After Memphis: Crafted Postmodern
October 13, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
4848 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002
Opening Day Lecture
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 3:00-4:00 PM
“Postmodernism & Radical Design” with Cindi Strauss, Curator and Director of Decorative Arts, Craft and Design at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Hours & Admission
Open Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM.
Admission is free. Closed major holidays.
(Houston, TX) September 11, 2018 — Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to present After Memphis: Crafted Postmodern, a group exhibition that traces the legacy of radical design and Postmodernism in contemporary craft. Featuring six U.S. artists—Courtney Banh, Dee Clements, Jenny Mulder, Jessica Ninci, Christin Ripley, and Erin Lynn Smith—the exhibition takes the form of a showroom, featuring objects ranging from marbled-fabric furniture and neon lighting fixtures to basket-woven rugs and ceramic vessels.
Postmodernism arose in the late 1960s as a critical departure from the austerity and formalism of Modernist architecture and design. This period was uniquely defined by architects who worked in an interdisciplinary mode of object and houseware design. Collectives of radical designers and architects formed to develop an alternative visual language to Modernism’s strict minimalism, championing experimentation, ornamentation, conceptualism, irony, and design elements that did not serve structural function. In the 1980s, one of the most influential postmodern collectives was the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture group that designed furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass, and metal objects.
Today, contemporary craft artists have harnessed Postmodernism’s critical design ideologies and are applying them in a new context, with an emphasis on the hand. After Memphis highlights the shift in design objects from those that incorporated industrial materials to those that are nimble, malleable to their materials and processes, and embody elements of improvisation and performance. For example, in her soft sculpture and upholstered furniture, Christin Ripley employs suminagashi, a Japanese water-marbling technique that creates an effect of sinuous stone, pebble, or terrazzo patterning. The organic lines of her soft sculptures defy associations with established furniture forms and bring to mind the anti-design ideologies of early radical design collectives like Archizoom. Erin Lynn Smith, on the other hand, builds sinuous, patterned ceramic bases that culminate in exposed incandescent bulbs and twisted neon forms. Her lighting fixtures, while thoroughly contemporary, embrace the postmodern architectural tenets of communication, sensuality, and ornamentation.
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