In Transition

In Transition


Beth Lipman, Combine Number 1, 2006, C print, 34 x 58 x 1 in.

Rendering change in art, nature and life through engagement with craft.

As we wrap up this issue, winter has given way to spring. New York City and its environs were inundated with rain and snow over the past several months, but we are finally feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces and seeing the trees blossoming. The city has become a happier place.

Transformation tends to do this.Whether it is a feeling of accomplishment, an end to a long journey, or an answer to a perplexing question being revealed, transformation can bring a solid sense of comfort. Change is not always simple or direct, but the idea that it can be good should resonate with those of us observing the craft world. We've tried to address some of the ways people and things evolve through intense engagement with craft.

Meribah Knight ventured into a Missouri penitentiary to bear witness to the transformational power of quilt making on a group of incarcerated men who have committed serious and violent crimes. As she observes, the communal act of piecing the quilt blocks together ultimately for charitable purposes and in a spirit of camaraderie has become a key to repairing the damage past violence has done to themselves and to society ("Breaking Patterns," page 56).

An "earthier," as it were, growth project was recently undertaken by Lonny van Ryswyck and Nadine Sterk, who operate a design studio in the Netherlands. Their goal, as writer Deborah Bishop explains it, was to collect dirt from the farmlands of the Northeast Polder and create tableware for specific foods made from the clay found in the soil where these crops are grown-in other words, to discover links between harvest, earth and clay. Their finished pieces, or Polderceramics, have been captured in photographs that intentionally allude to the lighting and mood of 17th-century Dutch paintings ("Drawn from Clay," page 46).

The paintings of this era were also the inspiration for the astonishing glass installations of the Wisconsin artist Beth Lipman. Though the source for the imagery is still life, there's nothing remotely "still" about these exuberant tableaux rendered in clear glass that transform the original subject matter into what writer Jody Clowes suggests is a critique of the obsessive materialism of our consumer culture even as it celebrates the allure of luxury objects
("Beth Lipman: Banquet Years," page 36).

A spirit of evolution also seems apropos, in an eerie way, to the porcelain, leather and mixed-media animal sculptures of Adelaide Paul. Starting with a taxidermist's mannequin and a sound knowledge of animal anatomy, Paul then develops the figures through color and unsettling details-such as mutilation-into fantastical creatures that comment on the human commodification of animals (Reviewed, page 32).

Much to think about, we hope, as spring transforms into summer.