MAD Collects

The Future of Craft, Parts 1-2
Running through March 2019, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is currently exhibiting MAD Collects: The Future of Craft Part 1 features more than fifty works of craft, art, design, and jewelry acquired for the permanent collection over the past five years. Curated in connection to The Burke Prize 2018: The Future of Craft Part 2, MAD Collects showcases the dynamic field of art and design practices that sustain, expand, and interpret the craft media the Museum was founded to support. 
In June 2016, MAD established a five-year collections plan seeking to acquire works that supported the Museum's history—rounding out the mid-century American studio craft holdings as well as acquiring works directly connected to historic exhibitions—while developing the contemporary art collection, particularly in the areas of fiber and clay, studio art jewelry, and expanded practices in craft. The acquisition of these works deepens MAD's connection to global practices and concerns as well as its commitment to collecting and supporting established and emergent artists of color. Works in this exhibition also highlight the Museum's ongoing interest in artists who reimagine traditional craft forms and processes through material, conceptual, and disciplinary innovation.
Selected Artists in the Exhibition include:
El Anatsui (Ghana, b. 1944)—Using and highlighting found materials, El Anatsui's work serves as a commentary on the colonial and postcolonial history of consumerism in Africa. The abstract and reflective sculptures recall traditional kente cloth from Ghana and are intended to bend and fold organically when installed, enhancing their resemblance to textiles. The use of bottle caps references the import of gin in Africa during the Atlantic slave trade, which established racial hierarchies, as well as the more recent development of bottled beer as indicative of urban sociability in the mid-twentieth century.
Sanford Biggers (United States, b. 1970)—New York–based multidisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers incorporates objects and images—from antique quilts to African sculptures—into his work as vehicles for the discussion of history and race, a practice he has described as a "conceptual form of patchwork." Biggers is invested in the abstraction and color of geometric, pieced quilts. In Dagu, on view in this exhibition, he embellishes found quilts with his own abstract language, including cosmic and celestial imagery. His work invokes a deep, historical connection to lore surrounding quilt patterns, including their use as a coded language of the Underground Railroad, as well as to African-American art history and the ways in which objects can be endowed with ancestral power and protection.
Josh Faught (United States, b. 1979)—San Francisco–based artist Josh Faught uses textiles, collage, sculpture, painting, and archival materials to explore the construction of queer identity through social, political, and personal histories. Faught's works revel in the anxiety typified by a sense of isolation or disconnectedness, suburban self-help culture, and decorative compulsion—vestiges of which are woven throughout the structures of his handmade textiles, often staged as auto/biographic narratives.
David R. Harper (Canada, b. 1984)—Harper's multimedia work draws upon his interests in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century museology and methods of display, as well as turn-of-the-century educational and medical imagery. His pointed use of materials that require physical handling—manipulating clay, repetitious embroidering, intricate weaving, woodworking, or taxidermy—aims to create familiarity, but also reminds the viewer that history is active; it can be tactile and felt rather than passively read in a book.
Bayne Peterson (United States, b. 1984)—Peterson's work is an ongoing exploration of traditional and digital processes in sculpture. A linear-based pattern, in which perpendicular and diagonal lines merge with winding slopes, vibrant colors, and concentric ovals, repeats along the surface of each plywood sculpture, a nod to the virtual design screen. The work on view in MAD Collects is from a new body of hand-carved, dyed plywood sculptures, characterized by biomorphic and symmetrical components and the presence of small circular forms that appear as though piled or stacked.
Cauleen Smith (United States, b. 1967)—Cauleen Smith trained as a filmmaker, and her hand-stitched banners—including We Were Never Meant to Survive, featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and on view in this exhibition—build on her interest in the time-based nature of processions, which she sees as being a kind of analog film. Through her work with parades and pop-up performances, Smith has developed an interest in the textiles deployed in these settings (costumes and banners) both as a means for communication and as tools of protest.
Adejoke Tugbiyele (United States, b. 1977)—Charged with symbolic meanings, Tugbiyele's works investigate historical, cultural, and political ideas around race, gender, sexuality, class, economy, sex politics, and religion. They examine the role of religion in defining how we view our bodies, as well as the subversive role spirituality can play in the reclamation of healthy forms of self-love and acceptance. Her works encourage an unapologetic commitment to love in the face of discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, class, and religion. Tugbiyele uses a diverse range of materials, including wire, natural fibers, fabric, and wood, to create intricate sculptures, which are occasionally integrated into performances.
Dorian Zachai (United States, 1932–2015)—Dorian Zachai was a pioneer of fiber sculpture, one of the earliest innovators of the use of mixed media in weaving as well as the use of weaving to create avant-garde three-dimensional forms and figures. She was also an early adopter of the reconceptualization of traditional craft as fine art sculpture. Woman Emancipated, on view in MAD Collects, was one of six works by the artist included in the groundbreaking exhibition Woven Forms (1963) at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now the Museum of Arts and Design), which showcased the nascent field of fiber art.
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