Late in July, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MFA) debuted an exhibit that blurs the lines between art, craft, and design. The exhibit, Crafted: Objects in Flux, focuses on contemporary craft-based artists. The works of art on view include furniture, jewelry, fiber, glass, metal, and ceramics, that are all incorporated—along with the ideas and forms—in the traditional notion of craft.
The exhibit is organized into three themes: “The Re-Tooled Object,” The Performance Object” and The Immersive Object.” More than 50 works by 41 noted and emerging international artists are featured.
In the “Re-Tooled Object" theme, Danish textile artist Astrid Krogh’s Ikat II (2011) retools this traditional technique by using optical fibers to weave a surface with patterns composed of light. Doug Bucci’s Trans-Hematopoietic/Black (2011/2014) was virtually designed, and 3D printed as a single interlocked piece of resin, then hand-dyed.
Norwood Viviano’s Mining Industries series (started in 2014) takes digital rendering and printing technologies along with glass casting. The series tell the stories of Boston and the Lawrence Manufacturing Company in Lowell, MA, a textile mill. The transparent glass constructions, perched on pedestals, show how the landscape has changed with the expansion and dissolution of commerce.
In “Immersive Object” craft-intensive modes of making—bricklaying and tile work—build the structures in which people live, work and play. The pieces exhibited define space and scale, but also redefine our relationship to these materials. Brazilian Maria Nepomuceno creates biomorphic forms that appear to grow in and out of the wall and floor. In Untitled (2013), stacked ceramic bricks act as a switchboard with beaded cords linking with one another. A central ceramic vessel, where the strands feed in and out, is fluted with wide open mouths, beaded and plaited textile constructions hang from the strands.
The 11-foot Drag (2013) by Susie Ganch is featured in the "Performative Object" where many functional crafted items have ties to human rituals and behaviors in daily life. Drag, composed of plastic utensils, Styrofoam cups, buttons, parts of plastic toys, and other throwaway items that decorate a charm bracelet, literally drags on the floor, representing the burden of adornment.
Craft: Objects in Flux is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston until January 10, 2016. For more information, visit www.mfa.org.