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Craft Happenings: Fall 2021

Craft Happenings: Fall 2021

table with hexagonal ceramic plates with map illustrations topped with cup and honey jars with a person pointing at one of the plates

Featured in Food Justice at Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh: Anna Metcalfe, Pop-up Pollinator Picnic (installation detail, 2016–2021), porcelain, glaze, transfer prints, wood, 0.5 x 6 x 7 in. (one plate, dimensions vary). Photo by Guy Wagner.

Make this fall a season filled with craft. Here are 16 exhibitions and other events happening across the country for you to explore. To help you fill out your calendar, the events are organized by date (closing date for multi-day events).

1. Mode Brut
Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, California
September 4, 2021–January 23, 2022

The San Francisco nonprofit Creativity Explored gives studio space and mentoring to artists with developmental disabilities. In this exhibition, the museum displays textile works by more than 50 Creativity Explored artists, who teamed up with queer advocate/model Yanni Brumfield and designers from the community art collective Bonanza and San Francisco-based haute-couture brand Tokyo Gamine. The goal: reexamining the concept of fashion via a fusion of fine art, couture, and outsider art concepts.

hands propping up a sculpture designed to look like meat in plastic wrapped tray beside a large knife on a butchers board

Featured in Food Justice: Stephanie Herr, Alcampo - Butcher Bobs Garden (2021), photographic relief sculpture, hand cut and assembled, archival photo paper, conservation matboard, adhesives, freely based on USGS Topographic Maps, 7 x 10 x 2 in. Photo courtesy of the artist.

2. Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art
Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 10, 2021- March 19, 2022

This exhibition, created in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and other nonprofit partners, will present art and craft works that foreground problems that can make high-quality food hard to come by in communities: economic inequality, structural racism, corporate agricultural practices, food waste, climate change, and political struggles at home and around the world.

3. The Contemporary Print: 20 Years at Highpoint Editions
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
October 9, 2021–January 9, 2022

An impressive roster of major contemporary artists, including Julie Mehretu, Do Ho Suh, Willie Cole, Julie Buffalohead, Carlos Amorales, and Dyani White Hawk, have gone to Minneapolis’ Highpoint Editions to have their prints executed to exacting standards. The MIA recently acquired Highpoint’s entire archive, and this exhibition presents some 300 works by 40 artists, including Cole’s intaglios made from flattened ironing boards, and White Hawk’s series inspired by shell-decorated Native dresses.

4. Extra-Human: The Sculpture of Michael Ferris
The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia, PA
November 5, 2021–April 23, 2022

Ferris’ larger-than-life-size figurative wood sculptures have an almost dizzying intricacy on their surfaces, thanks to his mastery of an inlay technique based on Middle Eastern intarsia woodworking. Clothing shimmers; faces are worked over in ways that resemble Maori tattooing. He also uses pigmented grout, adding rich color, and expresses his environmental awareness by employing reclaimed wood. Extra-Human is the painter-turned-sculptor’s first East Coast solo museum show.

5. Making Place Matter
The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA
Opening October 2021

To inaugurate The Clay Studio’s new home in the multicultural South Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, the organization has invited three major ceramic artists to be in residence and take part in an exhibition and symposium. Works by Kukuli Velarde, Molly Hatch, and Ibrahim Said will be on display, and all three artists will interact with community members in a Visitor Engagement Gallery adjacent to the exhibition space. The artists’ works will reflect on their own backgrounds and identities as part of an exploration of the importance of place.

6. Trying to Make Sense of It: 9/11, Loss, and Memorial Quilts
International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE
August 20–October 16, 2021

Since the AIDS Memorial Quilt was conceived in 1985, quilting has become a powerful way to mourn and commemorate the victims of disasters, both natural and humanly created. Twenty years after 9/11—the day itself commemorated in a giant quilt project—the museum is displaying a range of quilts created in the wake of the Twin Towers attack and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that followed, inviting visitors to reflect on how piecing together cloth in beautiful patterns can help us come to terms with the experience of loss.

7. Rediscovering Paul Hultberg (1926–2019): Abstract Expressionism in Enamel
Moderne Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Through September 24

Trained as a painter, Paul Hultberg was drawn to enamels and to the emerging Studio Craft Movement in the 1950s. The enamel work he produced, some of it at architectural scale, was deeply influenced by the abstract expressionist currents rolling through painting at the time. But disdain for enamel as a “minor art” denied him recognition as a pioneering abstractionist, and his name isn’t well known even in craft circles. This showcase covers the full range of his work, including early prints and drawings and later portraits on canvas.

8. Craft Front & Center
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY
Through February 13, 2022

Underlining the emergence of craft concepts, materials, and techniques as central elements in the wider art world, this exhibition gathers iconic and lesser-known works—more than 70 in all—under thematic headings that highlight issues of identity, materials, the status of the craft object, and boundary breaking. Work by pioneers of craft-art melding such as Olga de Amaral and Patti Warashina shares space with lesser-known but significant pieces by icons such as Magdalena Abakanowicz and Marvin Lipofsky to tell the origin story of craft’s vital role in artmaking today.

9. Unexpected Turns: Women Artists and the Making of American Basket-Weaving Traditions
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
Through October 24, 2021

Baskets can be art, utility, weaving, sculpture—or all of these at once. They can be made with grasses, wire, porcupine quills, tubular beads, and more. They can carry objects, and they can carry precious markers of cultural identity. This show explores the astonishing diversity of American basketwork through a female lens, with works of both Native and non-Native women devoted to the craft, including Gail Tremblay (Mi’kmaq and Onondaga), Josie Robinson (Ojibwe), Mary Giles, Elaine Small, and Henrietta Snype (Gullah Geechee). It’s an opportunity to see how contemporary artists weave together innovation and inherited traditions.

ceramic sculpture of weathered tan face looking askew and melded with amorphous clay and glass shapes on a white table gray background

Featured in Mind+Matter: Arthur Gonzalez, The Sleeper Wakes (1983-2020), ceramic, blown glass, plaster, epoxy, pigment, glaze, 12 x 18 x 15 in. Photo courtesy of American Museum of Ceramic Art.

10. Mind+Matter: Five Bay Area Sculptors
American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA
August 14, 2021–January 23, 2022

Robert Brady, Arthur Gonzalez, Beverly Mayeri, Nancy Selvin, and Richard Shaw have been creating sculptural works in ceramics for more than three decades. In this exhibition, the Northern California quintet explore popular culture, personal narratives, contemporary questions, and the psychological issues that underpin their lives and works—from Brady’s figural abstraction and Selvin’s subtle explorations of function to the semi-surreal realism of Mayeri, Gonzalez’ enigmatic symbolism, and the fun and funk of Shaw’s faux found objects.

portrait of sun-illuminated person in a white and black embroidered western shirt posed infront of a large cactus in a yard with palm tree in background
white porcelain table and with four barrel shaped stools with blue designs surrounded by a curtain of blue hair

LEFT: Jennifer Ling Datchuk. Portrait by Clint Datchuk. RIGHT: Featured in Later, Longer, Fewer: Jennifer Ling Datchuk, How I came to my table (2019), porcelain table and stools made in collaboration with a table and stool factory in Jingdezhen, China, blue and white pattern transfers, cobalt decoration. 34 x 34 x 26 in. Photo courtesy of Women & Their Work.

11. Later, Longer, Fewer: The Work of Jennifer Ling Datchuk
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX
October 2, 2021–January 8, 2022

This show’s title alludes to a 1970s Chinese propaganda poster that promoted the “one-child policy” by encouraging women to use birth control. The policy resulted in many families rejecting girls in favor of boys. In an exhibition that combines sculptures in Chinese-style blue-and-white porcelain, multimedia installations, and performance video, Chinese-American artist Datchuk uses multiple images, including domestic objects and feminine beauty products, to tell stories of female empowerment and subjection.

red orange tan and black navajo pictoral textile with people animals houses and train cars

Kim Cridler, Pithos (storage jar, 2020), steel, pigment, beeswax, 70 x 36 x 36 in. Photo courtesy of Metal Museum.

12. Kim Cridler: Held
Metal Museum, Memphis, TN
October 3, 2021–March 6, 2022

Cridler’s finely detailed work, the fruit of close observation of the fields and woods near her home, nevertheless offers more than the sense of repose that we are conventionally expected to derive from the natural world. There’s unease, restlessness, and movement within the peaceful overall patterning of her pieces, and a sense of passage through time and space that’s not free of error and strangeness. The comprehensive exhibition honors the artist as the Metal Museum’s 2021 Master Metalsmith.

13. Healing and the Art of Compassion (and the Lack Thereof!)
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
October 9, 2021–September 4, 2022

This show focuses on two powers we’re sorely in need of today, in the inimitable style mix of “outsider” art. Works include Arthur Lopez’ Worlds Puzzle: Desmond Tutu, Pope John XXIII, JFK, and Mahatma Gandhi in wood, assembling puzzle pieces to make a map of the world; the angelic/prophetic figures of Mantu’s painting We Are Children of One Mother (Singing Scroll); Michael Green’s lithe, elegant Spirit Boat, and many more in what AVAM publicity describes as the museum’s “26th original and newest thematic mega-exhibition.”

red orange tan and black navajo pictoral textile with people animals houses and train cars

Featured in Toward the Morning Sun: Unidentified artist, Navajo, Ye’iibicheii Pictorial textile (1920s), handspun wool, wool warp, natural wool color, aniline dye, 47 x 79 in. The Valette Collection at the Heard Museum, Gift of Jean-Paul and Rebecca Valette, 4930-27. Photo by Craig Smith, courtesy of the Heard Museum.

14. Toward the Morning Sun: Navajo Pictorial Textiles from the Jean-Paul and Rebecca Valette Collection
Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Opens November 5, 2021

The Valettes made their names as language teachers—Rebecca as a professor of French at Boston College, and Jean-Paul as a language-textbook author. But the couple had another passion, Navajo textiles, and they spent nearly four decades collecting them, eventually donating their entire collection to the Heard. They also did painstaking research into the works’ traditions and makers. A curatorial team headed by the museum’s Andrew Mellon Fellows, Ninabah Winton (Diné), Roshii Montano (Diné), and César Esteban Bernal (Chicanx), bring their perspectives to the show.

15. David Schnuckel: Meaningful Gibberish
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA
September 11, 2021–February 20, 2022

Schnuckel investigates craftsmanship by exploring what craftsmanship conventionally fears and excludes: failure and decomposition. He’ll heat a blown-glass goblet and take time-lapse images of its bending, collapse, and melting together; or photograph the bits of glass residue that fall on the floor of his studio as he works. In Meaningful Gibberish, glass, photography, writing, drawing, and video combine to ask a question posed by the show’s publicity: “How can an artist break something down as thoughtfully and skillfully as it was once created?”

sculpture with chaotic arrangement of glowing neon glass shapes and various electronic equipment and toys

Featured in New Glass Now: James Akers, The Wild One (B) (2018), neon, circuit-bent toys, custom circuitry, 61 x 97 x 69 cm. The Corning Museum of Glass, 2019.4.162. Photo courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass. © James Akers.

16. New Glass Now
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
October 22, 2021–March 6, 2022

Objects, installations, videos, and performances by 50 artists working in more than 23 countries make up this comprehensive and innovative exhibition, the third in a series of major shows at the Renwick that have charted the course of glass art worldwide since 1959. New Glass Now, organized by the Corning Museum of Glass, includes but goes beyond the display of technically excellent vessels to include neon pieces, works that use glass sand and other unconventional materials, and even experiments in the chemistry of the medium.

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