Now to mark the anniversary of that show, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft has organized the exhibit Objects: Redux: Fifty Years of Craft Evolution and traveled it to Santa Fe, bringing together work by artists from the first show alongside work by contemporary artists working in craft and mixed media. I attended the opening of the show in Santa Fe, a gallery talk the next day by Houston curator Kathryn Hall and William Dunn of Form & Concept gallery. . . and I will return for a third visit to study these works some more. Hall and Dunn emphasized that the Redux exhibit is not intended to present "the best" artists or work from then and now. Rather, the intent is to present work from both periods that shows artists experimenting with materials and responding to the issues and events of their time.
For me the show is intriguing for several reasons. First, there are stunning works by renowned weavers such as Hal Painter, Trude Guermonprez, Kay Sekimachi and Chinami and Rowland Ricketts. There is a gorgeous chest by George Nakashima, three glowing knitted wire collars by Arline Fisch, and a luminous mahogany charger by Bob Stocksdale. This work responds above all to the limits and possibilities of materials. All of these works show the fine finishes, expert skill, and elegant unity of, well, form and concept in pure craft media. These are qualities that I was taught to venerate in fine craft. (I am the daughter of a woodworker who taught me to appreciate the precise, perfect dovetails and the silky finish of fine cabinetry.) These works are perfectly executed and visually gorgeous.
|Hal Painter, Wedded Rocks, 1980. Handwoven tapestry.|
|detail, Hal Painter, Wedded Rocks, 1980. Handwoven tapestry.|
|Trude Guermonprez, Banner, 1965. Silk hanging. Courtesy Forrest L. Merrill collection|
|detail, Trude Guermonprez, Banner, 1965. Silk hanging. Courtesy Forrest L. Merrill collection|
|Kay Sekimachi, Ogawa II, 1969. Nylon monofilament, glass beads, clear plastic tubes. |
Courtesy Forrest L. Merrill collection
|detail, Kay Sekimachi, Ogawa II, 1969. Nylon monofilament, glass beads, clear plastic tubes.|
Courtesy Forrest L. Merrill collection. Photo by Sam Elkind
|Chinami Ricketts, Noshime Plaid, 2019. Indigo-dyed brown cotton, plain weave.|
|detail, Chinami Ricketts, Noshime Plaid, 2019. Indigo-dyed brown cotton, plain weave.|
|George Nakashima, Kornblut Case, c. 197o. Black walnut, maple burl.|
Courtesy of Hunt Modern
|Bob Stocksdale, Charger, 1986. Mahoghany. |
Courtesy Forrest L. Merrill collection
Nut with Spoon and Dish, 1970, silver, by Robert Ebendorf (left).
Untitled Vase, 1990s, silver by John Marshall (right).
|detail, John Marshall, Untitled Vase, 1990s, silver. |
photo by Sam Elkind
|Arline Fisch, Knitted Round Beads, 2017. Coated copper wire, silver magnet clasp.|
And yet all of this is of course characteristic of the broader movement in modern and contemporary art on the whole, away from "the beautiful" toward a fraught engagement with issues other than perfectly elegant form and finish. These artists whose work is more prickly are offering stories about their own identities and communities and investigating the history and culture around their materials.
|Yuri Kobayashi, Curio, 2015. Ash.|
|detail, Yuri Kobayashi, Curio, 2015. Ash.|
|Josh Faught, Max, 2014. Handwoven silver lamé and hemp, nail polish, sequin trim, spill (resin) with broken Cathy mug, giant clothes pin, denim, silk, wine glass, toilet paper on cedar support|
|detail, Josh Faught, Max, 2014. Handwoven silver lamé and hemp, nail polish, sequin trim, spill (resin) with broken Cathy mug, giant clothes pin, denim, silk, wine glass, toilet paper on cedar support|
The Rickettses, Rowland and Chinami, grow and harvest indigo in traditional ways. Rowland's work references the complicated role of indigo in American history and the integral part it played in the "triangle trade" that included human trafficking.
|Rowland Ricketts, Unbound-Series 1 No. 4, 2016-2018. Indigo and madder-dyed linen, undyed wool.|
|detail, Rowland Ricketts, Unbound-Series 1 No. 4, 2016-2018. Indigo and madder-dyed linen, undyed wool.|
|Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Loving Care, 2019. Porcelain, fake hair, porcelain beads from Jingdezhen, China, rope, ferns. Made in collaboration with Marta Francine.|
Background: Arline Fisch, Knitted Round Beads and Silver and Lavender
|MJ Tyson, 102 Garden Hills Drive, 2017, personal objects belonging to the deceased residents of 102 Garden Hills Drive|
On wall: Rowland Ricketts, Drawings, 2019, composted indigo leaves, wood ash, lime, wheat bran, wool felt
|MJ Tyson, 16 Summit Road, 2018, personal objects belonging to the deceased residents of 16 Summit Road|