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Noovo Editions


Noovo Editions is an independent editorial project with online and paper editions. First of its kind in Spain from an unique and contemporary perspective on the international panorama,
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HUMOR IN CRAFT


Mary Hallam Pearse

 

Presenting highly ironic, political, sarcastic and just plain amusing artworks by
33 makers from across the United States and abroad, Humor in Craft opens at the Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC)
with a public reception on Friday, July 20, 2012, from 5:30 to 8 pm. The show continues through October 27, 2012.
Guest-curated by Brigitte Martin—author of the recently released book titled Humor in Craft, and the creator of crafthaus, a
social network and online community for professional craft artists—the world premiere exhibition at SCC highlights a
diverse range of media, techniques and artists, and is sure to challenge viewers to move beyond their own frames of
reference when considering approaches to contemporary art. The concept of “funny” can vary widely due to a variety of
factors, such as social background, personal experiences and values, knowledge of popular culture events, education and
national origin. While there are overlaps, as well as differences, in humor perception, hardly any topic is off-limits for the
artists in this exhibition.. Apparently everything can be made fun of - and why not laugh at the human foibles, the bananapeel
jokes, and, yes, the politicians? Martin comments, “When I embarked on assembling images of humorous craft
artwork, it became clear rather quickly that, even though everyone likes to share funny stories, humor definitely takes on
different meanings. So the question arose, what do we laugh at? Are there images or artwork that everyone finds hilarious?
Are there topics that are off-limits and how far can you go before it’s just not funny anymore? And who gets to decide that
this point has been reached?”

Susan Taylor Glasgow

Super Freak Zebra, 2007
Felieke van der Leest
Super Freak Zebra, 2007
Textile, plastic animal, gold, glass beads, cubic zirkonia
6” x 2 ½” x 1 ¼”


With this in mind, Martin decided that to achieve a fairly comprehensive collection of humorous craft objects, she would ask craft artists, craft educators, “serious” craft writers and people from other craft backgrounds to not only submit images for consideration, but also to put into words what it is that strikes them as funny about their pieces, to talk about the role that humor plays in their work, or how they view the topic of Humor in Craft in general. The resulting exhibition, which presents works that employ humorous elements, as well as art that makes use of wit to introduce “difficult” subjects, will
offer audiences the chance to learn about not only the work in front of them, but also the person behind the work as well.

Selected works highlight topics that range from playful to serious—the human experience, religion, pop culture, politics and history, among others—and draw attention to the craft materials—clay, glass, metal, fiber, wood and mixed media— that are used by contemporary artists today. In his work, La Morte Al Campo Giochi (The Death in the Playground), New York artist Joseph Cavalieri explores form, space and perspective as he combines folklore and stories from the Bible with animated cartoon characters. Working with stained glass techniques, and using fired and layered enamels on colored glass— similar to how church windows were created in Medieval times—the artist creates what he describes as “glass posters.” In La Morte Al Campo Giochi, he has placed cultural icons, Patty and Selma Bouvier, Marge Simpson's older, unmarried, chain-smoking, twin sisters from the animated television series The Simpsons, in a deadly scenario at the playground.

 

Nanny, 2007
Gerrit Van Ness
Nanny, 2007
Mixed media
72” x 60” x 96”


Like Cavalieri, Mark Newport—a nationally known fiber artist from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan—works with pop culture imagery. In his piece, The Two Gun Kid, the artist has taken an illustrated Marvel Comic Book cover and completely embroidered the hero of the scene. Newport’s unique treatment of these boyhood emblems of masculinity challenges the viewer to question preconceived notions of courage and manliness. In contrast to Newport’s focus on masculinity, jeweler
Margaux Lange’s Plastic Body Series offers a feminine point of view through work that she creates using salvaged Barbie doll parts in combination with sterling silver and pigmented resins. About Barbie and her work, Lange explains, “I’m fascinated with who Barbie is as a pop culture icon, her distinguished celebrity status, and the enormous impact she has had on our society…I enjoy the funny juxtaposition of wearing the body, on the body.

Barbie has become the accessory instead of being accessorized.” One of the four artists in the show working in ceramics, Alice Simpson enjoys imagining her likeness as famous figures from history. In the work Portrait of the Artist as Marie Antoinette, Simpson has created a delightfully lifelike bust of this historic personality with a shoe, a piece of cake and a pocket watch balancing atop the figure’s 18th-century hairstyle. More startling than the height of Marie Antoinette’s hair are the ornaments that decorate it, which include, most controversially, references to current events. Sculpted using a coil-building method, Simpson’s works often contain hidden messages or treasures within them. Never to be seen, these add to the teasing nature of the works.


 

Yata, yata, yata (2.0), 2012
Jim Kransberger
Yata, yata, yata (2.0), 2012
Papier mache, wood, brass
20” x 12” x 12”

 


To complement the Humor in Craft exhibition, SCC’s retail store will have work by several participating artists, including jewelers Margaux Lange and Gary Schott, and ceramist Jason Kishell, available for purchase. The Studio, SCC’s 4,000- square-foot education center, has planned a number of hands-on workshops and programs to enhance visitors’ enjoyment of making and to connect them with the materials and issues the exhibiting artists are exploring through their work.

Other educational resources include Source Cases located in the main galleries that offer visitors the opportunity to appreciate the materials artists have used or been inspired by during the creation of their works. The Drop-In Studio provides children and families with a free, hands-on art activity related to the show.

 

Leg Bouncer: Stress Expresser, 2008
Jennifer Crupi
Leg Bouncer: Stress Expresser, 2008
Aluminum, steel, acrylic, vellum print, wood
15½” x 14” x 12½”

On Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 4 pm, exhibition curator Brigitte Martin presented a gallery talk in which she discusses the intersection of contemporary craft and humor. In addition, Martin’s book, Humor in Craft, released in April 2012, will be sold through SCC’s retail store for $50. Through hundreds of images and essays from 235 makers worldwide, the hardcover, full-color publication provides insights into the creative minds of contemporary artists.

A public book signing with the author is planned following her talk. For more information, call 412.261.7003 x25. Presenting contemporary art in craft media by regional, national and international artists, SCC offers cutting edge exhibitions. Located at 2100 Smallman Street in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, PA, hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. Exhibitions and informal, hands-on art activities in the Drop-In Studio are always free to the public.

More Info: http://www.humorincraft.com

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