We asked HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Kathryn Hall, to give us her thoughts on the current exhibition, In Residence: Work by 2013 Resident Artists, on view now through December 19, 2014.
Looking back at the Artist Residency Program at HCCC, it’s clear to see that female artists make up the majority of participants (about 80 women in comparison to only 26 men). What kind of message do you believe this conveys to the public in regards to women working in the arts?
Historically, women have played an active role in the field of craft through their own handiwork, as well as their patronage. Considering the residency program’s competitive application process, the numbers you cite emphasize the fact that women continue to be successful contributors to the craft community. This also demonstrates that there is no craft medium exclusive to one gender or another. Our resident artists go against the grain of traditional gender roles.
What sets the work of the 2013 residents apart from what we’ve seen in past In Residence exhibitions?
The work in this year’s exhibition is particularly representative of each resident artist’s residency experience. Caitie Sellers’ Highway series filters the undulating lines of Houston’s surrounding highways into her jewelry. Demitra Thomloudis’ Houston Yellow Tape Project presents memento mori necklaces and brooches made from remnants of homes that have recently been torn down in Demitra’s neighborhood. In Activity L, Delaney Smith references her studio time specifically, by inviting visitors to share in her creative process through their interaction with her work.
What questions and ideas are you trying to explore with this year’s In Residence exhibition? Do you think the art itself provides answers and insights to these ideas/questions?
This exhibition has two different thematic threads. A portion of the exhibition is rooted in narrative—artifacts of the past–while the other half is devoted to an expressive visual language of form, line, and color. Christina Carfora’s Invasion of a New Environment is a characterization of Carfora through her lived experience as a traveler. In comparison, Grace Zuniga and Lauren Salazar’s fiber art pieces focus on formal qualities. Both artists reference Modernism, while also utilizing fiber as a vehicle to create weight and tension in their geometric compositions. For them, the composition and canvas become one to move beyond the limitations of 2D, transcending the barriers of the frame.
Is there a stand-out artist or piece for you in this show? What makes the artist/piece exceptional to you?
This is a hard question, as I value every work in the exhibition for very different reasons. That being said, I am really struck by Lauren Salazar’s Grid Overflow. It is an exceptional piece of craftsmanship, and I am energized by Lauren’s investigation of the formal constructs of painting in her fiber work.
How do you make the decision about which items will clearly represent each artist as an individual (with specific strengths and style in mind), while ensuring a composed and cohesive show?
For this exhibition, the selection process requires a collaborative effort between the curator and artist. Before I select work, I like to schedule studio visits with each artist. This allows me to see the work in person and also have an informal conversation with the artist. I think it is important to showcase a work that the artist identifies as an accomplishment during their HCCC residency. Of course, I may encourage an artist to think about their work in a certain way or I may point out a particular work that interests me. In some instances, an artist may have a body of work that came out of their experience at HCCC. While the work may not have been completed during their residency, I believe it is just as important to acknowledge an idea that was born out of the residency experience.
What do you think makes a show like In Residence, as well as the HCCC Artist Residency Program, important to the Houston arts community?
HCCC’s Artist Residency Program keeps a pulse on what is happening nationally within the field. The annual In Residence exhibition is exemplary of the current innovations within craft media, as it celebrates the craftsmanship of HCCC’s resident artists. Having developed a good reputation, the program draws in artists from all over the country, bringing fresh and new perspectives to the Houston arts community. On the flip side, the Houston community provides our resident artists with the exposure they need to build their career. HCCC alumni remain an active part of Houston’s arts community, as they continue to teach at local colleges, conduct workshops, and are members of Houston’s artist guilds.