2017 St. Paul American Craft Council Show

One of my jobs is working at the American Craft Council Library, and every year, I get to work in the ACC Library booth at the St. Paul ACC Show. This year, it is the best yet. Forage Modern Workshop has sponsored our space, providing bookshelves, a coffee table, a couch, and fun chairs. We brought a good number of beautiful craft books and vintage Craft Horizons and American Craft magazines (published by the ACC) from the ACC Library for show attendees to browse.


We brought our vintage photograph embroidery project, using extra photographs that were sent with press releases for exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, then a part of the American Craft Council, now its own entity as the Museum of Art and Design.


One of my favorites:


Opposite the Library Lab is the Let’s Make pavilion with local organizations such as the Textile Center, Foci Glass, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Directly opposite is Urban Boatbuilders, a local organization that offers apprenticeships for area youth building boats. They did an ACC Library Salon, and it was such a treat to be able to attend. Check out past and future Salons; our next one is this coming Wednesday, April 12, with production papermaker Mary Hark.


We also brought a small sampling of items from our archive, including local favorites Warren MacKenzie and Joan Mondale.


There are more that 225 top craft artists at the show. I made my main purchase already at the Preview Party this evening, a bronze Seckel pear with a ferric nitrate patina by Laura Baring-Gould.


The patina is extraordinary on this little guy, 2″ from its bottom to the top of its stem. As solid bronze, it weighs in at more than 9 ounches.

I will have more time to browse the show tomorrow, and I will thoroughly enjoy it. The show runs through Sunday, April 9 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

A Common Thread at the Textile Center, 2017

A Common Thread is an annual exhibition of Textile Center members’ work. I visited today, and here are a few of my favorite things. Click on any of the images to see them full-sized. This is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and author and Holocaust survivor Fred Amran’s yellow star made a strong impact on me.

O’y ya’h ohdiwena goh: “Through the Voices of Beads”

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a beautiful town in Ontario; it reminds me of Charleston with its lovely old houses. There’s a great main street of shops plus an apothecary museum, and forts to tour – and I saw a mink in the park on Lake Ontario’s south shore two years ago, when I was looking across to Toronto. Here’s a reason to go there now, this traveling exhibition from the Royal Ontario Museum plus work by beadwork artist Samuel Thomas at the Niagara Historical Society and Museum. There are about 30 pieces of historic and contemporary Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) beadwork. The exhibit closes April 30. Read more on Niagara This Week. Even if you miss the exhibit, go anyway. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit, with lots to do and see in the area.

Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranaken World

This exhibition at the Peranaken Museum of embroidery and beadwork is one I’d dearly like to see. Blouin Art Info wrote a post about it, with a gallery of items included, as did the Straits Times. Peranaken Chinese are Straits-born Malay, descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago. Their beadwork is distinctive, and the shoes in particular are something I would love to see. If you are in Singapore before March 26, 2017, please visit!

Strung Together at the University of Oregon

Strung Together: Beads, People, and History” is open now at the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, Oregon. It encompasses thousands of years and six continents of beads, including 50 items from the museum’s permanent collection, alongside the work of contemporary bead artists including Suzanne Golden. There are also interactive activities. The exhibit is open at until February 5, 2017.

State of the Art: Discovering America Now

I spent a quiet hour wandering “State of the Art” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art recently.

From the website, “Featuring a diverse range of working artists from across America, “State of the Art” offers a snapshot of contemporary art that examines the ways in which people innovate with materials old and new to engage deeply with issues relevant to our times. Drawing from every region of the United States, this one-of-a-kind exhibition brings together more than 130 artworks ranging from works on canvas and paper, to photography and video, to installation art, and more.”

Following are a few of the works that particularly caught my eye. (Click on the smaller photos to see at full size.)

Joel S. Allen, Hooked on Svelte, was in the first room.

Joel S. Allen, Hooked on Svelte
Joel S. Allen, Hooked on Svelte

Laurel Roth Hope, Biodiversity Suits for Urban Pigeons. I like the description on the accompanying didactic text, that Hope considers herself “an artist who wishes she was a scientist,” and that her work bridges these two things.

Nathalie Miebach’s work is fascinating – each of these is derived from technical data collected during a specific weather event or period of time. Different types and colors of reeds represent different data: wind speed, temperature, tide level, etc. Read more about her work in American Craft.

Gina Phillips starts these works with a painting, and adds fabric and textiles in layers.

Pam Longobardi sources some of her materials from the plastic garbage patches in our ocean, prompting awareness of the destructive environmental effects of mass consumption.

Pam Longobardi, Ghosts of Consumption (for Piet M.)
Pam Longobardi, Ghosts of Consumption (for Piet M.)

Watie White uses traditional printmaking to create urban landscapes.

I have enjoyed Sonya Clark’s work for years, most recently at an exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and a lecture at Mia. This piece is Albers Interaction, referring to Josef Albers and his Homage to the Square series, with materials that reference black hair. Composed of thread-wrapped combs.

Elizabeth Alexander makes these of hand-cut bone china.

This is cut paper by David Adey, made from a three-dimensional scan of his body.

A lovely visit to a lovely museum.

Material Mythologies at the Minnesota Museum of American Art

Recently closed in the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s Project Space is “Material Mythologies.” From the Museum’s description: “Material Mythologies brings together textiles, beading, metal, ceramic, and glass by five artists from around the country, all of whom are working at the edge of contemporary craft and sculpture…With their innovative use of functional and non-functional forms, some of which include thousands and thousands of intricately assembled pieces, these artists and their works decode some of the entrenched assumptions about craft as they relate to gender, labor, history, and what is considered fine art.”

Following are galleries of the artists included. First, Teri Greeves:

Next, Sonya Clark, who also recently gave a talk at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Mary Giles, whose work I’ve written about before, and who recently gave a talk to fellow American Craft Council staffers and volunteers:

Helen Lee:

Jae Won Lee:

A wonderful exhibit. I can’t wait until the MMAA is fully open!