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Material Matters: A Poetics of Possibilities
Curated by Howard Risatti

Jun 30, 2005-Jul 23, 2005

Press Release | Works | Curatorial Statement | Howard Risatti

Curatorial Statement


An Exhibition of objects in Craft Media

by Howard Risatti


Most of the artists in this exhibition engage a wide range of materials traditionally associated with Craft뻜or example, among the more established artists, Jack Wax works in glass, Allan Rosenbaum in ceramic, Douglas Finkel in wood, James Meyer in metal, and John Hawthorne in fiber.  Because of this, they would be identified as 밅raft artists.  However, in an art world in which Craft materials are regularly being used in the manner of Fine Art, distinctions based on material alone hardly seem important any longer.  If they were, where would we place Rosemarie Trockel with her knitting, Mike Kelly with his stuffed animals, and Jeff Koons with his slip-cast ceramics?  What is important about material, as this exhibition demonstrates, is how it is ultimately used in the service of artistic expression. 


When it comes to Craft, most people, whether consciously or not, still assume that Craft objects exhibit certain features, the most prominent of which is function.  This exhibition is decidedly not about function--in fact few works in it are actually functional, not even Bill Hammersley뭩 benches, Jason Hackett's urns, or Adam Welch뭩 platters.  Rather, it is an exploration of the special meanings and sensibilities inherent in Craft.  For instance, embracing the global (currently so evident in the art world) is hardly new to Craft since Craft-disciplines have always had cross-cultural affinities in form, material, technique, and concepts. Artists in this exhibition such as Hyo-in Kim and Ji-Wan Joo exploit Korean and Western ceramics, similarly, Lydia Thompson뭩 work displays elements of African design, and Susan Iverson employs Peruvian weaving methods. 


Craft objects tend to be relatively small and avoid the monumental scale implicitly invited by spacious contemporary museums. Ceramists Sergei Isupov and Suk-Jin Choi, fabric artists Nicole Haimbach and Maria Kovacs, and woodworkers Kate Hudnall and Travis Townsend, all create objects more closely scaled to the body than to monumental architecture. Their art works do not require large, formal exhibition spaces, but are quite at home in more personal and familial surroundings. 


Craft objects tend to direct attention to the domestic realm rather than  public spaces, something evident in J. D. Garn's ceramics and Cindy Myron's metal work.  They also tend to speak intimately and personally; more akin to chamber music than grand opera.  Moreover, in keeping with their sense of scale and setting, the concern with material in Craft includes fragility and interactive tactile sensations which, after all, are redolent with domestic life뭩 interpersonal and bodily relationships; such features are apparent in the glass works of Emilio Santini, Fumiaki Odajima, and Tim Wagner and the ceramics of Fiona Ross. 


The Craft object speaks in another voice, one that compliments rather than contradicts Fine Art.  In doing so it suggests a cross-cultural understanding of personal space that is rich with poetic possibility.


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