Guest blog post by Sarah Darro, Curatorial Fellow, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Crafted objects have complex life histories. From their inception to their ultimate decay, the skilled transformation of raw materials into products that are appreciated, used and broken down plays out on a universal scale. Both artisanal food and craft objects embody generations of tradition, specialized knowledge, artistry, and attention to process and material. BEST IF USED BY, on view at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft this fall, questions why we conceive of the worlds of craft and artisanal food separately and enacts the implications of bringing temporal objects into the gallery space.
The materiality of fiber and the history of textiles are tied to the themes explored by BEST IF USED BY in a number of ways. From the ever-changing cultural and market value of textiles led by the fashion industry to the temporal nature of both textiles and food as artifacts of human history, several of the artists in this show explore these themes through textile processes and fiber.
Aurélie Mathigot, a Paris-based fiber artist featured in BEST IF USED BY, creates crocheted installation works that suspend time and cast moments of everyday life in a new materiality. Through crochet, she is able to sculpt in wool, building up three-dimensional forms with each stitch. Rendering meals and place settings in fiber, she captures the temporary state of food and the communal moments garnered by sharing a meal. Mathigot conceives of her linked stitches as commentary on the omnipresence of consumerism in contemporary culture, her fibers enchaining physical objects as consumerism enchains us.
Kazuki Guzmán’s work embraces the instability of organic materials. In this exhibition, he presents Vuitton Nana, a banana he needle worked with the logo of Louis Vuitton, the illustrious high-fashion brand. The oxidation of the banana’s skin being punctured creates the effect of embroidery without thread. As a commentary on high fashion branding and associated cultural value, Guzmán’s work beckons the viewer to consider the value of the object, which breaks down over time with physical decay.
In the history of material culture and archaeology, textiles and food have been vulnerable to the effects of time. The temporal qualities of these mediums make them particularly potent as modes of inquiry in this exhibition. “Consumption,” a term that is associated with the food industry, transience, and cultural capital, is the framework for BEST IF USED BY and a launching point for discourse about the interconnected nature of food and craft. The intention in bringing together a selection of work that exists on a spectrum of temporality is to allow for an exploration of the significance of the ephemeral in a field largely rooted in tangibility.