InterPlay: Mechanical Objects at Southwest School of Art

Posted September 20, 2012 in Blog

Nathan Dube, Pop, Pop, Pop!
Brass, plexi-glass, cork, vellum. 8cm. x 38cm. x 1cm. 2012.
Photo courtesy the artist.

Those of us involved in the HCCC blog have recently decided to start including more posts that revolve around not just HCCC and Houston, but the exhibitions, events and news of the regional and national craft community. In an attempt to get this rolling, we thought it would be great to highlight InterPlay: Mechanical Objects, an exhibition currently on view at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas. 

InterPlay is different, because it contains an interactive component, empowering the viewer to move objects of art from the realm of pure aesthetic to experience. The exhibition features artists from the United States and United Kingdom:  Alexis Archibald, Steve Brudniak, Ben Cowden, Kevin Curry, Nathan Dube, Forrest Gard, Keith Newstead, Laikingland Co., Miel Parades, Gary Schott, and Martin Smith.

Performative and interactive aspects in craft are happening more often these days. Projects like Mary Smull’s SPUN may simply be group efforts of expression, while Knitta, the Houston-based knit graffiti group credited with spawning the international yarn-bombing movement, may be viewed as a form of activism, as it creates public awareness. InterPlay, on the other hand, encourages visitors to play and interact with objects that were created with the element of interaction in mind.

This type of exhibition, in which participants are invited to experience the pieces not only through sight, but also through touch and play, seems to be few and far between. I asked Anna Walker, HCCC Curator, how many interactive craft exhibitions of this type she has seen, and she responded, “Not many. Maybe just a handful.”

InterPlay is an exciting exhibition not only because the pieces are interactive, but also because recent HCCC resident artist, Nathan Dube, has work in it. Dube explores gender identity from the male perspective in his exquisitely crafted, comical objects. Using an aesthetic that fools many into thinking his hand-wrought pieces are industrially manufactured, Dube creates modern, grown-up interpretations of mischievous toys for boys. Gary Schott, who was featured in CraftTexas 2010, is also in the exhibition, and, if you visit his blog, you’ll get a sneak peek of the interactive piece he made for the show.

Nathan Dube, Smash!.
Copper, brass, vinyl tubing, cork. 8cm. x 90cm. x 8cm. 2012.
Photo courtesy the artist.

Nathan Dube, Cannon.
Silver, brass, paper, blood press bulb, rubber tubbing. 8cm. x 48cm. x 8cm. 2010.
Fire a spitwad by compressing the blood pressure bulb.
Photo courtesy the artist.

All of you who have a hard time controlling your innate desire to touch art (I know there are a lot of you out there, because I frequently see your type in our galleries, impulsively reaching out), this show is for you!  I suggest you head on over to San Antonio to interact and play with these pieces… because who knows when your next chance will be?

Ashley Powell
HCCC Curatorial Assistant