An array of beautifully miscellaneous objects make up the 180 works in Craft for a Modern World, each one intrinsically unique in appearance, material and purpose. The crafts themselves range vastly from one another, some appearing to have been plucked straight from nature, with their exquisite petal-like features, while others display a more avant-garde, practical yet still equally remarkable appearance. The collection includes works by artists including Matthias Pilessnig, Ron Fleming, Albert Paley, Zack Peabody, George Nakashima, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Michael James, Todd Hope, Patti Warashina, Kim Schmahmann, Merry Renk, and Toots Zynsky.
Recently American craft has undergone an explosive transformation, as a young generation of artists working in metal, wood, clay, glass, and fibre questions traditional methods. Their fresh ideas and innovative techniques captivate a new generation of museum visitors, collectors, and enthusiasts alike. Author Nora Atkinson delves into the ways in which craft has evolved alongside the technological world; whilst craft continues to hold a significant role both in modern culture and in the art world, the ways in which this manifests in both the pre-internet and post-internet world is interestingly distinct.
The combination of the aesthetic beauty of fine art as well as the practical efficiency of design, renders craft the art form to merge the two separate worlds of art and design. The sheer diversity within the collection and within the craft world as a whole is unlike any other art form. The craft objects within the collection span across multiple uses, designs and materials with each craft honed to the individual eye in their aesthetic and practical appeal.
The collection celebrates the renovation and reopening of the Renwick Gallery, since it’s opening in 1972.
Nora Atkinson is the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft of the Renwick Gallery. Before joining the Smithsonian, Atkinson was a curator at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington, from 2006 to 2014. Her other publications include Renwick Invitational 2016 (2016), Fragile Fortress: The Art of Dan Webb (2014), Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard (2010), and The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book (2009).