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Object Focus: The Bowl / Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

Object Focus: The Bowl at Museum of Contemporary Craft Portland

Object Focus: The Bowl / Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland
March 7 - September 21, 2013

Curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers

The Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) opens the second exhibition in its Object Focus series, Object Focus: The Bowl, on March 7, 2013. This two-part exhibition, featuring nearly 200 bowls, focuses attention on the most commonplace of objects, asking us to consider the ubiquitous bowl in new ways. As artist and PNCA professor M.K. Guth has pointed out, the history of the bowl is the history of civilization. Yet because it holds our cereal, our soup, our tea, our spare change, it becomes so familiar as to be overlooked. Through a variety of engaging activities, Object Focus: The Bowl invites the viewer to connect the work on display in the Museum with the bowl in his or her everyday life. The bowls on view range from the functional to the decorative, industrially produced to handmade, and span the globe geographically and culturally.

Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Common Things, Andrea Zittel’s A-Z Container, and conversations with artists, craftspeople, and designers about how they consider this archetypal form in their own work, inspired the thinking around this exhibition. Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum London, has written in The Language of Things that everyday objects like the table, chair, and lamp have been pulled into the realm of Design to become the Noguchi Table, Eames Chair, and Ingo Maurer Lamp. The bowl, perhaps too commonplace and familiar, has stubbornly refused to be co-opted in this way. 

To invite a deeper consideration of the bowl, Object Focus: The Bowl will feature a number of participatory projects in the Museum and in the community, many of which engage the public in collaboration.

In Part One: Reflect + Respond, March 7-August 3, 2013, Director and Chief Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers has kick-started this process by inviting anthropologists, artists, poets, novelists, curators, and more to write 500 words on a bowl of their choosing from the exhibition. This is only the beginning. Throughout the exhibition, the Museum invites viewers to write their own 500-word pieces on the bowl in an effort to gather 50,000 words by August, 2013. 50,000 words is the average length of a novel, according to the popular National Novel Writing Month project. All contributions will be made available online at www.objectfocusbowl.tumblr.com

There will also be a drawing station in the Museum. Students from PNCA’s BFA in Illustration program will be contributing works on the bowl, and visitors are invited to contribute drawings to the exhibition as well.

The second part of the exhibition, Part Two: Engage + Use, May 16-September 21, 2013, explores the social role of the bowl through artist projects, performances, a symposium, through contributions by the region’s chefs and a project in partnership with Portland restaurants.

Ayumi Horie will create a bowl lending library that will allow visitors to handle handcrafted bowls in the museum and borrow objects to be used at home. For his project, Bowls Around Town, Michael Strand has created traveling trunks that contain a ceramic bowl, digital camera, and recipe book to circulate among some of Portland’s communities that come together around mealtimes. Area chefs, cookbook authors, bakers, and candymakers will make bowl selections and offer recipes at the Chefs’ Table. In addition, there will be a reprisal of Transference by Andy Paiko and Ethan Rose, as well as a series of performances by Craft Mystery Cult. Finally, there will be a symposium on Craft and Social Practice featuring some of the artists featured in Object Focus: The Bowl, planned in conjunction with Portland State University’s Open Engagement Conference.

Museum of Contemporary Craft is partnering with organizations and businesses throughout Portland for programming around Object Focus: The Bowl. Strand’s project is in collaboration with Portland Fire and Rescue, Kitchen Commons, and Project Grow. Recalling the Museum’s Souper Supper community craft dinners, the Museum is partnering with local restaurants including Irving Street Kitchen, Hotlips Pizza, and Park Kitchen, to feature seasonal menu items served handcrafted bowls.

Part One: Reflect + Respond, March 7-August 3, 2013
The first part of the exhibition pairs bowls from the Museum’s collection and local collectors with short narratives written by chefs, anthropologists, poets, critics, makers, and curators.

Part Two: Engage + Use, May 16-September 21, 2013
The second part of the exhibition explores the social role of bowls through the contemporary project-based work of Michael Strand, Ayumi Horie, and the Craft Mystery Cult.

Exhibition sponsors: The Robert Lehman Foundation, RACC and Work for Art, Nani Warren, Mary & Brot Bishop.

Museum of Contemporary Craft
Committed to the advancement of craft since 1937, Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art is one of Oregon’s oldest cultural institutions. Centrally located in Portland’s Pearl District, the Museum is nationally acclaimed for its curatorial program and is a vibrant center for investigation and dialogue, expanding the definition of craft and the way audiences experience it.

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
As Oregon’s flagship college of art and design since 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art has helped shape Oregon’s visual arts landscape for more than a century. PNCA students study with award-winning faculty in small classes. In the last seven years, PNCA has doubled both the student body and full-time faculty, quadrupled its endowment, and added innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. PNCA is now embarking on its boldest venture yet by establishing the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design as an anchor for the College’s vision of a new campus home on Portland’s North Park Blocks. Focusing on the transformative power of creativity, the capital campaign, Creativity Works Here, was launched in June 2012 with a lead gift from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation of $5 million. PNCA’s new home will be a bustling hub for creativity and entrepreneurship, reflecting the influential role of art and design in our 21st century economy - both in Portland and beyond.

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 6 pm. First Thursdays, 11 am – 8 pm.

Lisa Radon, Communications Specialist
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Tel. 971 255 5528
General Info Tel. 503 223 2654

Museum of Contemporary Craft
in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art
724 Northwest Davis Street
Portland, OR 97209
United States

Above: Lucie Rie, Untitled small brown bowl, c. 1950, Ceramic, 2 x 4 inches diameter. Promised gift from Carol and Seymour Haber to the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Photo by Dan Kvitka.

> More exhibitions (view list)

  • 4 Mar 2013
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  • Bowl
  • Object focus ceramic bowl
  • Namita Gupta Wiggers
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Andrea Zittel
  • Ayumi Horie
  • Museum of Contemporary Craft
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art
  • Exhibitions
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