Craft Spoken Here / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
May 5 - August 12, 2012
Crafts were prominent among the first works of art to enter the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art when it was founded in 1876, and the Museum has continued to collect and exhibit crafts. Today, thanks in large part to the Women’s Committee and gifts from individuals, the Museum is particularly well-known for its holdings of twentieth-and twenty-first-century American, European, and Asian craft.
With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum seizes the opportunity to experiment with its collection and to understand craft in an international context. Some forty contemporary works from 1960 to the present in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber—some by living, acclaimed artists and others by lesser-known creators—are on view. Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, the works highlight formal qualities that cross cultures, time, and media.
Craft Spoken Here features an array of engaging education programs and interpretive materials, including on-site artist demonstrations and hands-on craftmaking activities for the public.
The exhibition is divided into three sections. Essential Element looks at continuing importance of line—the graphic gesture—as an expressive and compositional element in the work of artists. Rebecca Medel’s The One (1985) uses a network of lines to form a dense cube of knotted cotton and linen threads, dark on its fringes and progressively lighter towards the center, which creates the illusion of a luminous sphere floating in an atmospheric haze. The second section, Shape Shifting, includes works in clay, glass, wood, metal, paper, and fiber materials that have been fashioned into sculptural forms. Motoko Maio’s Kotodama (2008) is a folding screen in silk and linen that can be adjusted to divide a room, provide privacy, or rest decoratively in a corner. The final section is Gesture, which includes works that offer visual and emotional cues, such as the chaotic, seemingly uncontrollable framework of Jessica Jane Julius’s Static (c. 2008), in which hundreds of black glass flameworked threads combine in a sculptural evocation of the artist’s reoccurring dream.
Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts
The exhibition is made possible by The Leonard and Norma Klorfine Foundation Fund for Modern and Contemporary Craft. Additional support is provided by the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In-kind support is provided courtesy of Lion Brand Yarn.