While the word “craft” is a loaded term that may imply hierarchical notions of artistic validity and cultural importance, so-called craft media have played an integral role in the trajectory of 20th-century art. These materials, such as glass, metal, fiber, and ceramic, are themselves steeped in histories of labor, class, and gender, as well as regional and familial identity. Craft media therefore can embody layered content that conveys both the meaning of the specific piece and the deeper implications of the material. Crafting Continuities, which inhabits three distinct spaces within the 20/21 Gallery, aims to inspire conversations about materiality, process, and their implications, exploring the ways that contemporary artworks made from venerable media can forge connections to the past, while the creative process itself looks to the expressive potential of those materials.
The installation juxtaposes contemporary objects from the collection with their historic counterparts and with remnants of the process, such as preparatory drawings. In this way, Crafting Continuities seeks to engage deeper content found in the Spencer’s contemporary artworks in textile, blown-glass, metalwork, wood, and ceramic, while highlighting the depth of the Museum’s collection of historic artworks in these media. The exhibition will incorporate a broad range of artworks, underscoring the legacies of these materials and revealing some of the cultural tides that have transmitted media and techniques across both time and space. Due to popular demand, Crafting Continuities has been extended. The exhibition will undergo transformation in late January, when new textiles, drawings, and prints will be installed, and will be on view through June, 2012.