Expect the Unexpected: Clever Summer Exhibits Surprise and Amuse at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Posted June 22, 2009 in Press Releases

This summer, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) presents two exhibitions that challenge the traditional uses of wood, textiles and other materials, while celebrating the subversive and unexpected. Challenge VII: dysFUNctional and Unknitting: Challenging Textile Traditions will be on view July 18 – September 13, 2009.HCCC Curator of Fine Craft, Gwynne Rukenbrod, commented, “These two exhibitions showcase contemporary artists who are using traditional techniques to convey subversive or unexpected ideas. Both illustrate new and somewhat rebellious approaches to contemporary craft. HCCC is pleased to bring Houston some of the more offbeat and forward-thinking work on the national and international craft scenes.”
Challenge VII: dysFUNctional (in the Large Gallery)

On tour from The Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, PA, Challenge VII: dysFUNctional showcases contemporary wood art, sculpture, photos, installation art, and videos that subvert and satirize function. Artists from all over the world were asked to explore and interpret ideas of function and dysfunction in this dynamic juried show. The call for artists encouraged the submission of lathe-turned wood objects, as well as work that incorporated other processes alluding to wood turning, and work that was offbeat, amusing and surprising.

Thirty-three works by 30 artists from Australia, Canada, England, France, Italy and the United States were selected. The artists filmed, glued, laminated, layered, nailed, notched, photographed, and sewed wood and other materials with amazing results. The works presented in Challenge VII evoke a sense of humor, fun, curiosity and suspicion—ranging from a prickly chair to a set of dinosaur-like spoons and many other imaginative creations.

Accompanying the exhibition is a full-color catalog that includes an artist statement and commentary for each of the works. In addition, the book offers an interactive guide for students and others to further explore the ideas presented in the exhibition. Challenge VII is the seventh in a series of exhibits that challenges artists to free themselves to create the piece of unique and unexpected work that they never take time to make. Challenge VII was organized by the Wood Turning Center of Philadelphia and juried by Cecil Baker, Marsha Moss, Richard Torchia and Ricardo Viera.

Unknitting: Challenging Textile Traditions (in the Small Gallery)

Unknitting: Challenging Textile Traditions focuses on performative knitting practice in the creation of avant-garde art. (Performative knitting refers to interactive experiences in which an artist may knit in public, on the street, or as a part of some other art performance—frequently making social or political statements.) The invitational exhibition highlights the work of four artists who are advancing and questioning established textile traditions: Adrian Esparza, from El Paso, Texas; Rachel Gomme, from London, England; Mark Newport, from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and Sandra Valenzuela, from New York City, New York. By addressing stereotypes of gender and challenging the domestic-based, utilitarian objects that are typical of the knitted crafts, the work of these artists completely upends tradition.

Unknitting was curated by Kate Bonansinga, Director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, University of Texas at El Paso; and Dr. Stephanie L. Taylor, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at New Mexico State University. The exhibition was organized by the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso and is funded in part by Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, and Patricia Hewitt Silence Memorial Fund.

Opening Weekend Events (Free and Open to the Public) Opening Reception
Friday, July 17, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Gallery Talk by Rachel Gomme: Saturday, July 18, 2:00 PM
Rachel Gomme is one of the four artists featured in Unknitting.

Mary Headrick (mheadrick@crafthouston.org)
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
713.529.4848 x 107