What Are Objects, Anyway?

What Are Objects, Anyway?

Glen Michaels at "Objects Are ...?"

Glen Michaels assembling objects at opening night of “Objects Are . . .?” on June 20, 1968, at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts.

While processing archival material for the 1968 Museum of Contemporary Crafts exhibition “Objects Are . . .?” I was impressed with the exhibition’s opening night festivities. The invitation requested that attendees bring with them an object – “larger or smaller than a breadbox, anything from a paper clip to a barn door” – as their ticket to admission. These objects became part of an object collage produced on the spot by “master assembler” artist Glen Michaels.

This opening night activity caught the attention of journalist George W. S. Trow, who wittily wrote about “Objects Are . . .?” in “The Talk of the Town” column of the New Yorker on July 6, 1968. While Trow regrettably showed up to the opening without an object, he was amused by Michaels’ thoughtful collage-making process. After a conversation with director Paul Smith, Trow left with more questions about objects than when he arrived. Given the title of the exhibition and the intriguing entry requirements, that indeed seems like the intent.

If you are still curious about what objects are, images of objects from “Objects Are . . .?” are available through the American Craft Council Library Digital Collections. Our archive includes more images, correspondence, and press related to the exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts.

Margit Ahmann Wilson is completing the ARLIS/NA Wolfgang M. Freitag Internship Award in the archives at American Craft Council. Curios celebrates rare and wondrous items discovered in the American Craft Council archives.