Crafting a Continuum:
Rethinking Contemporary Craft

Posted March 2, 2015 in Press Releases

Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft
May 29 – August 29, 2015
Front and Main Galleries
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
4848 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002

Opening Reception
Friday, May 29, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
The evening will also feature open studios by HCCC’s current resident artists.

Related Programming
Lecture and Workshop by Ceramic Artist Del Harrow
Date TBD

Lecture by Betsy Greer, Author of
Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism
Saturday, August 29, 2 PM

Hours & Admission
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM.
Closed Easter Sunday (April 5th), July 4th, and Sundays, July 5th – Labor Day.
Admission is free.

(HOUSTON, TX) March 3, 2015 — Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to host Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft, an exhibition organized by the Arizona State University (ASU) Art Museum and Ceramics Research Center in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Highlighting the Museum’s extensive holdings in craft objects made from wood, ceramic, and fiber, the exhibition provides a national and international perspective on modern and contemporary craft and the current level of innovation and experimentation in material studies.

HCCC Curator, Elizabeth Kozlowski, was an assistant curator of the exhibition when she worked as the Windgate Curatorial Fellow at ASU Art Museum in 2013. Kozlowski says that Crafting a Continuum presents the work of pioneering artists of the studio-craft movement—a group that was pivotal in building and maintaining craft programs in higher education institutions around the country—and those generations of artists that have followed. Both of these groups are the driving force behind the model of “rethinking craft.” “The newer artists have built upon the knowledge of their predecessors but have a different approach to craft and care little about how their work is classified. They are pushing boundaries of materials and experimenting with technology, yet remain utterly convinced by the power of the handmade object.”

Pioneering artists in the exhibition include Dorothy Gill Barnes, Ed Moulthrop, and Peter Voulkos. Coiled Banyan (1988) is a representation of Dorothy Gill Barnes’ signature style and approach to basketry and sculptural forms. This wide-mouthed basket, woven with bark and branches from a banyan tree, is formal in approach, and, yet, its materials are pushed to the limit through an expanded scale. While her forms may vary, Barnes’ relationship to nature remains steadfast. With a career that spans six decades, the artist marries
art and nature by harvesting materials from her local environment and using forms inspired by nature that retain a sense of place. Peter Voulkos’ Ceramic Pot (Steel Pot) (1968) is a work that hints at what is to come many years later in the field of contemporary ceramic art. With slashes in the clay body dancing across the surface, the stacked form is on the verge of being torn apart and ripped away from any recognizable attributes of functionality. Voulkos was adept at translating the ideals of abstract expressionism into the language of ceramics, and his work continues to influence myriad ceramic artists today.

Contemporary artists represented in the exhibition include Sonya Clark, Mark Newport, Matthias Pliessnig, Anders Ruhwald, and Alison Elizabeth Taylor. Inspired by many of the earlier artists mentioned, this group routinely pushes the boundaries of their work through materials or content by commenting on social issues, integrating technology into their processes and experimenting with trans-disciplinary work. Artist and educator Sonya Clark explores race, culture, class and identity in Thread Wrapped in Blue and Brown, a work from her Comb series, made in 2008. Black plastic combs and metallic thread form the shadow of African cloth, or the remnants of the American flag, in order to comment on the complexities of being black in the 21st century. Matthias Pliessnig implements computer technology, craftsmanship and design into his sculptural furniture. He uses traditional steam-bent wood to transform his digital models into physical reality. His piece Brace (2012) is constructed using white oak and hand-formed copper rivets, which cover the surface of his curvaceous and inviting take on formal seating.

Works by international artists add another dimension to the show by demonstrating current trends, including a playful irreverence used by many European artists. Danish female collaborative Claydies (Karin Kjældgård-Larsen and Tine Broksø) apply both a sense of humor and an element of seriousness to their practice. In True Feelings (2011), the artists blindfolded themselves to create a hand-built ceramic tea set, a formal dining element loaded with historical references to class and status. Swedish ceramic artist Karin Karinson Nilsson, a student of “sloppy craft,” utilizes numerous firings in an effort to capture a sense of motion and chaos. Her ceramic glazes and glass components flow across the surface of This Was Not a Sneak Attack (2012), a colorful piece that combines various kitschy ceramic objects.

Crafting a Continuum was curated by ASU’s Associate Director and Senior Curator Heather Sealy Lineberry and its former Curator of Ceramics, Peter Held, with assistance from former Windgate Curatorial Fellow Elizabeth Kozlowski (now Curator at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft). The exhibition was made possible with generous support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The full-color catalog that accompanies the show is approximately 192 pages, with a series of essays and brief perspectives dedicated to the existence of craft within a critical context, a comprehensive bibliography, artists’ biographies, and an index. The catalog will be sold in HCCC’s Asher Gallery.

About Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is a nonprofit arts organization founded to advance education about the process, product and history of craft. HCCC serves as an important cultural and educational resource for Houston and the Southwest—one of the few venues in the country dedicated exclusively to craft at the highest level. The organization provides exhibition, sales and studio spaces to support the work of local and national artists and offers mission-related educational programs in schools and underserved communities. Visitors enjoy viewing innovative exhibitions, visiting artist studios, strolling through the Craft Garden, creating their own crafts in monthly HANDS-ON HOUSTON events, and shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts and home
décor in the Asher Gallery.

Located in the Museum District at 4848 Main Street, HCCC is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM. Spring/Summer Hours: Closed Easter Sunday (April 5th), July 4th, and on Sundays, July 5th – Labor Day. Admission is free. Free parking is available directly behind the facility, off Rosedale and Travis Street. HCCC is three blocks south of Wheeler Ave. MetroRail station on Main Street.

HCCC is funded in part by grants from The Brown Foundation; Houston Endowment, Inc.; Texas Commission on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Kinder Foundation; the Morgan Foundation; Windgate Charitable Foundation; and the Wortham Foundation.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is funded by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and is a participant of the Capacity Building Initiative.

For more information, call 713.529.4848 or visit Follow HCCC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @CraftHouston.