Erica Spitzer Rasmussen and the American Craft Council

I recently attended the American Craft Council open house, hosted in the ACC Library. There were more than 100 in attendance in the beautiful space in the historic Grain Belt Brewery, in a vibrant arts area of Minneapolis. The ACC recently moved here for our strong craft community, and as a cost savings from their former location in Manhattan. The director, Chris Amundsen, called the ACC “a 70-year-old startup” — they have an all-new staff, in a new location, and with the rich history and resources of the American Craft Council behind it. There’s going to be some fun activities to celebrate their 70th year at the traveling ACC Craft shows too!

The ACC is forming relationships with crafts organizations in the area, and will be having listening sessions with artists around the U.S., including the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, to learn how to better serve and represent craft. A social media expert has been hired, so the American Craft Council’s presence and resources will be more visible. To that end, there’s plans to digitize some of the unique resources of the library’s collection, valuable to visual artists. The library will providing exhibition space for artists — the artist on display now is Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, in attendance at the open house.

Erica needed a display space for an upcoming TPT show (our local public television station); she is being honored as a Minnesota Original, her air date likely to be sometime in January. TPT interviews established and upcoming artists in all arts disciplines throughout Minnesota for this weekly show. Happy coincidence brought her in contact with the office manager for ACC, and Erica’s art became its first artist installation. “Impromptu” is on display at the American Crafts Council headquarters at 1224 Marshall St. NE in Minneapolis until January 14th. The offices are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Approximately 10 pieces are on display. Erica is a mixed media artist and associate professor of studio arts; her art on display was wearable art using paper, buttons — found objects of all types. I really like her emphasis on shape, and her chosen materials thoughtfully enhance each piece and its meaning. She graciously offered to send me her professional photographs of her work. The displayed descriptions of her works are transcribed beneath the images. Enjoy!

“Spoiler, 2009

mixed media with handmade paper (cotton acrylics, shell, plastic, brass, waxed linen thread and human hair)

Like the aerodynamic flares that often accompany streamlined vehicles, these pannier-like structures are intended to redefine or amplify a woman’s natural shape. Similarly, spoiler could also mean one or that which spoils. The term could make reference to fleeting femininity, such as in the case of errant hairs on an otherwise tidy and attractive female form.”

“Garment of Fortune, 2010

mixed media (2,200 fortune cookie fortunes, Rit dye, Chinese inks, acrylics, commercial papers, cotton thread and Orange Pekoe tea)

I’ve been reading a lot of Lisa See’s novels recently. See is an American novelist of Chinese ancestry who writes about women’s experiences in China throughout different historic eras. Every time I finish one of her books, I contemplate how fortunate I am to be a woman living in 21st century America. I’m grateful to live in a time and place where I’ve had access to an education, a career, indoor plumbing, and antibiotics. Like the fortune cookie (which is a Chinese-American invention), this “lucky red” garment represents my good fortune.”

Please visit the American Crafts Council in Minneapolis to see Erica’s work, and to learn of the resources of the American Crafts Council. I met many of the staff, and I’m delighted with their enthusiasm for their mission and their new home. I took some pictures with my camera phone of many of Erica’s other works. I will perhaps write another post containing a few of those photographs, if my images are good enough.

Added 12/20: Here is another post with a few more photographs of Erica’s work.

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