Sunday, December 23, 2012

40 under 40: Craft Futures

Where: Renwick Gallery

When: through February 3, 2013

By way of celebrating the Renwick's 40th anniversary, this exhibit celebrates 40 craft artists under the age of 40; it is a look at the future of craft.  The commentary on the exhibit indicates that the theme of the artists is using craft to make a better world.  I'm not sure I picked up that idea from every piece I saw, but I really enjoyed this show, so I'm not going to quibble.

In the first room is an item I can only describe as looking like the love child of a space pod and an upholstered chair.  It's called "Mementos of a Doomed Construct"; the artist is Stephanie Liner.  I found the piece a bit startling; I walked up to it and found there was a mannequin inside, which I was not expecting.  There's also a picture on the wall, placed so that you can see it through the window in the "pod."  It seems as if, all of a sudden, you're surrounded by people.

Other pieces I enjoyed were:
  • "Impressions" by Sebastian Martorana - it looks like a pillow, but is made of marble
  • "E-Waste Project" by Christy Oates - beautiful marquetry
  • "Fibers and Civilization" by Sabrina Gschwandtner - quilts made from films about fiber de-accessioned from the Fashion Institute of Technology library
  • "Knitting is for Pus****" by Olek - an entire room covered in knitted camouflage
I can't finish this post without commenting on the "Enlightenment Room" by Nick Dong.  It's a room; you enter one person at a time.  When you close the door, you can barely see, but take a seat on the "throne" at the back.  I won't describe what happens next, so as not to spoil the experience for anyone planning to attend the show, but it's odd.  I think the Renwick could have done a better job at telling you to go into the room, and they could have set up some sort of indicator to tell you that someone else is in the room.  Also, there's really nothing that alerts you to the fact that there's no "end" to the experience.  It ends when you stand up.  I'm all for crazy, over-the-top art, but I can't say I feel more enlightened...

Verdict:  Well worth the trip over to the White House area.  I always enjoy the shows at the Renwick, and will add this one to my list of fun exhibits.  Plus, you can see the work progressing on the grandstands for the Inaugural parade on your trip.

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