Featuring Chris Antemann, Françoise Grossen, Coille Hooven, Lauren Kalman, Peter Voulkos, and Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring
New York, NY (August 22, 2016)
This fall, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presents MAD Transformations, a series of six exhibitions showcasing artists who have transformed and continue to reshape the public perception of traditional craft mediums. Building upon the exhibition Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, which celebrates the work of an artist known for drastically changing the way clay is categorized as an art material and discipline, the series considers fiber, clay, and jewelry and metals—disciplines that have composed the bedrock of MAD's founding mission and collection, and that continue to morph in the hands of contemporary artists today.
"MAD's mission is rooted in craftsmanship, the ways that skilled makers transform the world around us," says Shannon R. Stratton, MAD's William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. "This fall's six exhibitions highlight artists whose engagement with specific materials, their process, and the transformation of these materials enabled them to break through boundaries of established disciplines or perceptions of art versus craft."
Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS
By Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring
September 15, 2016 to January 22, 2017
Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS celebrates the 10th anniversary of the "Crochet Coral Reef" (2005–present), an ongoing project by sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Los Angeles–based organization, the Institute For Figuring. Mixing crocheted yarn with plastic trash, the work fuses mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices, and craft to produce large-scale coralline landscapes, both beautiful and blighted. At once figurative, collaborative, worldly, and dispersed, the "Crochet Coral Reef" offers a tender response to the dual calamities facing marine life: climate change and plastic trash.
With 2016 the hottest year on record, living reefs everywhere are under stress. Into these arenas of color huge areas of whiteness now intrude; bleaching events signal that corals are sick and dying. In 2005, in response to the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef in their native Australia, the Wertheims began to crochet a simulation of healthy and ailing reefs. Using the algorithmic codes of crochet, the sisters produce crenellated forms that are representations of hyperbolic geometry, which is also manifest in the undulating structures of corals, kelps, and other reef organisms. The Wertheims and their collaborators, a core group of worldwide "Crochet Reefers," fabricate an ever-evolving artificial ecology, mixing environmental science with science fiction to create a call to action in this time of human impact and responsibility.
A unique presentation of the "Crochet Coral Reef" that focuses on climate change and ocean health, Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS consists of three main "habitats." A giant Coral Forest and a collection of miniature Pod Worlds represent the diversity of living corals through the varying textures, colors, and forms of crocheted yarn and beads. A Bleached Reef and a brand-new Toxic Reef serve as invocations of dying corals, while The Midden—four years' worth of the Wertheims' own domestic plastic trash—constitutes a deeply personal response to the issue of plastic waste in the oceans, including human-made phenomena such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS is curated by Assistant Curator Samantha De Tillio for the Museum of Arts and Design.
Major support for Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS is provided by Michele and Marty Cohen. Additional support is generously provided by Nanette L. Laitman, Barbara and Donald Tober, The Coby Foundation, Ltd., and The Donald and Barbara Zucker Family Foundation.
Coille Hooven: Tell It By Heart
September 22, 2016 to February 5, 2017
Coille Hooven: Tell It By Heart assembles works that span more than 30 years of Coille Hooven's career. Working in porcelain, Hooven creates psychologically charged sculpture that explores domestic-centered narratives from the kitchen to the bedroom. One of the first ceramists to bring feminist content to clay, she uses porcelain to honor the history of women's work, confront gendered inequality, and depict the pleasures, fears, and failures of partnering and parenting.
Hooven's sculptures, which range from teapots and vessels to figurative busts and dioramas, mine the domestic psyche to produce vignettes that resonate with familiarity despite an undisguised use of the fantastical. Developing her own vocabulary of archetypes, she regularly revisits certain creatures and forms: a domestic palette of aprons, pillows, shoes, and pies, as well as a cast of characters that includes mermaids, fish, snakes, and anthropomorphic beasts that appear part-dog, part-horse, and part-human. While these creatures may appear familiar and amiable at first, tension lurks beneath the surface. Recalling fairy tales, fables, and myths, Hooven's sculptures conjure a vision of the unconscious—both the joy and buoyancy of dreams, and the discomfort and despair of anxiety and doubt.
Hooven studied at the University of Illinois under David Shaner, graduating in 1962. That same year, only 23 years old and at the beginning of her career, Hooven submitted a piece to the Museum of Arts and Design (then the Museum of Contemporary Crafts) for the Young Americans exhibition. From there, she built up the ceramics program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore before leaving her job and moving west to Berkeley, California, with her two small children. Arriving at a time when Berkeley was the stronghold for experimental work in clay, Hooven joined an artistic community that included Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. Unlike many of her peers, Hooven worked independently of academia and made a maverick career in California both as a studio potter, designing and making functional wares, and as an artist working in porcelain sculpture, creating the figurative work on display in this exhibition. In 1979, Hooven became the second woman to be in residence at the Kohler Co. plant in Kohler, Wisconsin, as part of its renowned Arts/Industry residency program.
This exhibition will be the first solo museum exhibition for Hooven in New York and her first in 24 years.
Coille Hooven: Tell It By Heart is curated by William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator Shannon R. Stratton, with the support of Curatorial Assistant and Project Manager Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy.
Support for Coille Hooven: Tell It By Heart is generously provided by Michele and Marty Cohen, Marge Levy, and Friends of Coille Hooven.
Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit
September 22, 2016 to February 5, 2017
Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit celebrates the collaboration between Oregon-based artist Chris Antemann and the renowned MEISSEN Porcelain Manufactory. In 2011 Antemann was invited to participate in MEISSEN's art studio program, in which she worked closely with MEISSEN's master artisans to create unique pieces and a series of limited editions that strike a perfect balance between her distinctive style and MEISSEN's identity. These pieces are arranged in Forbidden Fruit as a grand installation that reinvents and invigorates the great figurative tradition.
Inspired by eighteenth-century porcelain figurines and decorative art, Antemann's delicate and intricately detailed sculptures are lavishly presented on a central banquet table alongside a selection of stand-alone sculptures and a nine-light porcelain chandelier. Her centerpiece, Love Temple (2013), is inspired by MEISSEN's great historical model of Johann Joachim Kändler's monumental Love Temple (1750). Stripping the original design back to its basic forms, Antemann added her own figures, ornamentation, and flowers to her five-foot work, as well as a special finial with three musicians to herald the arrival of guests to the banquet of "forbidden fruit" below.
Using the Garden of Eden as her metaphor, Antemann has inserted scantily clad male and female figures to create a contemporary interpretation of the eighteenth-century banqueting craze. Posed in intimate and playful vignettes of seduction, Antemann's figures convey narratives of domesticity, social etiquette, and taboos while making formal references to classic baroque MEISSEN figurines. The ceramist thus invents a new narrative on contemporary morality in a setting that evokes the decadence of François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau.
Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit is a traveling exhibition organized by Chris Antemann. The artworks were produced with Antemann by the MEISSEN Porcelain Manufactory in the MEISSEN artCampus. It was secured for the Museum of Arts and Design by William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator Shannon R. Stratton, with the support of Curatorial Assistant and Project Manager Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy.
Support for Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit is generously provided by Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, Joan and Alan Safir, Sandra Kissler and Mort Weinstein, Dorothy Saxe, and MEISSEN®.
Françoise Grossen Selects is part of MAD's POV series, which invites guests' perspectives on the Museum's permanent collection through the lens of their own practices. In the 1960s, Françoise Grossen rejected the rectilinear loom that constrained contemporary weaving in favor of an intuitive approach to fiber that resulted in the creation of large-scale, suspended rope forms constructed of knots, loops, braids, and twists. At the time, fiber was still associated with utility rather than fine art, and Grossen's freehand, three-dimensional handling of the medium was considered a revolutionary gesture that upset the traditional hierarchy subordinating craft to art. A number of other artists in the 1960s and '70s, including Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, and Magdalena Abakanowicz, also began working with fiber in innovative ways, and they shared Grossen's interest in the process of making and the desire for unmediated contact with everyday materials such as rope, string, cord, and twine.
Process as an aesthetic value in the art world of the 1960s and '70s provides one context for this groundbreaking work. Grossen also found inspiration in utilitarian structures and objects made of fiber, such as rope suspension bridges, Peruvian khipus, marine ropes for docking and anchoring, and natural forms such as the exoskeletons of insects. Her practice has always involved translating these sources into abstract forms through a cumulative, repetitive approach that she describes as "rope upon rope, braid after braid." Through this methodical process her work takes shape, shifts, and mutates into forms that elegantly thematize transformations of the natural and the cultural, from the processing of fiber into utilitarian rope to its subsequent elevation in her work as a medium of sculpture.
As part of MAD's POV series, Grossen has mined the Museum's permanent collection and brought her own rope sculptures together with a selection of work from MAD's unusual collection of baskets, as well as other work in fiber, wood, and metal. Privileging elemental methods of construction as a language of abstraction, Grossen's selections highlight an approach to contemporary sculpture that focuses on the artist's direct transformation of material and links it to a wider discussion about ways of making in the culture at large.
Françoise Grossen Selects, the first in the POV series to address the full MAD collection, is part of the second season of POV exhibitions, alongside Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful… in the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery.
Françoise Grossen Selects is organized by Windgate Research and Collections Curator Elissa Auther, with the support of Curatorial Assistant and Project Manager Sophia Merkin.
Support for Françoise Grossen Selects is generously provided by Michele and Marty Cohen, Blum & Poe, and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years
October 18, 2016 to March 15, 2017
Spanning the years 1953–1968, Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years is the first exhibition to focus on the early career of Peter Voulkos, whose radical methods and ideas during this period opened up the possibilities for clay in ways that are still being felt today.
While trained as a traditional potter, Voulkos defied mid-century craft dictums of proper technique and form to completely reinvent his medium. He combined wheel throwing with slab building, traditional glazes with epoxy paint, figuration with abstraction, and made huge ceramic structures with complex internal engineering. The exhibition will feature approximately 31 examples from this crucial body of early work, most of which have not been exhibited on the East Coast for four decades. Also included will be three of the artist's rarely seen works in oil on canvas, which help to demonstrate how Voulkos developed his ideas concurrently in painting, sculpture, and pottery.
Voulkos is a central figure in the history of MAD, featured in numerous exhibitions, including two monographic surveys, and an exemplar of the cross-disciplinary thinking that the Museum supports. Both the exhibition and accompanying scholarly catalogue will provide a detailed account of the breakthrough works from Voulkos' vital period of experimentation.
Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years is co-curated by Andrew Perchuk, Deputy Director of the Getty Research Institute, and Guest Curator Glenn Adamson, with Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford.
Major funding for Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Additional support is generously provided by Nanette L. Laitman, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Regina and Marlin Miller, Jun and Ree Kaneko, The Robert Lehman Foundation, Leatrice and Melvin Eagle, Dick and Gloria Anderson, Ted Rowland, the Knafel Family Foundation, and Jeffrey Spahn Gallery.
This research was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Inc.
Following its run at MAD, Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years will be on view at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, from April 7 through August 20, 2017.
Taking up the subject of gold (specifically jewelry and adornment) as representative of power, wealth, love, and sex, Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful…, created by visual artist and metalsmith Lauren Kalman, is MAD's second POV exhibition in the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery.
In reference to Austrian architect Adolf Loos' 1910 lecture "Ornament and Crime," in which he declared decoration regressive and fit only for degenerates and criminals (this included women and minorities), Kalman commits a "crime" by covering the inside and outside of MAD's jewelry cases with 2,000 gold-plated brass leaves. Loos' theories laid the groundwork for modernism, known for its spareness, rectilinearity, and rationality. In this installation, the upright white cases in the jewelry gallery stand in for Loos' modernism.
Kalman employs her gold-plated brass leaves as representative of the leaves of kudzu, an invasive vine species that engulfs, spreads, and creates new decorative forms wherever it thrives. Furthermore, similar to invasive kudzu, as guest curator and installation designer Kalman recontextualizes the jewelry gallery, MAD's historic collection, and other artists' practices in an act both beautiful and suffocating. The organic, gilded foliage overtakes the pristine gallery space and weaves in and around gold jewelry from MAD's collection, upending minimalism and austerity. Kalman highlights the relationship between decoration (gold) and female sexuality (another "crime") in her video work made specifically for the exhibition. Though decoration and femininity are still often marginalized in society, Kalman uses them as opportunities for deviance and protest.
MAD's POV series invites guests' perspectives on the Museum's permanent collection through the lens of their own practices. Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful… is organized by Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford.
Support for Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful… is generously provided by Michele and Marty Cohen, Rotasa Foundation, Susan and Larry Ach, Nancy and David Solomon, and Janet and John Winter.
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