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Museum of Arts and Design Collection Exhibition Highlights Craft's Advancements from 1950s to Today

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MAD’s collection comprises more than 3,000 artworks in clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood, dating from the post-war studio craft movement through to contemporary art.

Museum of Arts and Design Collection Exhibition Highlights Craft's Advancements from 1950s to Today

Once at the margins of the art world, today craft is front and center in art galleries, museums, and fairs, widely recognized for its expressive potential and cultural significance. On view at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) from May 22 to Feb. 13, 2022, Craft Front & Center brings together more than 70 iconic and lesser-known works, assembled from the eclectic richness of the Museum's permanent collection, to highlight key touchpoints in craft's history that have led to the current moment.

"Craft Front & Center captures the creative revolution in materials, processes, and subject matter that has transformed our understanding and expectations of art," said Elissa Auther, MAD's Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. "Like craft itself, the exhibition is down-to-earth and democratic. We want everyone to experience the joy, genius, humor, and more that objects made by hand bring to the world."

Challenging traditional thinking of craft as separate from fine art, the exhibition reveals the field's deep engagement in art's major movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism, while also launching its own revolutions, particularly the elevation of women and people of color as significant artists.

MAD's collection comprises more than 3,000 artworks in clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood, dating from the post-war studio craft movement through to contemporary art and design. With an aim to subvert traditional hierarchies in the arts, the collection advocates for the central role of craft in art and society.

Toward that end, Craft Front & Center is organized into eight themes exploring craft's impact:

In the Formation of Identity

From the personal to the political, craft stimulates important conversations around race, gender, and sexuality.

In the Gallery

Beginning in the 1950s, artists engaged with traditional craft materials and created powerful assertions of materiality and process that attracted museums and collectors alike.

In the Home

Handmade objects are potent receptacles of emotions and memories, infused with human warmth that enliven and enrich the home.

What Can You Do with an Object?

A look back at the seminal exhibition Objects: USA (1969) and the works displayed whose innovations still resonate.

What Can You Do with a Thread?

Fiber artists past and present have generated works of amazing complexity and conceptual ingenuity.

What Can You Do with Clay?

The funny and eccentric "Funk" movement was embraced by California ceramicists in the 1960s and remains a major influence on younger makers today.

What Can You Do with Glass?

A focused retrospective of the career of studio-glass pioneer Marvin Lipofsky.

What Can You Do with Craft?

A look at the modern and contemporary artists who have absorbed studio craft's legacy and expanded its boundaries.

Each thematic section is punctuated with pivotal and rarely seen works from iconic makers, such as Betty Woodman, Marvin Lipofsky, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. The exhibition also casts a fresh eye on craft's pioneers; celebrating Olga de Amaral, Charles Loloma, Patti Warashina, and others who pushed the boundaries of materials and sought more inclusive sources of inspiration.

Craft Front & Center's gallery experience will be enhanced with video content, accessible via QR codes. The videos will allow visitors to glean rich insights about the works and artists on view directly from the curatorial team. Additionally, a number of public programs, to be announced, will be offered to extend the exhibition content to audiences of all ages. For more information, visit madmuseum.org.


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