The Craft

The Appreciation of the Handmade

 
In the online catalogue to The Craft, a wonderfully eye-opening exhibit at the Lehman College of Art, Curator Melissa Brown writes, “What an individual can fashion using bare hands is interesting given our contemporary relationship to time, manufacturing and digital culture. Information is instantaneous, labor for consumable goods is exported and the exponential growth of technology combined with natural awareness of mortality makes time especially precious. Craft and craftsmanship require time.”
 
Among the artists selected to exhibit their work, Brown has selected those who “share a common thread that can be pulled from the works presented is not just the use of craft, but also craftiness, imbuing each artwork with subtext or fakery. The virtue of a traditional craftsman is that his skill is intended to go un-noticed; his artistry should be enjoyable to the eye but not demand attention for its own sake.”
 
Four artists that captured HAND/EYE Magazine’s attention include:
 
Boat-builder Marie Lorenz exhibits I Am Half Sick of Shadows, a kayak that depicts the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines on the port and starboard sides of the boat. The kayak is part of an ongoing project that Lorenz calls, The Tide and Current Taxi. Lorenz ferries people throughout New York in the kayak. She explains, “I study tidal charts of the harbor and use the tidal currents and river currents to push the boat all throughout New York City. The act of floating through adds a specific presence to one’s own observation. The viewer maintains an awareness of their own balance and form as they absorb the details in their surroundings. This kind of observation creates something new out of something familiar. This is an attempt to ‘un-know’ the city. Furthermore, my project looks for unoccupied edges of social control– we float freely through the highly gridded city, in search of understanding, or just ‘in search of.’
 
Assistant professor at the California College of Arts in Oakland and San Francisco Josh Faught’s tapestries combine traditional fiber arts with meditative, three-dimensional scrap booking.  Parts of the whole are crocheted, dyed, embroidered, woven, pinned or stuck on. Brown writes, “The various methods of attachment can be related to personal relationships – some impossible to unravel, others can be easily separated. The wall hangings also imply blanket narratives about ceremony and domesticity. Personal items of seeming importance are strung together with fringy furnishings, according to temporal hierarchy. The work emanates a sense of futility in trying to hold things together.”
 
Brooklyn-based artist Carla Edwards’ quilt pattern, Woven Ribbon, is a collage of American flags that have been cut, dyed black, then crossed using the eight-fold pattern of Woven Ribbon.  The familiar red and white stripes have been equalized. According to Brown, “The vertical tower of ink drawings traces the same eight-fold pattern, making a comparison to Islamic symbolism for harmony.  The flag is a national symbol and the protagonist in many patriotic rituals.  Edwards creates a metaphoric, cultural bridge by reforming National symbols according to timeless, geometric figures.  Shades of Ambivalence is the product of rituals that converge to form a symbolic, new whole.” 
 
Ruth Laskey’s intricate geometries appear as lengths of linen.  The threads are hand dyed and then woven together with other un-dyed threads in a tapestry-like process but that also incorporates a twill pattern. Brown notes on the online catalogue, “Twill Series (Black 3) depicts a series of chain linkages and is emblematic of her process. Laskey’s geometric structures are like apparitions. They give little clue as to how they appeared and seem eerily familiar, as if they emerged from a collective mind’s eye.”
 
The Craft runs through December 16th at the Lehman College Art Gallery. For more information, please visit, http://www.lehman.edu/vpadvance/artgallery/gallery.

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