CraftTexas 2018 Award of Merit Winners
CraftTexas 2018 Juror’s Statement by Jennifer Scanlan
It was exciting and revelatory to jury CraftTexas 2018, much more than I had anticipated. Because of the large number of exceptional works, I had some difficult decisions to make. I decided to focus on artists who are taking the ideas behind craft and moving them forward in new directions.
Many of the works that I juried into the exhibition presented materials in innovative ways. Clay and fiber, used by humans for millennia, were revealed with unexpected textures and shapes. Others incorporated materials that were new or unusual in a craft context, such as rice husk fiber and Styrofoam. While craft is often associated with tradition and the past, these artists remind us that creative material exploration is often the impetus for technological advances.
I was fascinated by artists who took processes associated with craft and turned them inside out. Can you make an object that is “anti-making?” Can something be handmade and partially also bird-made? Or what if it is completely about the most visceral aspect of craft: the human touch? Far from questioning the relevance of traditional methods of making, these interrogations reaffirmed the rich source of inspiration that craft processes continue to provide.
We are living in a moment of political expression in the arts, and political statements have been entwined with the history of craft beginning with the Arts and Crafts Movement in the 19th century. So it was not surprising to see a number of works engaging in political discourse. I was especially pleased to see a diversity of voices and perspectives that have not always been a part of mainstream contemporary craft.
And, finally, I included some works of gorgeous, masterful craftsmanship. Nothing can surpass the sense of wonder that is inspired by an object made with consummate skill and an eye for harmony. I would like to thank the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and all of the artists who submitted for offering me new ideas and moments of great beauty, along with the certainty that contemporary craft is alive and more relevant than ever in Texas.
–Jennifer Scanlan, Curatorial and Exhibitions Director, Oklahoma Contemporary