Craftivism: Reclaiming Craft and Creating Community opens at the Lawton Gallery (UWGB campus) tonight at 4:30. If you are anywhere near the area, you must go see it. I helped install the exhibition with a troop of people plus guest curator, Faythe Levine, a tremendously talented gallery owner from Milwaukee. I blogged about the details of the exhibition on Visual Influence, so for more info hop over there.
I was so excited when I first heard this show was coming to town, and even more so when I met Faythe and saw the inspiring artworks for this exhibition. The Craftivism and DIY culture that has been gathering speed over the past few years have directly influenced the direction for my personal artwork and what artwork I want to have shown in The Eclipse Gallery.
"To know that something is made by hand, by someone who cares that you like it, makes that object much more enjoyable." --Cinnamon Copper & Amy Carlton
Gallery director Stephen Perkins writes, "One indication of the energy of this new movement is the large number of manifestoes being issued by its participants...It's interesting to me that the world of craft has adopted a strategy from the world of avant-garde art to promote its agenda, and it further suggests that the divide between the two worlds is becoming increasingly blurred."
That is my sentiment exactly. The reason I want to have handmade design in my gallery is because I do believe that craft, design, and other forms are merging with "fine art" to become legitimatized as Art (with a capital A) in a broader sense of the word. Betsy Greer, author of Knitting for Good, writes, "Until the turn of the last century, the word "craft" was...negatively viewed in the vernacular. Long seen as trivial and somewhat crude and unnecessary thanks to technological advancements, "craft" had long lingered as an activity of the past. But thanks to the timely convergence of the quest for uniquity, frustration against consumerism and materialism, and the internet, "craft" has been rescued and empowered instead of forgotten.
Design Art relates to this--design that is so unique it is sold in galleries as art. This bridge between craft and art, design and art, architecture and art--you see it now in so many areas, even graphic design--where the typical gallery show is being expanded upon and is evolving.
Which brings me to an interview I read with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, a famous Swiss art curator and critic. He stresses that what is important about art or exhibitions is not how large they are or what type of venue they are held in, but the actual content of the show. Obrist says, "It's not through scale that art or buildings are made important." I would add to that, location either.
I am so happy that the world today is evolving away from the notion that all good art is made and shown in NYC, London, and Paris. There are artists all over the world, in every corner, creating important artwork. The goal of The Eclipse Gallery will be not only to bring more international contemporary art to Wisconsin, but to create more awareness of the many highly talented, professional Wisconsin artists. Another aspect of the gallery will be creating community, a fundamental issue of Craftivism and the handmade movement. I will have various sections where visitors to my gallery can create work, play, experiment, and most of all have fun. Much like the "laboratory" notion of Obrist.
Obrist says, "The curator is the catalyst of relations and situations....Exhibitions have to go past geographical and cultural boundaires; they must be transgenerational and interdisciplinary." A very interesting statement from a very interesting person. Do an internet search for more info about Obrist, and you can read a great interview with him here.