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Craft Happenings: Summer 2021

Craft Happenings: Summer 2021

Fijian masi cloth flowers

Fijian masi cloth flowers, as featured in the 2021 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by Mimi Robinson.

Twenty-three exhibitions, shows, festivals, and other events to look forward to this season. To help you navigate the summer, the events are organized by date (closing date for multi-day events).

1. SNAG 49th Annual Conference
Virtual and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 24–26, 2021

The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) is presenting its 2021 gathering with three days of speakers, workshops, exhibitions, awards, and networking opportunities. This year Eleanor Moty will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Goldsmith ‘20 exhibition, honoring SNAG’s 50th anniversary, will be held at The InLiquid Gallery in Philadelphia.

Exterior of the Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

The highly anticipated Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, will open to the public on June 26. Photo by Durston Saylor, courtesy John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

2. Opening of the Art Preserve at the John Michael Kohler Art Center
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
June 26, 2021

The Kohler Art Center’s Art Preserve was established to house a special kind of art: artist-built environments. These are spaces that have been transformed by artists, trained or self-taught, to convey elements of their personal history, the place where the environment is located, or the culture to which the artist belongs. Sculpture, painting, found objects, and many other forms may go into the mix, and the experience of the installations is immersive. The Preserve was designed to meet the challenges of housing the more than 35 environments it owns and presenting them in all their variety. A scheduled August 2020 opening date was delayed by COVID-19.

Singer with red headwrap singing into a red microphone

Cuban hip-hop artist Telmary Díaz, as featured in the 2021 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo courtesy of Telmary Díaz.

3. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 25–27, 2021

This year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival can be experienced virtually as Making Matters. This three-day online event offers craft workshops, kitchen demonstrations, and Story Circles. Streamed events include topics like Senegalese metalsmithing, Korean ginseng chicken soup, and “Placemaking, Collective Care, and Culture: A Conversation with Global Practitioners.” The festival’s marketplace includes handmade craft from around the world.

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Photo by Denise Womack-Avila.

4. International Folk Art Market
Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 9–11, 2021

Billed as the world’s largest exhibition and sale of works by folk artists—artists working in traditions rooted in culture and community—this gathering welcomes more than 150 artists from 60 different countries. Lectures, films, artist workshops, and special sales round out the activities.

5. Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
July 24, 2021

Sweetgrass baskets have been woven for three hundred years by women in the Gullah Geechee community in the South Carolina Low Country. This West African art form is a symbol of the cultural vitality of this distinctive Black community, and it’s the centerpiece of this daylong festival, a celebration of everything Gullah. Visitors can take part in basket making demonstrations and shop for quilts, Gullah dolls, and other handmade works by local crafters and artists. Singers and dancers, gospel groups, and storytellers will entertain, and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn about the Gullah Geechee people and their heritage.

Blown glass cheryy blossom branch extending from a boulder

Installation photograph of Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2020, courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Pictured is Debora Moore's Cherry, from the series Arboria, 2018, blown and sculpted glass and natural boulder, approx. 90 x 28 x 20 in. Photo by Ashley Reese.

6. Renwick Invitational 2020
Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC
May 14–August 15, 2021

The four artists invited to show to the ninth outing of this Smithsonian craft showcase—Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts—share a concern for the natural world, which they express in media ranging from fiber to mosaic, glass, and metals. From Horn’s opulent jewelry, suggesting coral or seaweed, to Fensterstock’s room-size celestial installation, the Invitational meditates on human relations with the natural world in an era where life is lived at greater and greater distance from it.

7. Humaira Abid: Searching for Home
Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
April 9–August 21, 2021

Born in Pakistan and based in Seattle, Abid creates wood sculptures that reproduce ordinary objects—with subtle additions and alterations that add irony, unease, and pointed reflections on the contemporary world. Searching for Home presents objects that, in their subtle way, tell harrowing stories of the refugee’s flight from, and search for, home. In a pile of bricks are scattered shoes, glasses, and toys. A carefully reproduced suitcase carries a red stain that may be blood. In all of the works, there’s a sense of balance between meticulous craftsmanship and a cry for justice.

8. Melting Point
Heller Gallery, New York, New York
Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, Massachusetts
June 24–September 5, 2021

For ceramic and glass artists, melting can mean disaster—or beauty. In this show, spread over two galleries in two states, nearly 100 artists explore the expressive potential of the melting process—and the personal, environmental, and political metaphors that melting suggests. Amber Cowen’s drippy fountain pieces are made of melted wares from defunct glass companies. Peter Christian Johnson creates intricate ceramic structures over which dollops of glaze pool and drip, evoking gravity, entropy, and beauty-as-failure. Sydney Cash contributes an eloquently melty mass of glass inside a wire frame, and Norwood Viviano’s glass cylinders, titled Cities Underwater, represent 16 coastal US cities that may be inundated in the biggest meltdown of them all, global warming.

Room in a museum filled with colorful glass artwork of different sizes

Installation photo from Glasstress Boca Raton 2021. Photo by Jacek Gancarz.

9. Glasstress Boca Raton 2021
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
January 27–September 5, 2021

This exhibition showcases work in glass by 34 internationally renowned artists, most of whom have represented their nations at the Venice Biennale. The artists, including Ai Weiwei, Jimmie Durham, and Vik Muniz, collaborated with the master glass artisans at Berengo Studio on the island of Murano in the lagoon of Venice to realize their works, breathing new life into the centuries-old glassblowing traditions of the city.

Engraved pewter pendant on a silver and gold chain

Featured in Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry: Winifred Mason Chenet, Voodoo Chain, c. 1940s-1960s. Pewter, brass. Photo by Houston Cofield, courtesy of LaMar R. Gayles, Jr.

10. Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry
Metal Museum, Memphis, Tennessee
July 17–September 11, 2021

Works by jewelers of African, African-American, and Afro-Caribbean descent working in the United States from the 1940s to the present show the variety and vitality of the Black tradition in jewelry and its place in the wider field of metalsmithing. The more than 60 works are accompanied by archival photographs to demonstrate how jewelry has been a carrier of cultural identity for craftspeople in the African diaspora.

11. Tomoshibi: Glass Works by Kazuki Takizawa; Cathy Cooper: Dramatis Personae; Making Time
Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, California
May 9–September 12, 2021

Three concurrent exhibits. Los Angeles–based Takizawa’s elaborate, biomorphic glass vessels, richly colored, are shown dramatically lit in an otherwise darkened gallery; their combination of strength and fragility is intended as a metaphor for the experience of living with bipolar disorder. Los Angeles performer-artist-costume designer Cooper’s works are part sculpture, part costume—textile compositions that employ layering to reveal what she calls the energy inherent in fabric. In Making Time, ten Los Angeles artists who’ve had solo exhibitions at Craft Contemporary since 2011 exhibit works in a variety of media, tracing the rapid evolution of craft ideas and techniques in the last decade.

12. With Eyes Opened: Cranbrook Academy of Art Since 1932
Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
June 18–September 19, 2021

Described in the press at its 1932 opening as “part laboratory, part atelier, and part artist’s colony,” Cranbrook Academy went on to become one of the most prestigious art, craft, and design schools in the country by emphasizing individual creativity and hands-on experience over academicism. This retrospective exhibition, which occupies all of the museum’s galleries, includes more than 250 works representing all the programs of study at the school—architecture, ceramics, design, fiber, metals, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

13. Olga de Amaral: To Weave a Rock
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
July 25–September 19, 2021

This will be the largest gathering ever in North America of the work of this Colombian visionary, whose practice has helped to expand and transform the fiber arts movement. Amaral’s most characteristic woven artworks are both sculptural and architectural—immersive works of abstraction, often coated in gold or painted, inhabiting the worlds of installation and conceptual art. To Weave a Rock, co-organized with the Cranbrook Art Museum, will bring together more than 50 of Amaral’s pieces, ranging in time from her early Muros (Walls) series to the recent series entitled Brumas (Mists).

14. All at Once: The Gift of Navajo Weaving
Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
Through September 26, 2021

Forty-six works of textile art by contemporary Navajo weavers are accompanied by statements by the makers, including such masters as Marlowe Katoney, Marilou Schultz, and the sisters Barbara Teller Omelas and Lynda Teller Pete. Works and words combine to demonstrate how tribal and family traditions, weaving knowledge, and technique come together “all at once” as the weaver works.

15. Hard/Cover
Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 9–September 26, 2021

The Fabric Workshop and Museum has run residencies since the 1980s, at which artists working in other media have been invited to explore screen printing. Four artists—Louise Bourgeois, Viola Frey, Toshiko Takaezu, and Betty Woodman—who found ways to make screen printing part of their sculptural or ceramic practice in the program’s early days are the focus of the show. They’re joined by five contemporary artists who have also added screen printing to their set of artistic resources.

16. Many Waters: A Minnesota Biennial
July 24–October 2, 2021
Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul, Minnesota

This juried group show of Minnesota-based artists, postponed for a year by the pandemic, celebrates water and calls attention to threats to the purity and availability of H2O. Nine of the 44 artists on display work in fiber or textiles, including Métis/Ojibwe artist Karen Goulet and fiber sculptor Kimber Olsen. Paper arts are also represented. With the museum itself still closed to the public, Many Waters is on display in the MMAA’s windows, at one of its entrances, and in an offsite gallery.

Empty room with various wooden sculptures hanging like a mobile

Featured in Another Crossing, Annette Bellamy’s Wood, Water, and Distance (2020) includes the boat (center) she made from red cedar, wood-fired stoneware and porcelain, pit-fired earthenware, and raku-fired stoneware. It measures 30 x 10 x 5 in. Collaborating artists Lena Amason-Berns, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Rebecca Lyon, Tommy Joseph, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, and Heidi Senungetuk also contributed to the installation. Photo by Chris Arend.

17. Another Crossing: Artists Revisit the Mayflower Voyage
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts
July 3–October 10, 2021

On the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage from Plymouth, England, to what would become Plymouth, Massachusetts, the museum presents the work of 10 artists from the US, the UK, and the Netherlands commemorating the event in a unique way: curator Glenn Adamson specified that only 17th-century technology could be used in the creation of the objects. Research trips to both Plymouths gave the artists insight into the craft skills of the era and the historical background of an event that’s seen by some as a historical landmark to be treasured, and by others as a harbinger of ruin for Native people.

Necklace with various wood ornaments

From Wood and Body: Babette von Dohnanyi (Hungary/Italy), Necklace, 2012, oak, 925 silver, linoleum, cotton, silk cord. The Center for Art in Wood Museum Collection, Donated by Helen Williams Drutt Family Collection in Memory of H. Peter Stern. Photo by John Carlano./

18. Wood and Body: Expressions of Contemporary Jewelry
The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
July 2–November 7, 2021

Can a “jewel” be made of wood? This exhibition responds in the affirmative by showing the work of a group of jewelers committed to the warmth and humanity of wood as a major contributor to the beauty of jewelry—artists as skilled in woodworking as they are in metalsmithing.

Glass sculpture with reflective cutout layers forming a tunnel

Featured in Trace: Purnima Patel, Iberis. Photo by Sylvain Deleu.

19. Trace: Terri Grant & Purnima Patel
Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington
July 23, 2021–January 2, 2022

Grant and Patel are awardees of the Pilchuck Glass School’s John H. Hauberg Fellowship, which gives a team of artists the chance to explore new ways of working with glass. The pair chose to create works that reflect on the idea of the trace—a small or large presence that can take the form of a stain, a shred, a fragment, a relic, even a smell or taste—testifying to something greater lying around or beyond. The delicate works evoke the rings formed in water by a fallen raindrop, waves of sonic resonance, and other “traces” in the seen and unseen natural world.

20. Paper Stories, Layered Dreams: The Art of Ekua Holmes
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
July 17, 2021–January 23, 2022

Holmes, an artist-activist and lifelong resident of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, creates vibrant collages in paper, many of which have illustrated children’s books. The exhibition focuses mainly on these book projects, which celebrate Black life and achievement. Among works included are her images for a biography of civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer and Black Is a Rainbow Color, a meditation for kids on the beauty of Blackness.

21. Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York
May 22, 2021—February 13, 2022

To the ancient Israelites, the tabernacle was a tent where God dwelt; in the Catholic church, it’s the repository of consecrated host. In this exhibition, painter Carrie Moyer and sculptor/fiber artist Sheila Pepe have teamed up to create colorful contemporary tabernacles dedicated to cultural values such as justice, equality, and knowledge, and to feminism and queer activism. The centerpiece of the show is the Parlor for the People, a “big tent” filling an entire gallery and devoted to bringing together community partners, artists, scholars, students, and members of social organizations to explore the exhibition’s themes.

22. Craft Front and Center
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York
May 22, 2021–February 13, 2022

Times have changed since anyone could draw a hard line between craft and fine art, and this exhibition documents that evolution. More than 70 works show how craft has responded and contributed to major art movements, like Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism. The show also demonstrates how craft’s relationship with gallery art has helped advance the art careers of women and people of color. Craft visionaries and pioneers like Olga de Amaral, Charles Loloma, and Patti Warashina are highlighted, along with other makers from both “worlds” who have led the way in the art/craft convergence.

23. Counterparts: Glass + Art Elements
Tacoma Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington
April 2, 2021–April 2022

“Today, glass art is countering the implicit hierarchies of the art world,” says the official announcement of this exhibition. To illustrate how work in glass is finding a place within rather than below the traditional “fine” arts, the exhibition presents glass and non-glass artworks side-by-side under the headings of seven important art elements: color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value.

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