This Present Moment

USD $54.95


PLC with PVC cover

ISBN: 978-1-913875-26-8

248 pages

235 x 190 mm (7¼ x 10 in)

185 colour illustrations

In association with the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

June 2022


A highly illustrated, important volume inspired by the way craft artists have united during the Covid-19 pandemic to engage in urgent conversations about race, gender, and inclusivity.

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During the summer of 2020, the space outside the Renwick Gallery—the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s dedicated museum for contemporary craft and decorative arts—became home to a new discussion about racial justice on Black Lives Matter Plaza. This more inclusive story of American craft was the curators’ response, with this title showcasing artists’ stories of resilience and methods of activism, while at the same time highlighting the ability of craft to spark essential conversations around race, gender and issues of representation.

The title of this boundary-breaking volume is taken from Alicia Eggert’s 2019-2020 eponymous neon work, with essays leading the reader through the past, present, and future roles of the museum in shaping American craft. The authors explore the many manifestations of craft, its connections to tradition and community, and examine notions of home and who we are in “this present moment.” The volume looks at contemporary American craft “in the whirlwind of now” revealing possibilities for contemporary makers to respond to a more empathetic future. It features more than 150 artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, most of which are new acquisitions, in a range of media from fibre and ceramics to glass and mixed media.

Featured artists include Tanya Aguiñiga, Nick Cave, David Chatt, Sonya Clark, Cristina Córdova, Cindy Drozda, Alicia Eggert, J. Paul Fennell, Aram Han Sifuentes, Carla Hemlock (Kanienkeháka), Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Ron Ho, Katie Hudnall, Pat Kramer, Stephen Young Lee, Linda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Wendy Maruyama, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Tom Loeser, John Mascoll, Connie Mississippi, George Nakashima, L. J. Roberts, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary, Polly Adams Sutton, Toshiko Takaezu, Gail Tremblay ( Mi’kmaq and Onondaga), Nancy Worden, Consuelo Jiménez Underwood, and many more.

Accompanies the exhibition This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, May 2, 2022—April 2, 2023, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC.

Author biographies

Mary Savig is the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Recent exhibitions include Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archive of Lenore Tawney (2019) at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and What Is Feminist Art? (2019) at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. Savig is co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women (2022) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Nora Atkinson is the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is author of Craft for a Modern World: The Renwick Gallery Collection (2015) and co-author of the exhibition catalogues accompanying Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016 and Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020.

Anya Montiel (Mexican/Tohono O’odham descent) is a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Montiel is a contributor for the Smithsonian’s American Indian.

Table of Contents

  • Donors to the Campaign
  • Welcome by Dr. Jill Biden, Honorary Patron
  • Director’s Foreword by Stephanie Stebich
  • Acknowledgments
  • A Foundation for the Future: The Renwick at 50 by Nora Atkinson
  • This Present Moment by Mary Savig
  • Artists Reflect: David Chatt; Kelly Church; Sonya Clark; Alicia Eggert; Steven Young Lee; Wendy Maruyama
    Myra Mimlitsch-Gray; Connie Mississippi; Judith Schaechter
  • The Bernstein–Chernoff Collection of Sculptural Wood Art by Mary Savig
  • Respect, Reciprocity, and Responsibility: A Way Forward by Anya Montiel
  • Illustrated Acquisitions from the Renwick Gallery’s 50th Anniversary Campaign
  • 50th Anniversary Campaign Checklist
  • Index
  • Image and Quotation Credits