Craft Forward Symposium 2011: A preview of "Manufractured" (the exhibition)
Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Game On, Move Forward,

Craft Forward Symposium 2011: Manufractured Clips, Capsules, Confiscated, and Commentary

Exhibition shot of Manufractured
My Grass/gras' is in the center of the
exhibition gallery.
© 2001
Post-consumer recycled tin cans,
steel base.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Watch the Grass/gras' video

The Manufractured reception was last night at the California College for the Arts in Oakland, CA. This exhibition was mounted for the symposium, Craft Forward. There will be a 2nd reception Friday afternoon as the OPENING EVENT for Craft Forward Symposium.

I will be blogging about Craft Forward in upcoming posts (every day) offering readers of ASK Harriete the digested version of each session. And depending on my overall impressions of the session and people's questions, I intend to write thoughtful commentary later...

My favorite part of going to any opening is meeting the other artists and making connections.  Although it just about kills me to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself, one never knows where a brief conversation may lead. Hbstanding My legs hurt too, from four hours of standing on concrete with a smile, but I met a good number of new people! Great! People asked for my card. Some faculty asked me to lecture in their classes next fall. Maybe something good will happen!

An art career is a marathon, not a sprint. This is just the beginning of a four-day marathon called Craft Forward Symposium.

What did I learn? Presentation is important!!!

Thought-provoking issues raised?
Should the jewelry be designed for display? EmikooYECONNECTIX 

 Questions Asked and Answered?
I am asking . . . Should the manufactured materials be transformed to a certain degree by the craft of making . . . and have multiple levels of meaning to be successful? What do you think?

Background and details about the exhibition:
In this post,
I am going to include images of work in the Manufractured exhibition with a few added comments. (I apologize now for the "quickie shots." I went early and had to do the photography quickly for this blog post.) 

Below are a few images with brief information and the names of the artists in the exhibition.

Manufractured exhibition for Craft Forward. This photo of the Manufractured exhibition (right image) includes my work, Measuring Compliance to the left (and close up below).


Measuring Compliance
© 2008
Materials include yardsticks, rulers, recycled oak floor, third-grade desk, chair, custom-made straight jacket, printed banners, tin.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Michael Pred Fear Culture1Fear Culture ©  2007 by Artist: Michele Pred included confiscated airport items like small scissors, razor blades, or tweezers. Each item was contained within a petri dish, a perfect metaphor for closely examining our fear and anti-terrorism policies. The large dramatic size at 66" x 80" and careful, almost "sterile" assembly were eye-catching, meaningful, and accessible. People had an immediate response to the confiscated items within each plastic case. I think this is because all of us have either had an item confiscated at the airport or witnessed something being taken from a passenger. Additional information about this artwork can be read in an article on American Craft Blog by Mija Riedel.

Dawning II © 2011
Artist: Emiko Oye
Re-purposed LEGO and Connectix,
recycled electronics cable, paint, silver
An Homage to "Dawn's Wedding Feast"
1959 by Louise Nevelson.

emiko oye's necklaces constructed from re-purposed LEGOS, Connectix, and make-up brushes were displayed on three mannequins against a gray wall.  This seemed like a great solution for providing some context for the jewelry and giving small work a presence within a large space.

Emiko Oye necklacesThe display of jewelry is such a challenge, especially when surrounded by much larger artwork. I think the necklaces looked a bit awkward on the mannequins, this photo looks better.  So here is a huge question... Should the jewelry be designed for display? or designed to be worn? What about a display designed specifically for the work?          

       Liz Hickok City of Jell-0




In the photo of San Francisco cityscapes (above left) by Liz Hickok, think city landmarks made of Jell-O, earthquakes, and the famous Jell-O wiggle, all in the same moment. It is especially interesting how Liz Hickok has developed a market for artwork made of Jell-O. The original work (actually Jell-O) has a limited "exhibition shelf life" but she documents the work for posterity with large full-color C-prints on Plexiglas. The prints become the exhibited artwork.

Mitra Fabian Binder Clip wall growth by  Mitra Fabian fabricated an organic growth on the wall using binder clips. The manufactured object of a common office supply assembled into a natural yet otherworldly appearance.

As a maker, I have a little trouble appreciating the final work. This seemed more like an "exercise" than a fully-realized art piece. What would have been more convincing? I tend to prefer that the manufactured materials be more transformed by the craft of making or have multiple levels of meaning. I wonder if the Craft Forward symposium will address this issue? 

Binder_clip The overall concept behind the work appears limited because the concept seems like a one-liner without deeper introspection. Did I miss something? Help me!

Laurel Roth's PMSquilt artwork titled, PMS Quilt 2008 consisted of blood-red hand crochet around pantyliners with additional embroidery. LaurelRoth72
I think that the photo right from the exhibition gives you a better idea. For some reason, I was not impressed. Maybe I am too tired to care, but shock value over pantyliner expositions that say the "f-word", are not enough Craft Forward for me.  Bornagainvirgin  

Born Again Virgin (right) was more cohesive, but the mounting and frame were inconsistent with the work. Lesson learned: everything counts. Artists can't say that the presentation doesn't matter. 

Two of my favorite artists in the show were Andy Diaz Hope and Thomas Wold. In both cases, I think the manufactured materials were transformed by the artists with substantive levels of visual impact and interpretation.

DiazCAPSULESAndy Diaz Hope used medicine CAPSULES filled with pigment(?)  to give the overall impression of a pixelated image. Look at his photos don't do justice to the piece, but this close-up to the left gives you a good idea.  It is a wonderful surprise when you walk up to the work to realize how he generated the images with tedious craft.

ThomasWold Thomas Wold makes artwork/furniture (if you can still call it furniture) out of bits and pieces of other furniture. Maybe at first glance, you might think it was kitschy, but it is really so much about bad kitsch and going "craft forward." There are multiple levels of conversation about the pattern, decoration, overabundance, illusions to design vocabulary, and good taste that fade in and out of fashion. I could live with this work forever. Can't wait till he comes to my house!

Overall, I can't wait till Friday at 3:30 - 4:30pm when I get to see the exhibit all over again. I need two days to digest tonight's information overload and reacquaint myself with the work and artists once again.


The Manufractured exhibition is curated by Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov. The exhibition is being held in conjunction with the Craft Forward symposium to be held at CCA during the weekend of April 1-3, 2011.  An earlier iteration of the Manufractured exhibition was at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft organized with MoCC curator Namita Wiggers.

The concept of the Manufractured exhibition is documented in the book 41+veDJYNuL._SL160_  Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects. This book link is an affiliate link. Purchase of this book may provide this blog with a few pennies.
The book is fabulous if you are interested in mixed media, re-purposed materials, recycling, and the use or remix of manufactured objects. The design and layout of the book are a visual feast. I don't recommend books very often. This is a book to own in every sense of the word.

CHECK OUT emiko oye's posts on Crafthaus with lots of images from the Manufractured exhibition at Craft Forward Symposium.  Manufractured Forward Visual Impressions  and Manufractured Forward Visual Impressions Part 2

This post was updated on January 28, 2022.