Baltimore Show Invitational Artists
Baltimore Show Invitational Artists
This year for the first time, the American Craft Council partnered with media associations to create an invitational pathway to the ACC shows in 2012. Each organization picked a few exceptional artists to bring their unique perspective and work to the show and add to an already exciting collection of work that will be on display. Here we profile the artists invited to our American Craft Council Show in Baltimore and give you a special preview of their work.
It was fortuitous for Raissa Bump to have been invited by the Society of North American Goldsmiths at precisely the moment that she was ready. “For the past three years I have been full-time in the studio. Being invited to this show is a welcomed acknowledgement of the hard work that I have done thus far,” she says. Her previous work included intriguingly assembled jewelry constructed with a diversity of techniques and materials, blurring the line between metal and fiber. Her skill in fiber is as visible in her knit work as in her metal work. As she puts it, “The thread throughout my process and my work is quite literally a thread. Sewn, stitched, embossed or twisted, the line, the pattern created, and the texture made to catch the light all interact in subtle ways.” Bump has the luxury of following her muse in whatever direction she feels inspired to: “Having multiple collections allows for my creativity to be tapped into on a daily basis. I can make one-of-a-kind pieces or a piece that can easily be made again. I can saw or hammer or sew—whatever best motivates me on a given day.” View more of Raissa Bump’s metal and fiber work.
Maria Eife was very excited to receive an invitation to show from the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Eife’s most recent work includes laser-cut felt necklaces, that while looking on the surface like a visually pleasing combination of lines and circles, actually represent the ones and zeros of binary code, the language of computer programming. In one piece the numbers spell out the word “What?”, which the artist says is “a statement on digital communication.” Even without a second meaning, these wearable artworks are eye-popping in their bold color and sleek design. The artist says, “My work explores the story as ornament”, and this approach is evident in her many projects. Each new series comes from a complete, unique idea: from split heart jewelry that is more complicated than “true/love” or “best/friends” (one heart is split to say “see/ing oth/er peo/ple”) to an entire eulogy strung out in letter beads, her ideas are stories within themselves. View more of Maria Eife’s wearable artworks.
Ruth Reifen, who was selected to present by the Society of North American Goldsmiths, creates jewelry that combines precious metal and porcelain in a way that makes both mediums seem spectacular and new. Organic crustacean growths in her jewelry are created from white and black porcelain and inset in simple gold forms that allow each material to highlight the beauty of the other. Graduating with her MFA in jewelry-design in metal from RISD less than a year ago, the Israeli-born artist is as excited to be visiting Baltimore for the first time to present new work from her latest collection. Reifen is looking forward to getting immediate feedback at the show, and has hopes that the new, “more theatrical looking work” will delight her audience in Baltimore. She described one particularly intriguing piece: “A pendant that started with a carved shell-shape that I added small carved elements that seem like barnacles growing on the shell surface and set with Swarovski crystals. It is hollow to hint that maybe there is a precious pearl treasure in it but this is a secret kept for the wearer.” See more of Ruth Reifen’s incredible jewelry.
Joomchi is an ancient Korean papermaking technique that is at the heart of the work of Jiyoung Chung, an artist invited by the Surface Design Association to show at Baltimore. The technique is an extremely labor intensive process similar to felting that takes hours of constant work to create, but results in a durable kind of paper that ages like leather and can last for thousands of years. Jiyoung’s colorful wall pieces are a meditation on broken relationships. About her Whisper-Romance series, she says “the series began as a result of a conversation I had with my father in Korea after reading a disturbing article in the newspaper. It was a story about a son killing his parents. My father said, ‘This has happened because the essential relationship has been broken.’” She represents these gaps in communication and fracturing of relationships with holes that appear in the durable paper, allowing for a dialogue between the layers. Though her work has a stark, meditative quality, she also uses exuberant colors; as she explains, “It is important to be reminded of how important and valuable each of our lives are—regardless of where or how we were raised or what position we find ourselves in now—to enjoy living life to the fullest.” Explore more of Jiyoung Chung’s paper work.
Maryland fiber artist Tamara Embrey, one of the artists invited by the Surface Design Association, transforms recycled thrift store finds into new, one-of-a-kind hats, scarves and dresses. Her clothes often have a rough, improvisational feel, prominently featuring exposed seams and loose threads, or as she puts it, “the structural ‘sews’ blend together with the ‘sews’ that are embellishments, creating an overall surface design that is integrated and visually exciting.” Her latest work questions the role of a hole in clothing—is it a flaw, or something that offers a second life? To give her (and John Waters) the last word: “I once heard John Waters, one of Baltimore’s most fabulous citizens, talking about this very idea. You take what you have, even if it’s flawed—especially if it’s flawed, and you turn it into the thing that makes you wonderful and unique. I think of what I’m doing as a similar thing; instead of being ashamed that your cashmere has holes, put more holes into it, emphasize those holes. Make them a feature. Relish them.” Check out her The Devil Made Me Do It clothing line.
It is difficult to talk about Jenne Giles without bringing up her rose blossom scarves and collars. Lush in color and crafted with the delicate touch of a real flower, these pieces are stunning. It would be a mistake, however, to only fixate on these pieces. Giles, invited to show in Baltimore by the Surface Design Association, has a painterly grace and an excellent sense for color. Giles also creates felt paintings, which are playful fields of color and shape that look as delightful as they would feel. Working in felt, Jenne becomes very close to her material, and though her pieces have a pristine, natural look, she puts hard tactile work into making them. As she describes it, “Each piece begins in a painterly manner as brushstrokes of colorful wool are layered to form a composition in fiber. Hot water is applied and the piece is then worked by hand, in a method similar to working with clay, by rolling, scrubbing, and manipulating the fiber to form a wearable felted fabric.” Show-goers in Baltimore will be lucky to see these efforts first hand. See more of Jenne Giles’ wearable artwork and felt paintings.
Deborah Kruger has been honing her craft for years, and the Surface Design Association is happy to have invited her to show at Baltimore this year. Constructed out of individually complex sewn feathers, Kruger creates involved works that combine fiber techniques, painting and encaustic to form bird-like forms full of color and energy. Dividing her time between Massachusetts and Mexico, Kruger makes work that allows her to access a part of herself that is less intellectual and more intuitive. She describes her unique assemblages as, “transforming the fluid and sensuous materials of wax and fiber into work that is neither traditional fiber art nor painting by pushing these materials towards each other and away from their usual applications.” She also describes her work as being archetypal, a fitting description as there is something instinctive and familiar in her forms. Viewers can expect to be treated to a display of bright and warm color that might remind them of a sunnier time of the year. They can also look forward to getting close to these pieces and investigating their complex assembly. We are excited to see the work ourselves! See more of Deborah Kruger’s fiber work.
Judit Varga’s work is all about balance, and she describes the organic ceramic objects she stages together as playing with the “harmonious tranquility of the elements, creating steadiness between seemingly off balanced objects,” which perfectly describes the kind of peace exuded by her work. Working with an attractive range of unexpectedly earthly colors—blues, yellows, whites and browns—Varga manipulates slabs of clay in various ways, including tearing and pinching, before decorating them with the understated engobes. Her work ranges from large, complex feats that she calls “knots”, where she builds textured shapes into complex helixes, to cup-shapes balancing on boxes. She describes her relationship with working in clay beautifully, stating, “I work in a quiet solitude in my small basement studio and find this peaceful loneliness a perfect stage for my play with clay. In the silence sometimes there is a moment of harmony when the clay and I understand each other perfectly, we know exactly what the other one wants to do.” Judit Varga was invited by the American Craft Council for the Baltimore show, and we’re happy to have this Maryland based artist with us, and are particularly excited to see what new combinations she will bring with her and what is new to her balancing act. Explore more of Judit Varga’s clay work.