Craft Happenings: Winter 2022
Work by Dale Chihuly as featured in Chihuly in the Desert: Art-Architecture-Nature at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo courtesy of the Desert Botanical Garden.
1. Crafting Connections: Our Relationship with Handheld Glass
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY
Through May 16, 2022
This exhibition of small glass pieces invites visitors to reflect on how personal objects can convey subtle feelings and connect people across space and time. This meditation on the power of objects you hold in your hand was, in true pandemic-era style, organized remotely using digital images, and by an unusual curatorial team: local middle and high school students in Corning’s Junior Curators program.
2. Unseen Hours: Space Clearing for Spirit Work
Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA
September 15, 2021–March 13, 2022
Maria Molteni and Allison Halter conceived Unseen Hours, the culmination of their residency at Fruitlands, as a site-specific performance honoring the Shaker tradition. The advent of COVID-19 turned that plan into a film, the centerpiece of this exhibition. In it, the pair perform a series of ritual actions in the Shaker Office, a building the sect constructed in 1794, now on the museum’s grounds. Molteni and Halter employed many original Shaker objects from the museum’s collection in the movie, and these will be on display in the gallery.
3. Witch Craft: Rethinking Power
Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
October 3, 2021–January 9, 2022
Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa’s lush, tapestry-like wall hangings and complex sculptures are entirely made of post-consumer detritus—spray cans, squeezed-out toothpaste tubes, computer keyboards. They explore the complexities of politics in his native land and pay homage to the art of the Korekore people, the Bantu group to which he belongs. He has created new works for this show, his first solo exhibition, including massive pieces that seem to float in mid-air and evoke a spiritual dimension that he sees as key to Africa’s future.
4. Back and Forth: Red and Meth
Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
October 22–December 30, 2021
Hip-hop and ceramics? Yes, that combination is not only possible, it’s powerful and eloquent in the work of Roberto Lugo (currently also showing work in the Metropolitan Museum’s Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, see below) and six collaborators. On Lugo’s urns, coffee pots, and other elegant functional objects, the shepherdesses, pastoral landscapes, and flower motifs of traditional ceramic décor are replaced by intense, colorful portraits, in street-art style, of civil rights leaders, musicians, sports figures, and other icons of the BIPOC community.
5. Thaddeus Mosley: Forest
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
October 17, 2021–March 27, 2022
The exhibition’s subtitle, “Forest,” is artist Mosley’s nickname, given to him by painter Sam Gilliam, who calls him the “keeper of old trees, round trees, big trees, heavy trees.” Mosley, a mostly self-taught artist, transforms timber from local sawmills into abstract, biomorphic works inspired by jazz, African-diaspora art, and high modernism—using only a mallet, a chisel, and sophisticated joinery.
6. The Studio Glass Movement in Wisconsin: The Hyde Collection
Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI
October 23, 2021–January 23, 2022
Thirty glass artists pay homage to the glass traditions that were born some 60 years ago in the Badger State—particularly in the studio of Harvey Littleton (sometimes referred to as the father of the studio glass movement) at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and in the art department of UW–River Falls. Pieces by Littleton and his students share space with work from more conceptually oriented contemporaries with training in Wisconsin, including Beth Lipman and Jeffrey Stenbom.
7. If a Tree Falls: Art of the Boundary Oak
Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA
October 30, 2021–February 13, 2022
A windstorm in the fall of 2019 blew down a Walnut Creek icon—a massive and beautiful valley oak tree estimated to be more than three centuries old and dubbed the Boundary Oak because it stood on what was originally the boundary between the city and the surrounding Contra Costa County. In this community-inspired exhibition, a roster of 64 emerging and established Bay Area artists pay homage to the great tree by fashioning a wide variety of beautiful objects from its wood.
8. Chandra DeBuse: Around the Corner
The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA
November 5–December 31, 2021
Chandra DeBuse, a founding member of the Kansas City Urban Potters collaborative, calls her functional wares—cups, jars, plates, and bowls—“playscapes where pattern and character frolic.” They’re decorated all over with colorful images of birds, snakes, chipmunks, bats, and other creatures that one might meet in an urban setting—“right around the corner”—plus flowers and leaves, all in a style that balances elegance of design with a touch of imaginative whimsy.
9. Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
November 5, 2021–ongoing
While most museum period rooms look backward into a (generally white/European) past, this brand-new one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents an Afrocentric fusion of past, present, and future by creating an imagined interior from one of the houses of Seneca Village—a settlement just west of the museum that, in the 1850s, was home to a free Black community. The Village was razed to make room for Central Park and its people dispossessed—but this room imagines that it had continued. It’s a shrine to African American experience and hopes, supplied not only with domestic furniture but with Bamileke beadwork from Cameroon, 19th-century American ceramics, and contemporary art and design that celebrate the Black experience.
10. Chihuly in the Desert: Art-Architecture-Nature
Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ
Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ
December 3, 2021–June 19, 2022
The earth-toned Arizona desert has splashes of brilliant color—desert flowers. But if you’re exploring Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden this winter, you’ll discover “blossoms” on an entirely different scale: huge, intricate, startlingly gorgeous works of glass by Dale Chihuly, installed along the trails amid the Garden’s natural flora. Many of these works by the legendary glass master have never been on public display before. There’s more Chihuly in a gallery in the Garden’s reception hall, too, and even more on the grounds of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert headquarters 17 miles away in Scottsdale.
11. Boston Area Mask Initiative Commemorative Face Mask Scrap Quilt
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA
December 6–28, 2021
The face mask is probably the dominant symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scraps from the cutting and sewing of thousands of masks make up this quilt, loaned to Fuller by the Boston Area Mask Initiative (BAMI), a grassroots organization of mask makers, and Gather Here, a craft studio and shop. The vibrant work is a tribute to those lost to the disease, those who struggle with it, and the many thousands of women worldwide who sewed these protective cloth works to safeguard the health of their families and communities.
12. Disrupting Design: Modern Posters, 1900–1940
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
December 10, 2021–April 24, 2022
The modernist revolution in art in the early 20th century was paralleled by a revolution in design, and posters—ephemeral and of the moment—chronicle the shift. Drawing on the collection of New York businessman Merrill C. Berman, which focuses on radical art, this exhibition tells the story of the reinvention of European graphic design by avant-garde artists working in commercial and political spheres—finding bold new ways to sell wine or change the social system.
13. RAM Showcase: Objects
Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
December 15, 2021–April 23, 2022
The Racine Art Museum’s Showcase series, which officially launches with this show, is designed to highlight, in the words of the museum’s website, “pieces that specifically engage in conversations around diversity and social justice.” Accordingly, an important goal of the series is to show the work of artists of color. The objects on display here are all by nonwhite makers and range from sculpture to jewelry. They represent a wide variety of conceptual approaches, including personal narrative, ornament, functionality, and exploration of materials.
14. Object Permanence: Timea Tihanyi & Sylwia Tur
Tg: Transitions in Kiln-Glass
Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
January 21–May 29, 2022
The works in Object Permanence are by artist-scientists. Hungarian-born Tihanyi is a cognitive scientist, and Tur, born in Poland, is a linguist. The ceramic works they have crafted for this show are emotionally charged, recalling the few precious belongings an immigrant carries with her, reminders of home and symbols of transience. They’re displayed in a structure of stacked boxes. “As a unit,” write the show’s organizers, “they resemble shipping crates, apartment blocks, theater stages, magician’s boxes, time capsules, linguistic systems, and compartments of memory”—and perhaps the Zoom compartments within which we communicate these days.
Tg: Transitions in Kiln-Glass is a touring exhibition of contemporary kiln-glass art, design, and architecture, the winning pieces in a juried competition open to applicants worldwide. In the kiln forming technique, kiln heat fuses elements made of glass types compatible with the kiln environment; Tg stands for temperature at which the glass transitions from a solid to a pliable state. The technique emerged around two decades ago, and since then an enthusiastic and skilled international community of makers has developed.
15. Amy Genser: Shifting
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA
January 22, 2022–November 20, 2023
Genser’s constructions of paper, paint, metal, and thread explore the shapes and processes of the natural world—the flow of water, the complexity of plant life, the structure of beehives. In these sculptural works, which flow off the walls of the museum into engagement with its architectural forms, she draws on the museum’s natural surroundings to create images of the seasons and their transitions.
16. Melissa Stern: The Talking Cure
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA
January 29–May 15, 2022
Twelve ceramic sculptures are given voices—maybe even psyches—in this multimedia exhibition. Born from Stern’s imagination and her shaping hands, the objects “speak” to viewers by way of 12 recorded texts by different authors, each voiced by a different actor. In the spirit of Freud, who coined the term talking cure as a description of psychoanalysis, the sculptures reveal themselves in these monologues, escaping the confines of clay.
17. Craft in the Laboratory: The Science of Making Things
Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, NC
Opening February 12, 2022
In an endorsement of the acronym STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics—plus art), this reinstallation of the Mint’s permanent collection galleries of craft and design will use labels and videos to explore the technical/scientific aspects of the materials and processes that go into the making of each work, demonstrating how artists think like engineers and scientists.
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