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Fiber Artist Nick DeFord on the Supernatural, the DIY Movement, and Collecting Phrases

Posted April 26, 2016 in Blog

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Nick DeFord, “Bermuda Triangle”, 2015. Hand-sewn sequins on game board. Photo by Nick DeFord.

Don’t miss our Spring exhibitions before they close on May 8, 2016. Last week, Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch curator Hayley McSwain interviewed fiber artist Nick DeFord. Read his responses below to learn more about his interest in the unknown, his collecting habits, and how he creates his work.

Hayley McSwain: Your work often involves the supernatural and the unknown. What sparked your interest in these themes?

Nick DeFord: I’ve been interested in the strange and supernatural as far back as my childhood.  I grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries and Scooby Doo. I hid my eyes during the alien scenes of Mysteries, and was always thoroughly disappointed when the monsters in Scooby Doo turned out to be cranky old men in masks. I mean, just once couldn’t they have stumbled on to an actual paranormal experience?  I watched the X-Files premiere because I was so excited about the show.  The weird part is not that I continue to be fascinated in these topics: its that it took me so long to realize that I could make art about them.  My epiphany as an artist was, “Oh, I can make art about things I find interesting?Continue Reading »

Niki Johnson on Forging a Career as an Independent Curator and Artist

Posted March 31, 2016 in Blog

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Niki Johnson, God & Country,” 2012. Altered commemorative plates. Photo by Scott Cartwright.

For Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists with #5womenartists, a social media campaign asking the question “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” The following blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries.  To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.

This week, we asked At Your Service artist-curator, Niki Johnson, a few questions about her career and influences.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft: As an artist and curator, what challenges do you face in your professional practice? Are there any contemporary issues that you identify with and address in your work? 

Niki Johnson: Like most artist-curators, the greatest challenge I face is finding financial support for my projects. When curating, money buys not only the time required to handle the logistical side of setting up exhibitions, but also for their promotion, catalogue development and sometimes gallery rental fees. Locating funding requires a type of creativity and level of community outreach that at first I didn’t realize would be so important to the overall feel of each show. How an exhibition is funded affects every aspect of its appeal. This makes sense, as each exhibition is reliant on the community involved in its building, programming and viewing. Up to this point, I’ve had success with online crowd funding, institutional sponsorships, personal donations, exhibition merchandise sale and occasionally honorariums. While at times, it can be daunting to find funding, it can be done! Continue Reading »

Ceramic Artist Caroline Slotte on Her Sandblasting Process & Ascribed Memory in Her Work

Posted March 30, 2016 in Blog

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Caroline Slotte, plate from the “Tracing” series, 2015. Reworked second-hand ceramics. Photo by Caroline Slotte.

As part of the social media campaign “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” this blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists for Women’s History Month. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.

This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked At Your Service artist, Caroline Slotte, a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work.

Sarah Darro: Memories are formed and cemented, reinforcing neural pathways in our brains through repetition. Likewise, through recurring strokes, your Tracing Series transforms the decorative patterns of antique plates into intricate three-dimensional reliefs. Could you explain your process and how it relates to this physiological occurrence in the brain?

Caroline Slotte:  A recurring theme in my work concerns the interpretation of visual information – how for instance a detail that is difficult to read, a bearer of information that can only barely be decoded, has the capacity to attract the gaze and captivate attention. I frequently employ techniques of reduction and removal and have often been surprised by how little visual information that is needed in order to suggest a connection or a pictorial reference. The risk of a work becoming over-explicit in its expression is far greater than the risk of visual allusions being too subtle. Continue Reading »

Sondra Sherman on Her Artistic Influences & Social Conventions in Jewelry

Posted March 25, 2016 in Blog

Sondra Sherman, “Listen the Wind Necklace,” 2010. Sterling silver (hollow construction). Photo courtesy of Sienna Patti Contemporary.

Sondra Sherman, “Listen the Wind Necklace,” 2010. Sterling silver (hollow construction). Photo courtesy of Sienna Patti Contemporary.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Can You Name Five women Artists?,” a social media campaign to raise awareness of women artists. This is our third blog entry about a female artist currently exhibiting in our galleries. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.

This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Sondra Sherman, whose work is currently displayed in the solo exhibition Found Subjects, a few questions about her work and influences.

Sarah Darro: Be it adding pinstripes to a string of pearls or replacing the diamond of an engagement ring with an industrial tool, like a circular level, much of your work explores, and often subverts, archetypes in jewelry of gender and romance. Do you believe that there is a responsibility for jewelers to respond to social issues and/or be conscious of the gender stereotypes within jewelry and metalsmithing itself?

Sondra Sherman: I do not think there is a responsibility for jewelers to respond to social issues. I don’t believe in rules for creative production. I also find a noble social cause is sometimes used to justify lazy visual art.

I do think there are opportunities for jewelers to respond to social issues in the distinctive language and context of jewelry which are particularly potent because of its traditional symbolism, social roles, and the context of the body or wearer. Continue Reading »

Artist and Independent Curator Amelia Toelke on Recontextualizing Tradition & Female Role Models

Posted March 18, 2016 in Blog

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Amelia Toelke, “Light & Shadow, Part I” (detail), 2012. Photo by Jim Escalante.

Have you been following #5womenartists? In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts in a social media campaign to raise awareness of women artists. This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Amelia Toelke, the co-curator and featured artist of At Your Service, a few questions about her work and influences.

Sarah Darro: You have worked within numerous traditionally bounded disciplines of fine art and craft (jewelry, metalsmithing, sculpture, ceramics); how have you been able to transcend these institutional distinctions and how has that influenced your work?

Amelia Toelke: I studied metalsmithing and jewelry as an undergraduate and this training continues to influence the way I approach each project I undertake. Jewelers are trained to think about every detail—with the back of a pin being just as important as the front, for example. We study the long history of functional and decorative objects and embrace their inherent qualities and imbued meanings. Continue Reading »

Five Women Artists Working in Metals, Ceramics, and Glass

Posted March 12, 2016 in Blog

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Kat Cole, “Boulder Necklace.” Mixed Media. Photo courtesy of the artist.

As part of the #5womenartists campaign, this week we bring you five talented women artists working in traditional craft media. This group of female artists is special because they are represented by Asher Gallery at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC). Continue Reading »

Artist and Ceramic Restorer Debra Broz on Gender, Craft Traditions & Her Own Art Practice

Posted March 4, 2016 in Blog

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In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists. As mentioned here, this March, we will highlight five women artists working in traditional craft media that are currently exhibiting at HCCC.

This week, HCCC’s Hayley McSwain asked mixed-media artist and ceramic restorer, Debra Broz, currently featured in Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch, a few questions about her work and influences. Continue Reading »

Hearts for Art Project

Posted March 3, 2016 in Blog

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On Valentine’s Day week HCCC participated in Hearts for Art 2016, an event that invited museum visitors to show their love for a favorite piece of contemporary craft by placing a paper heart on the floor in front of their artwork crush. Continue Reading »

Can You Name Five Women Artists?

Posted March 1, 2016 in Blog

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The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating great women artists, has announced a new social media campaign for this March’s Women’s History Month and has invited Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) and other museums across the nation to participate with them in this campaign. If someone is asked to name five artists, they will likely name prominent male artists, but how many people can list five women artists? To increase awareness, on March 1, NMWA will launch the campaign, “Can you name five women artists?,” on its website and blog as well as on social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using the hashtag #5womenartists, the campaign will encourage online communities to help address the gender imbalance in the presentation of art both in the United States and internationally. Continue Reading »

Call for Resident Artists! Apply to Artist Residency Program at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Posted February 24, 2016 in Blog

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Each year, more than 80 artists from all over the United States apply to the Artist Residency Program at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC). The program supports emerging, mid-career, and established artists working in traditional craft media, including clay, fiber, glass, metal, mixed media, and wood. Each residency ranges between 3 and 12 months in length, and includes a monthly stipend and housing/materials allowance. Continue Reading »

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