The Maker’s Archive
October 4, 2013 — January 19, 2014
In the Front Gallery
Friday, October 4, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
5:30 PM – Artist Talk by Tybre Newcomer (The Maker’s Archive)
5:45 PM – Curators’ Talk by Susie J. Silbert and Anna Walker (SPRAWL)
Open Studios by Current Resident Artists (to follow artist talks)
The opening will also feature SPRAWL, in the Main Gallery.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to present The Maker’s Archive: Works by Tybre Newcomer, on view October 4, 2013 – January 19, 2014. Featuring large sculptural work and intimate wall pieces, Newcomer’s ceramic installation captures the transcendental relationship between craftsmen and their tools, transforming HCCC’s front gallery into both archive and pilgrimage site. The exhibition debuts an entirely new body of work that builds on the artist’s established fascination with tools, their histories, and the craftsmen that use them. Speaking directly to the endangerment of professional craft practices, Newcomer honors the field through his life-sized re-creations of workspaces and his construction of gilded niches, displaying tools like religious icons.
Kathryn Hall, HCCC Curatorial Fellow, commented: “By presenting the tool as a devotional object and contextualizing the maker’s workspace as sacred, Newcomer sheds light on this indescribable relationship between makers and their tools. As a site of reverence, the exhibition creates a spiritual environment that translates the personal and intimate experience of the craftsman in a manner that is relatable to a broader audience. Like relics, the tools are a source for enlightenment, praise, and devotion.”
Through the plasticity of his medium, Newcomer harnesses the tactile essence of each craft, educating his audience about the metaphysical experience of working with one’s hands. Based on personal interviews with various makers–including a blacksmith, a woodworker and a gaffer—he sheds light on the ritualistic nature of process. As an artifact, each object represents a set of valuable techniques that have been passed down for generations. Like an altar, the austere form of the ceramic anvil in Journeyman hallmarks the pivotal role of the tool that functions as a stable and receptive stage for the blacksmith’s hammer.
Similarly, the artist’s wall pieces, such as Reverance, pay homage to a late-19th-century tool chest made by piano maker, H. O. Studley. This American artifact is exemplary of a craftsman’s reverence for his tools. Designed to hang on the wall, Studley’s tool chest housed nearly 300 tools, some antique and some handmade. Borrowing from the ornamentation of Gothic cathedrals, the piano maker custom designed individual cubbies and niches for each tool. Hanging in succession, along the walls of the gallery, Newcomer’s pieces reference Studley’s design, and, like niches punctuating the interior space of a temple, frame tools in a gesture of respect and devotion.
Tybre Newcomer is a full-time lecturer at Central Michigan University, where he teaches 3D design and ceramics courses. Previously a resident of Wichita Falls, TX, he taught ceramics at Midwestern State University and was an artist-in-residence in 2012. In the past year, his work has been featured in the 2013 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Biennial and CraftTexas 2012, both exhibited at HCCC.
The Maker’s Archive was curated by Kathryn Hall, Curatorial Fellow at HCCC. With this exhibition, HCCC is pleased to be a participating organization in the 2013 Texas Biennial. The Biennial is an independent survey of contemporary art in Texas founded to create an exhibition opportunity for all artists living and working in the state. In the fall of 2013, the Biennial celebrates its 5th anniversary with a range of exhibitions and other programming at venues in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marfa and San Antonio. For more information, visit www.texasbiennial.org/ .
Above: (1) Tybre Newcomer, Reverence. Ceramic, gold leaf, vintage Stanley #9 block plane. 2013. Photo by John H. Clarke. (2 – 4) Tybre Newcomer, Journeyman. Ceramic. 2013. Photo by John H. Clarke.