Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Museum of Arts and Crafts

With this slow period in my work, I went to the Museum of Arts and Crafts which has an exhibition called "Pricked" It calls itself an embroidery exhibit but that narrow definition was not adhered to by the curator. The items do mostly have embroidery as a part of their creation (one is a video of a multi-footed embroidery machine, shown with music). It is a rather wide ranging show. I arrived just as a well informed docent was about to start a tour so I went with her and a shifting group for nearly and hour and then went back for another hour to really look at things, read notes, etc. It's a pleasure to find a well informed docent, some can only parrot a few pieces of information and heaven help you if you have a question that ranges further.

The dramatically memorable piece was a set of wings, with a harness [obviously it wouldn't really work] but the wings were made of found single gloves collected by the artist. The fingers made very beleivable feathers. It was all black/navy so makes one think mostly of Icarus and definitely not of an angel. There were some complicated comments, like the British Army uniforms with material and pictures applied to them explaining and showing facial reconstruction of wounded soldiers. There was a squarish quite ugly sofa with a patchwork of pop culture pictures, all done in the silk embroidery that I saw women doing near Kunming, China -- this had all been done by hand by such overworked, underpaid women and the docent said one could order our own sofa for $20,000. This is art trying to make a comment about the vapidity of international pop embroidery while exploiting the women at the same time.

It was very interesting to look at but very few of the pieces had the wallop one wants from art. Most of the media were mixed and only a few times did I think Wow, what superb craftsmanship, although there was no example of bad craftsmanship. The docent emphasized that this is the last show in that space. In September the museum will move to Columbus Circle, the controversial building that was built by Huntington Hartford and that has stood empty for several years. I had liked the somewhat Moorish Edward Durrell Stone building. Many people apparently hated it. The footprint is being maintained but the building is being totally changed and the museum will have 9 floors of space. That in itself is a plus or the many fiber and textile, clay, glass, et cetera artists. So many people work so hard to express themselves in so many mediums! What a creative species we are.

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