition explores Islamic heritage and beliefs through meticulously crafted objects, including metalwork, ceramics, woodcarvings, carpets, and textiles, some dating back to the 13th century.

TX / Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Scandinavian Design
to Jan. 27
The clean lines of Scandinavian design informed modernism and influenced many craft artists in the United States and abroad during its midcentury heyday. This exhibition showcases furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, and lighting from the 1920s to the 1970s that exemplify the “good design for all” aesthetic.

NY / New York
Museum of Arts and Design
The Art of Scent, 1889–2012
Nov. 13 – Jan. 27
The first museum exhibition dedicated to perfume design and evolution features 12 fragrances that date from 1889 (when synthetic elements were introduced) to the present. Scents can be experienced individually through an installation created by design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and a boxed catalogue featuring bottled samples of selected works from the exhibition will be available. The show is organized by Chandler Burr, MAD’s curator of olfactory art.

TN / Gatlinburg
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Utilitarian Clay VI: Celebrate the Object
to Oct. 27
This exhibition is a highlight of Arrowmont’s quadrennial clay symposium, held this past September. Five pieces each from 17 symposium presenters, including Nicholas Bivins, Deborah Schwartzkopf, and Gwendolyn Yoppolo, are on display. A separate exhibition shows work by mentors whom the presenters invited, including Mark Pharis, Linda Arbuckle, and Chris Staley.

PA / Doylestown
James A. Michener Art Museum
Suspended Harmonies: Fiber Art by Ted Hallman
Nov. 3 – Mar. 3
Hallman’s ever-evolving fiber art is featured in a solo exhibition. Freestanding sculptures created from acrylic yarn, wool, and rayon hung on steel armatures will be on display, along with two-dimensional wall pieces, showcasing his work on scales both large and small.

PA / Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Convention Center
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
Nov. 8 – 11
This high-profile event is an annual fundraiser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In its 36th year, the show features 195 artists culled from a pool of more than 1,300 by a jury of fiber artist Lewis Knauss (see page 60), MAD curator David Revere McFadden, author Marthe Le Van, potter Alleghany Meadows, and Ruth Snyderman, co-owner of Snyderman-Works Galleries.

WA / Tacoma
Museum of Glass
Maestro: Recent Works by Lino Tagliapietra
to Jan. 6
Tagliapietra started working with glass at age 11 in his native Murano, Italy. Now in his late 70s, he combines centuries-old Muranese techniques with those of the modern American art glass movement. This exhibition of 65 pieces from the
past 10 years demonstrates the breadth and mastery of the artist often called the greatest living glassblower.

View the complete shows and events calendar at


WA / Bellevue
Bellevue Arts Museum
BAM Biennial 2012: High Fiber Diet
Oct. 25 – Feb. 24

More than 40 fiber artists made new work for the Bellevue Arts Museum’s second biennial exhibition, which begins in late October. We caught up with Stefano Catalani, BAM director of curatorial affairs/artistic director, about how the show came together and what he hopes people glean from it.

This is the second of the museum’s biennials; the inaugural 2010 exhibition featured works in clay. How did you choose fiber as the medium for this show?
We wanted to choose mediums that were strong in the Northwest, mediums that had a long-standing tradition and at the same time were being used by emerging artists. Fiber in particular is so versatile, so rich with tradition but also with potential.

Because the fiber category is so broad, did you find it hard to choose artists and works to feature in the exhibition?
I like to work with artists; I don’t like to work with art. So when we drafted the first biennial, we realized we wanted to ask the artists to create a new body of work, if possible. We left the definition of fiber pretty open. We wanted to make it clear that either traditional materials or traditional processes would fit into the show. But at the same time, we wanted the fiber element to be integral.

The museum describes fiber as “one of the most thriving yet underexposed media in contemporary art.” Why do you think it is underexposed?
I go to maker art fairs, and fiber is popping up everywhere, whether it’s traditional fiber materials or using the process in a new way. On the other hand, I go to SOFA [Sculpture Objects & Functional Art + Design shows] and what I see is compartmentalization; fiber arts don’t get the same kind of exposure in the fine craft world.

What do you hope people take away from this show?
Richness. Wonderment. Curiosity. A desire to create. I’m hoping people will see that fiber offers different perspectives, that it’s a very versatile medium. I hope that in 10 or 15 years someone will look back at these biennials and use them as a reference to see how things have changed and in what direction we have moved. 

Brittany Kallman Arneson is a writer in St. Paul, Minnesota.