Craft has been a historically devalued art form. Not only is craft viewed as being somehow less valid than fine art (Painting, drawing, and sculpture sitting at the cool kids table while quilting and pottery huddle in the nerdier corner of the caf), it is often simply misunderstood. “What is craft?” is a question you hear among both the artistically and mathematically inclined.
The Renwick Gallery is home to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s craft and decorative arts program. In absolute honesty, I was not expecting to love the Renwick’s collection. Although I find craft to often be interesting, as someone who works mostly with painting and drawing those are the fields I gravitate towards. But this past weekend at the Renwick’s 40 under 40 show?
Craft is cool, my friends, and this show is the proof. A collection of work by forty artists born since 1972, this exhibition challenges our preconceptions of craft and explores the evolving nature of the field. Featuring work created post September 11, 40 under 40 captures the zeitgeist of the contemporary craft world. Craft is no longer free from concept, no longer necessarily soft and beautiful. It is often aggressive and cutting edge, funny and poignant. Craft is clearly an art form with a message, which it delivers with a punch.
The artist featured above, Olek, is arguably the main draw for the exhibit. Certainly the most well known; I’ll admit that I walked into this show expecting to love Olek and feel a certain level of eh about everything else. Straight off the bat, however, 40 under 40 brought strong and innovative work. Continue reading