THE ARTIST IS IN THE BUILDING
Not infrequently, while on the phone or in a meeting in my office at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the conversation will be distracted, if not outright interrupted, by the sounds of making coming from the studios of our resident artists. It never bothers me when this happens–which is good, as it happens every day–because it gives me an opportunity to brag about this incomparable program and the fascinating artists it brings to HCCC. Since joining the Center, the excitement and energy that the resident artists bring to my work daily has become among the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Continue Reading »
CASE STUDY: PUSSYHAT
The cat-eared knit hat on view at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft this spring has traveled thousands of miles, from a Maine-based knitting group to New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and now Houston. It was worn on January 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C., at the Women’s March, the largest single-day peaceful demonstration in United States history. Betsey Norland, a knitter from Lambertville, New Jersey, was unable to attend the protest herself and knitted eight hats as a way to participate, commenting, “A little bit of me was on a lot of women.” This handmade hat is just one of millions that were created for and worn by participants marching in Washington, D.C., and in 600 sister marches worldwide. Continue Reading »
ALTHEA CROME ON STORYTELLING THROUGH KNITTING & OUR CULTURAL FASCINATION WITH MINIATURES
Installation view of Althea Crome’s “King and Queen of Hearts Coronation Sweater,” 2015. On view in “Pocket Museum” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft through March 18, 2017. Photo by Scott Cartwright.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists. Check out other entries on our blog.
This week, HCCC Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Althea Crome a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work. Althea is featured in Pocket Museum, which is on view in HCCC’s Artist Hall through March 18, 2017.
Sarah Darro: A number of your pieces incorporate figurative subjects and narrative elements from the art historical canon, ranging from ancient Greek amphora to Picasso paintings. You have also collaborated on projects in which characters wear your designs: the 2009 stop-motion film, Coraline, for instance. How does narrative function in your work?
Althea Crome: Storytelling started with my four children who, as they were growing up, begged me to tell them tales. It has evolved over time into storytelling in my artwork. All of my pictorial knitting tells a story—either through a single piece or through a series of work. Some of my pieces have an autobiographical theme, like my Scuba Cardigan, which I created during a time in my life when I was my most heartbroken and found it difficult to knit. I was newly divorced and looking for ways to find meaning in my life, so I took up scuba diving. The sweater tells a story of one wonderful day of scuba diving, when we were followed out to sea by dolphins, saw a rainbow and a water spout, swam with sharks and sea turtles, and I even lost and later found my weight belt in a coral reef. I used techniques on the collar and borders to create the illusion of water and sea life. The creation of this particular piece paid homage to the things in my life that helped save my spirit and, in the process, re-energized my desire to knit. Continue Reading »
#5womenartists: Alicia Dietz
Photo of Alicia Dietz by Maj. Richelle Treece, US Army National Guard.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists.
HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall recently asked woodworker and veteran, Alicia Dietz, currently featured in United by Hand: Work and Service by Drew Cameron, Alicia Dietz, and Ehren Tool, a few questions about her experience as a woodworker and Officer in the U.S. Army. Continue Reading »
Image found on Twitter: @rmayersinger.
Keeping up with current events, it was impossible to miss the millions who participated in the Women’s March on Washington D.C. and the sister marches organized around the globe. Also impossible to ignore was the role that craft played in the community building and optics of the historic protests through a march partner organization, the Pussyhat Project. Organized and spread online and through social media, the Pussyhat Project sought to create a unique visual statement for the march–both creating a field of pink that united individual protesters and offering a way to participate and support by those who could not physically join in the march but volunteered to knit and crochet hats. Continue Reading »
Garth Johnson on Cross-Cultural Translation, Communing with Secondhand Objects & Generational Shifts in Craft Culture
Garth Johnson,”Making Legends into Posters” from the “Proverb Plate Series,” 2010. Sand-blasted found porcelain plate with silver PVD coating. Photo courtesy of artist.
This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Garth Johnson, Curator of Ceramics at Arizona State University’s Art Museum and Ceramics Research Center and At Your Service artist, questions about his artistic process, his relationship with collecting and craft culture for young audiences.
Sarah Darro: How have you navigated your many roles within the field of craft? As a ceramicist, writer, curator, and professor—is there a position that you identify with most?
Garth Johnson: I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. I was surrounded by handmade things, and making was definitely central to my childhood. I grew up making, then entered college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an art student because art was what I was generally good at. I should add that I have hands that are very un-talented. I’m not somebody who can pick up a tool or a material and master it easily. I’ve always felt that this was an asset as an educator—I can identify with people who have many different learning styles. The “slippage” between my brain and my hands is what led me to become a writer and curator.
These days, I identify mainly as a curator. It’s a good thing that there generally isn’t a singular path for curators to embark on—it’s a field that values experience over academic achievement. Continue Reading »
Fiber Artist Nick DeFord on the Supernatural, the DIY Movement, and Collecting Phrases
Nick DeFord, “Bermuda Triangle”, 2015. Hand-sewn sequins on game board. Photo by Nick DeFord.
Don’t miss our Spring exhibitions before they close on May 8, 2016. Last week, Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch curator Hayley McSwain interviewed fiber artist Nick DeFord. Read his responses below to learn more about his interest in the unknown, his collecting habits, and how he creates his work.
Hayley McSwain: Your work often involves the supernatural and the unknown. What sparked your interest in these themes?
Nick DeFord: I’ve been interested in the strange and supernatural as far back as my childhood. I grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries and Scooby Doo. I hid my eyes during the alien scenes of Mysteries, and was always thoroughly disappointed when the monsters in Scooby Doo turned out to be cranky old men in masks. I mean, just once couldn’t they have stumbled on to an actual paranormal experience? I watched the X-Files premiere because I was so excited about the show. The weird part is not that I continue to be fascinated in these topics: its that it took me so long to realize that I could make art about them. My epiphany as an artist was, “Oh, I can make art about things I find interesting?” Continue Reading »
Niki Johnson on Forging a Career as an Independent Curator and Artist
Niki Johnson, “God & Country,” 2012. Altered commemorative plates. Photo by Scott Cartwright.
For Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists with #5womenartists, a social media campaign asking the question “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” The following blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.
This week, we asked At Your Service artist-curator, Niki Johnson, a few questions about her career and influences.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft: As an artist and curator, what challenges do you face in your professional practice? Are there any contemporary issues that you identify with and address in your work?
Niki Johnson: Like most artist-curators, the greatest challenge I face is finding financial support for my projects. When curating, money buys not only the time required to handle the logistical side of setting up exhibitions, but also for their promotion, catalogue development and sometimes gallery rental fees. Locating funding requires a type of creativity and level of community outreach that at first I didn’t realize would be so important to the overall feel of each show. How an exhibition is funded affects every aspect of its appeal. This makes sense, as each exhibition is reliant on the community involved in its building, programming and viewing. Up to this point, I’ve had success with online crowd funding, institutional sponsorships, personal donations, exhibition merchandise sale and occasionally honorariums. While at times, it can be daunting to find funding, it can be done! Continue Reading »
Ceramic Artist Caroline Slotte on Her Sandblasting Process & Ascribed Memory in Her Work
Caroline Slotte, plate from the “Tracing” series, 2015. Reworked second-hand ceramics. Photo by Caroline Slotte.
As part of the social media campaign “Can You Name Five Women Artists?” this blog entry celebrates a female artist whose work is on view in our galleries. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) joined The National Museum of Women in the Arts along with several other institutions around the country to celebrate female artists for Women’s History Month. To read other articles in our series of #5womenartists, click here.
This week, HCCC’s Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked At Your Service artist, Caroline Slotte, a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work.
Sarah Darro: Memories are formed and cemented, reinforcing neural pathways in our brains through repetition. Likewise, through recurring strokes, your Tracing Series transforms the decorative patterns of antique plates into intricate three-dimensional reliefs. Could you explain your process and how it relates to this physiological occurrence in the brain?
Caroline Slotte: A recurring theme in my work concerns the interpretation of visual information – how for instance a detail that is difficult to read, a bearer of information that can only barely be decoded, has the capacity to attract the gaze and captivate attention. I frequently employ techniques of reduction and removal and have often been surprised by how little visual information that is needed in order to suggest a connection or a pictorial reference. The risk of a work becoming over-explicit in its expression is far greater than the risk of visual allusions being too subtle. Continue Reading »