Keeping up with current events, it was impossible to miss the millions who participated in the Women’s March on Washington D.C. and the sister marches organized around the globe. Also impossible to ignore was the role that craft played in the community building and optics of the historic protests through a march partner organization, the Pussyhat Project. Organized and spread online and through social media, the Pussyhat Project sought to create a unique visual statement for the march–both creating a field of pink that united individual protesters and offering a way to participate and support by those who could not physically join in the march but volunteered to knit and crochet hats. Continue Reading »
Garth Johnson on Cross-Cultural Translation, Communing with Secondhand Objects & Generational Shifts in Craft Culture
Garth Johnson,”Making Legends into Posters” from the “Proverb Plate Series,” 2010. Sand-blasted found porcelain plate with silver PVD coating. Photo courtesy of artist.
This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Garth Johnson, Curator of Ceramics at Arizona State University’s Art Museum and Ceramics Research Center and At Your Service artist, questions about his artistic process, his relationship with collecting and craft culture for young audiences.
Sarah Darro: How have you navigated your many roles within the field of craft? As a ceramicist, writer, curator, and professor—is there a position that you identify with most?
Garth Johnson: I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. I was surrounded by handmade things, and making was definitely central to my childhood. I grew up making, then entered college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an art student because art was what I was generally good at. I should add that I have hands that are very un-talented. I’m not somebody who can pick up a tool or a material and master it easily. I’ve always felt that this was an asset as an educator—I can identify with people who have many different learning styles. The “slippage” between my brain and my hands is what led me to become a writer and curator.
These days, I identify mainly as a curator. It’s a good thing that there generally isn’t a singular path for curators to embark on—it’s a field that values experience over academic achievement. Continue Reading »
Nick DeFord, “Bermuda Triangle”, 2015. Hand-sewn sequins on game board. Photo by Nick DeFord.
Don’t miss our Spring exhibitions before they close on May 8, 2016. Last week, Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch curator Hayley McSwain interviewed fiber artist Nick DeFord. Read his responses below to learn more about his interest in the unknown, his collecting habits, and how he creates his work.
Hayley McSwain: Your work often involves the supernatural and the unknown. What sparked your interest in these themes?
Nick DeFord: I’ve been interested in the strange and supernatural as far back as my childhood. I grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries and Scooby Doo. I hid my eyes during the alien scenes of Mysteries, and was always thoroughly disappointed when the monsters in Scooby Doo turned out to be cranky old men in masks. I mean, just once couldn’t they have stumbled on to an actual paranormal experience? I watched the X-Files premiere because I was so excited about the show. The weird part is not that I continue to be fascinated in these topics: its that it took me so long to realize that I could make art about them. My epiphany as an artist was, “Oh, I can make art about things I find interesting?” Continue Reading »
Niki Johnson, “God & Country,” 2012. Altered commemorative plates. Photo by Scott Cartwright.
For Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists with #5womenartists, a social media campaign asking the question “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” The following blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.
This week, we asked At Your Service artist-curator, Niki Johnson, a few questions about her career and influences.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft: As an artist and curator, what challenges do you face in your professional practice? Are there any contemporary issues that you identify with and address in your work?
Niki Johnson: Like most artist-curators, the greatest challenge I face is finding financial support for my projects. When curating, money buys not only the time required to handle the logistical side of setting up exhibitions, but also for their promotion, catalogue development and sometimes gallery rental fees. Locating funding requires a type of creativity and level of community outreach that at first I didn’t realize would be so important to the overall feel of each show. How an exhibition is funded affects every aspect of its appeal. This makes sense, as each exhibition is reliant on the community involved in its building, programming and viewing. Up to this point, I’ve had success with online crowd funding, institutional sponsorships, personal donations, exhibition merchandise sale and occasionally honorariums. While at times, it can be daunting to find funding, it can be done! Continue Reading »
Caroline Slotte, plate from the “Tracing” series, 2015. Reworked second-hand ceramics. Photo by Caroline Slotte.
As part of the social media campaign “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” this blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists for Women’s History Month. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.
This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked At Your Service artist, Caroline Slotte, a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work.
Sarah Darro: Memories are formed and cemented, reinforcing neural pathways in our brains through repetition. Likewise, through recurring strokes, your Tracing Series transforms the decorative patterns of antique plates into intricate three-dimensional reliefs. Could you explain your process and how it relates to this physiological occurrence in the brain?
Caroline Slotte: A recurring theme in my work concerns the interpretation of visual information – how for instance a detail that is difficult to read, a bearer of information that can only barely be decoded, has the capacity to attract the gaze and captivate attention. I frequently employ techniques of reduction and removal and have often been surprised by how little visual information that is needed in order to suggest a connection or a pictorial reference. The risk of a work becoming over-explicit in its expression is far greater than the risk of visual allusions being too subtle. Continue Reading »
Sondra Sherman, “Listen the Wind Necklace,” 2010. Sterling silver (hollow construction). Photo courtesy of Sienna Patti Contemporary.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts in “Can You Name Five women Artists?,” a social media campaign to raise awareness of women artists. This is our third blog entry about a female artist currently exhibiting in our galleries. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.
This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Sondra Sherman, whose work is currently displayed in the solo exhibition Found Subjects, a few questions about her work and influences.
Sarah Darro: Be it adding pinstripes to a string of pearls or replacing the diamond of an engagement ring with an industrial tool, like a circular level, much of your work explores, and often subverts, archetypes in jewelry of gender and romance. Do you believe that there is a responsibility for jewelers to respond to social issues and/or be conscious of the gender stereotypes within jewelry and metalsmithing itself?
Sondra Sherman: I do not think there is a responsibility for jewelers to respond to social issues. I don’t believe in rules for creative production. I also find a noble social cause is sometimes used to justify lazy visual art.
I do think there are opportunities for jewelers to respond to social issues in the distinctive language and context of jewelry which are particularly potent because of its traditional symbolism, social roles, and the context of the body or wearer. Continue Reading »
Amelia Toelke, “Light & Shadow, Part I” (detail), 2012. Photo by Jim Escalante.
Have you been following #5womenartists? In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts in a social media campaign to raise awareness of women artists. This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Amelia Toelke, the co-curator and featured artist of At Your Service, a few questions about her work and influences.
Sarah Darro: You have worked within numerous traditionally bounded disciplines of fine art and craft (jewelry, metalsmithing, sculpture, ceramics); how have you been able to transcend these institutional distinctions and how has that influenced your work?
Amelia Toelke: I studied metalsmithing and jewelry as an undergraduate and this training continues to influence the way I approach each project I undertake. Jewelers are trained to think about every detail—with the back of a pin being just as important as the front, for example. We study the long history of functional and decorative objects and embrace their inherent qualities and imbued meanings. Continue Reading »
Kat Cole, “Boulder Necklace.” Mixed Media. Photo courtesy of the artist.
As part of the #5womenartists campaign, this week we bring you five talented women artists working in traditional craft media. This group of female artists is special because they are represented by Asher Gallery at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC). Continue Reading »
In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists. As mentioned here, this March, we will highlight five women artists working in traditional craft media that are currently exhibiting at HCCC.
This week, HCCC’s Hayley McSwain asked mixed-media artist and ceramic restorer, Debra Broz, currently featured in Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch, a few questions about her work and influences. Continue Reading »