Category Archives: Amazing Makers

The New Materiality at the Fuller Museum of Craft

A review in last Sunday’s providence journal sparked my interest in the Fuller Museum of Crafts current exhibition, The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft. The show presents work that, although made by traditional craft artists, embraces technology as a emotive material. The combination of these two disparate methodologies creates an technology are getting more and more irrelevant.

I’m really interested to check out this show… especially because one of the artists included in New Materiality is the San Francisco based design duo, Mike & Maaike. Mike and Maaike will be showing pieces from their Stolen Jewels line of work… interesting platform to discuss the role that technology can play in today’s contemporary craft world. Traditional boundaries between art, craft, and which is one of my favorites! They will also be participating in the show that I am co-curating this fall, Chromophiliaso, New Materiality will be a good chance to sneak-peek their work before Chromophilia opens.

New Materiality is up through February 6th, 2011 at the Fuller Museum of Craft… check out more info here.

Images: top: 3-D Chair, by Brian Boldon, digital glass decals, float glass, epoxy and aluminum. Bottom: Stolen Jewels #7, Mike and Maaike, leather.

Brian Jungen exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian

While I was in D.C. recently I spent a day touring the mall and the Smithsonian Museums. I’m pretty proud of myself for seeing four monuments, three museums, one gallery, and the White House (much less impressive that I’d imagined) all in one day… it was a serious Americana binge that I’m still recovering from!

One of the best exhibits that I saw was at the National Museum of the American Indian, Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort. The show was amazing, and Jungen’s work was phenomenal. The installation of the show was really impressive, the gallery was dimly lit with spot lights only illuminating the works. It gave a very intimate/anthropological feel to the show. When you enter the gallery space, the first work that you see is a scale whale skeleton made entirely out of white plastic lawn chairs serenely suspended in the dark space. It was really awe inspiring, and considering that I had just come from the Natural History Museum, the dichotomy between form and material was even more conceptually exciting.

Jungen also had on display gas cans which had traditional Native American designs pierced into them. Monarch is pictured above. I really appreciate his honest use of consumer materials and how he blends them together with traditional symbols from his ancestry. He does a good job at transforming the original materials, and having the content become a little more subtle. Another example of this would be the traditional masks that he has stitched out of deconstructed Nike Airs.

The show was great, and I ended up buying the catalog for the show, which is a beautiful publication that has lots of interesting back story on the pieces. If you’re in D.C. this is a show that you really shouldn’t miss!

Field Trip to JewelersWerk Galerie

So, we’ve been working hard to install the show at Honfleur Gallery, and it’s looking great! Although the opening is tomorrow, after making a list of all the tasks that we have left to address, we decided that we had enough time to take the afternoon off and head over to visit JewelersWerk Galerie.

JewelersWerk is a tiny exhibition space nestled into Cady’s Alley, just off of M Street in Georgetown. The gallery is extremely well designed, and features endless display drawers filled with jewelry made by some of today’s most prominent makers. Currently on display is the work of Esther Knobel, a Polish born Israeli artist who has been recently honored with the Andrea M. Bronfman Prize for outstanding Israeli Decorative Arts.

Knobel’s work features enameling, electroformed copper, and other avant sculptural processes with more traditionally recognized jewelry making techniques such as stringing pearls and bead work. I really likes her work, especially the color scheme and the pairing together of contrasting design elements. I also fell in love with the way that her work references organic origins and inspirations.

Esther’s display was also beautifully informal and visually accessible to the viewer. Her pieces were laid out on unstretched canvas, with titles written directly on the fabric and walls. I ended up buying her book, The Mind in the Hand, and can’t wait to dive into it and investigate her studio practice a little more.

I’ve attached a couple images of the gallery, in all it’s compact glory.

Objectified sneak preview: Colleen Heineman

Colleen Heineman is part scientist. She investigates, analyzes, sorts, charts, decodes, and reconstitutes information into art objects that reflect her concepts and processes. I’m really drawn to Colleens’ artistic process, her methods of investigating and understanding her materials lead to a creative relationship where the artist acts as a catalyst, initiating the metamorphosis of her concepts. The results after the transformation: totem like sculptures that pay homage to an in-depth system of documentation and visual exploration.

The alchemy of Colleens’ scientific approach has yielded and increadible group of copper sculptures, Sorted Conglomerates. This body of work articulates observations on consumer culture, identity, and personal clutter. This set of work is really phenomenal, and I am particularly interested in the ideas of artist as facilitator, catalyst, and composer that are referenced in these works. These pieces also visually reference natural land formations and tectonic masses.

I appreciate Colleens’ meticulous way of working, and how she has committed herself to creating physical mementos that reflect her concepts. The Sorted Conglomerates will also be on display with an accompanying set of schematic drawings which reference the arduous process the Colleen undertakes in her making process.

As an aside, how amazing to these copper pieces look!?! The craftsmanship is amazing!

Objectified sneak preview: Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller has just completed her Masters program at University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in Art Metals. Her most recent body of work, Peripheral Systems, Parts 1-5, is a series of necklaces that compare elements of our constructed environment with the human body.

Her wearable sculptures reference commonplace elements of our environment: spigot handles, duct work, or HVAC piping. All of these industrial elements are objects which we have become de-sensitized to; allowing them to infiltrate our modern existence with our dependency upon them.

These elements which Andrea focuses on were originally purposed for function and practicality. Despite their utilitarian origins, Andrea has managed to find beauty and pleasure in exploring her source materials, and I am glad to have her work included in Objectified. Her pieces are miniature replicas of the most unromantic industrial components, talismans honoring the unacknowledged architectural elements that we utilize every single day. I especially appreciate Andreas decision to move these sculptures onto the body, it seems to help translate the original source materials into the realm of the domestic more easily, and also provides and unexpected pedestal for the work.

Objectified sneak preview: Robert Longyear

It’s no secret that I’ve had an art-crush on Robert Longyear’s work for quite a while now. And maybe the theme for Objectified was a little of an excuse to have an opportunity to see his work in real life, who knows. Regardless of my motivations, I am excited to have him participating in Objectified, his work will definitely add unique perspective to the dialogue of the show.

His pieces are conglomerations of disenfranchised objects, using neglected structures as his source materials. In this way, he is able to reveal the hidden construction of deteriorating buildings, provide the viewer with a new method of perceiving space, and creates metaphors for the human condition.

The conglomerate objects made of industrial detritus are steeped in concepts of lapsed history, time, neglect, and fate. They also seem to become bodily, referencing lace-like internal organs; making the viewers relationship to them that much more intimate.

Objectified Super Sneek Preview

This past week I had the opportunity to see a newly finished piece by Jeanne Jo, one of the very talented artists participating in the show that I’m curating, Objectified. I have always been a fan of Jeanne Jo’s work, but the piece that she created for Objectified is truly phenomenal. She had just finished it the morning that she delivered it to me, and it’s pretty astounding.

Her piece, If a Mouth were to Whisper, is the opening phrase from a treasured love letter that was sent to her by someone who has since passed away. Jeannie transcribed the text from the letter into an alpha-numerically crocheting pattern. The result is a textile piece whose subtle patterns are a direct result of the transcription. The delicate holes that pattern the piece reference both piano paper from player pianos and an aged memento of moth eaten lace.

I am excited to have If a Mouth were to Whisper in the show; the intimate quality of this craft-rooted piece will compliment the metal work in the show. The image to the right is documentation of the piece, which is easily over 100 feet long and took approximately 50 hours to complete. This piece just exudes feelings of memory, comfort, vulnerability, and attentiveness. I really appreciate the pliability of the work, and how it both interacts with the body in a loving/cocoon like manner and simultaneously drags behind with excess physical and conceptual weight.

Ah-Young Oh’s neo-classical knot rings…

Breathtaking.

Although I chronically peruse the website, I don’t usually expect to find anything on Design*Sponge that throws me into an all out tizzy, but there’s a first for everything! I noticed that have featured an amazing two finger ring by Ah-Young Oh, made of plated sterling silver, gypsy set cubic zirconia, and braided silk. This ring, pictured below, is a contemporary design inspired by portraits of Renaissance nobles, specifically the powered wigs and braided hairstyles of women from the time.

I really love the soft, tactile design of the ring, and the supple weave of the silk. Also, the use of gypsy setting is a nice honest way to balance out the opulence of the piece, it’s a much more direct method of stone setting which requires the metal to literally be pushed up onto the stone.

I’m so glad that the editors of Design*Sponge included Ah-Young’s piece on their blog, it makes me really happy to see jewelry considered as more than just a simple accessory.

Chromophilia

Devienna Anggraini and I have been collaborating on the curation of Chromophilia, an upcoming exhibition of contemporary art jewelry focusing on color and material. We’ve had some amazing makers agree to participate in this endeavor, and I’m simply ecstatic about how Chromophilia is developing! So far, we’ve been lucky to involve Mike and Maaike, Jimin Park, Jenny Bradley,Amy Weiks, and Mariana Acosta.

The artists’ work presented in this exhibition is a result of in-depth investigations of color and materials. These explorations are articulated within the format of jewelry, which uses the human body as a pedestal. These artists have challenged the traditional concept of what adornment is, and are working beyond the borders of conventional jewelry. Non-traditional materials replace gold and gem stones, allowing the artists to adorn the wearer with jewelry that speaks more to design, and concept rather than monetary value. The saturation of color used by all of these artists to catch the eye, as well as to emphasize the effect that jewelry has on the wearer and its audience. Be sure to follow the Chromophilia blog here, which we are constantly updating.

Jointed Jewels by Alissia Melka-Teichroew

So, I was just perusing the internet when I cam across an amazing artist, Alissia Melka-Teichroew. Seriously, her series of jointed jewels makes my head hurt a little! Alissia seems to be part jewelery, part industrial designer, and part magician. Her work, which references ball joints in cars and hip replacements, uses selective laser sintering to create the ball within a ball as one piece. Each piece is made in a single shot, using the laser to additively sculpt each work in it’s entirety at one time… no post assembly needed!

Alissia finds inspiration in iconic jewelery, including luxury brands such as Bulgari and Cartier, and many of the bangles, necklaces and rings are interpretations of renaissance and Victorian jewels. Her multi-tiered pieces have connecting joints that pick up on human bone structure.

This is the same process that Nervous System used to create their intricately structured nylon rings. I really appreciate the co-opting that both these designers have done with the process of selective laser sintering, sometimes when techniques are so based in the technical it makes it hard for artists and makers to utilize them. I’m a little jealous of their brains, and totally want their work!