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September 2018

October 2018

Uneasy Beauty - Original, Personal, and Provocative

Uneasy Beauty at the Fuller Craft Museum
Last week, I was 3,000 miles and a world away from today.  Saturday, October 13 was dedicated to my first visit to the Fuller Craft Museum and the opening reception for the exhibition "Uneasy Beauty." The whole day was a rich experience. Why was it worth traveling 3,000 miles? Why even go to an opening reception? 

Uneasy Beauty CoverFirst, true confessions.  I went to this opening because there are too many times when I wonder why I make my artwork.  Perhaps like many artists, I spend so much time alone in my studio, experimenting on yet another vague and uncertain idea . . .  and wondering why should I try so hard or care so much
.  At such times, I can remember this opening and the images of my artwork on a brilliant fuschia wall at the Fuller Craft Museum (above.) The photo of my Black Plastic Gyre Boa-Constrictor was on the cover of the catalog for "Uneasy Beauty" as well. 

Wow!  It does indeed feel good to see this exhibition in person.  And the bonus honor to have my work featured in this way doesn't come that often. So, if and when I find myself at that uncomfortable, uneasy moment working in the studio, struggling, pushing, testing unwilling materials to look like something unexpected, a little shot of memories from the Fuller Craft Museum opening will help me push forward with the challenge.

At the opening events: It was a real treat to see old friends and meet new fellow makers (shown below).

Uneasy-beauty-exhibitrion-opening800
(left to right) Masako Onodera, Boris Bally, Curator Suzanne Ramljak, Harriete Estel Berman, Holland Houder

 

Uneasy-beauty-Boris-Bally-Brave72
Brave 4: Breast Plate, 2013
Boris Bally
gun triggers, gun bolts, and gun barrels, brass shells, stainless cord, 925 silver 26" x 11 1/2" x 2"

Notice that (in the photo above) Boris Bally is wearing his gun triggers necklaces so well with pride and bravado. They echoed the uneasy beauty of his Brave 4: Breast Plate necklace in the exhibition (left.) 

I finished and wore a smaller, special version of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace (above) just in time for the opening.   (It filled 85% of my largest suitcase and was definitely not a carry-on option.)  I can't understand why jewelry artists don't take the chance to wear some amazing examples of their work at openings.  It is sharing your work with an appreciative audience.

 

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Spoiler, 2009

Erica Spitzer Rasmussen
cotton, buttons, handmade paper, human hair
27" x 18" x 9"

 

 

The exhibition "Uneasy Beauty" has become my favorite exhibition in a very long time. Curated by Suzanne Ramljak, she carefully selected the artwork to be original, personal, and provocative. The exhibition overall and the individual artworks always surprised, expanded, shifted one's thoughts addressing diverse, difficult subjects.  But first, you were captivated and drawn in by the beauty of individual objects. 

(I will include a selection of images taken at the Uneasy Beauty exhibition in this post.)

 

 

 

Uneasy-Beauty-Sally-von-Bargen
Elegy by Sally von Bargen
The center brass disc says: "this elegy of truth-these lot treasures - lies brought this lament."

I wish that I could share an image of every artwork in the exhibition. 

Not one artwork was a dud. That in itself is an accomplishment. There are times that you go to a show, and there are pieces that you wonder, "how did that get in?"

Come on, admit it! We've all been to exhibitions where some of the work just does not measure up to the quality of the other art or craft. 

 

 

 

 

 

Uneasy-beauty-Sally-von-bargen-cu
Elegy  (close-up image), 2008
Sally von Bargen
brass, paper, digital photographs, paint
10" x 18" x 4" 

In "Uneasy Beauty" nothing disappoints the viewer either visually or conceptually.  Powerful artwork demanded thoughtful introspection such as Elegy by Sally von Bargen. ( I assume that these are photos of military personnel that have lost their lives, but I have not been able to confirm this.) 

If you can possibly go to this "Uneasy Beauty" exhibition before the closing date of April 21, 2019, I recommend you go out of your way or at least purchase the catalog.  

 

 

Uneasy-beauty-installation-victim-fashion
Uneasy Beauty exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA

Another striking aspect of this exhibition was the installation of the artwork.

There were subcategories for the organization of the work in the exhibition. (These same categories organize the artwork in the catalog.) The subcategory titles on the wall really helped with the visual flow of looking at the work. For example, under the Victim Fashion category, Spoiler (shown above) by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen hung on the wall near a pregnancy shaped corset by April Dauscha (left) or bra undergarments by Mimi Smith (below right.)

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Protector Against Illness: Black Tamoxifen Bra, 1996
Mimi Smith
nylon, lace tamoxifen pills, acrylic paint, satin hanger 16" x 15"




  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another superb example of the thoughtful installation of the artwork was one display case with four different collars by three artists.  White fabric shirt collars by Anika Smulovitz, silver Corporate Collar by Edward Lane McCartney and a worn black fabric Object of Mourning collar by Renee Zettle-Sterling held a close conversation when grouped together in a case.

Uneasey-beauty-collars
White Collar #9                                      Corporate Collar                          Object of Mourning:Impermanence#3
Anika Smulivitz                               Edward Lane McCartney              Renee Zettle-Sterling



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Mellitus Bracelets Installation, 2011
Doug Bucci
Mellitus bracelets, process installation, insulin pump, and Continuous Glucose Monitoring transmitter

There were many more excellent artworks within the exhibition. Doug Bucci's red Mellitus Bracelets Installation was one of my favorites. He doesn't hold back from sharing the personal experience of wearing an insulin pump as the most modern of accessories. What can be more uneasy and challenging than dealing with a life-threatening disease, and the impact of constructive or destructive lifestyle decisions? The presentation of the three red 3-d printed bracelets was very effective both visually and conceptually.  

During the evening events at the Fuller Craft MuseumSuzanne Ramljak gave an insightful slide lecture,....though perhaps a bit long, this slide lecture provided context for the selection of artwork. I love listening to lectures like this. I want to see gears working, the stretch that curator's take to pull together a diverse group of work.

This is a show worth seeing.     

Harriete

 

Uneasy-beauty-Masako-onodera72
My Dear, 2015
Masako Onodera
repurposed fur coat, parts from silver-plated coffeepot, oxidized, thread
12" x 7" x 50"

 

 


Fabulous and heart-stopping news!

Uneasy Beauty Cover

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa shown on a mannequinFabulous and heart-stopping news! That is what I would call it when Curator Suzanne Ramljak told me that they were using a photo (left) of the my Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa for the cover of the catalog "Uneasy Beauty" (shown above).
 
How did Suzanne know about this image? Because Suzanne discovered it on an ASK Harriete blog post Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?  
The post covered several of the mannequin shots taken on one of the photo shoot days. Maybe, out of 50 mannequin shots, Philip Cohen and I  had winnowed them down to five images. An exceptionally painful irony was that I usually only buy a few photos of each genre and had not purchased that one image, neither was it sent it to Suzanne Ramljak at an earlier deadline.....so back to my photographer Philip Cohen to buy another image. 

Being featured on the cover of the catalog is good fortune but also at least partially a result of two approaches that any artist can take for their own art or craft.

The first one is diving deep into an idea without reservation or hesitation. Going all out. Making an artwork for an exhibition without compromise is not the same as art or craft made for your customers. I believe it is necessary to put blinder's on and ignore market influences. Consumer tastes can be superficial, trendy, or financially motivated.  In contrast, speaking purely from your own artist's voice amplifies the potential to stretch into uncharted waters. Magnify a vision far beyond "average." Fabricate your dream. Whether this work will sell or not is irrelevant to the artist's vision. 



Black-plastic-braceletWhen Suzanne Ramljak and I were discussing work for this show I showed her a bracelet
(right) made from black plastic waste. I told her that I had dreamed of making a much larger version.  She encouraged this direction, pursue that dream and I  proceeded to make a Black Plastic Necklace Boa that was 26 feet long with my entire force of nature, full blast every available second of the day or night for two months. My family and I had to survive the two months of craziness. I took the deadlines seriously. 

HB61-9089_EmailFileThe other approach is planning the photography. Documentation and vision of the photos, while the artwork is in progress, can really help create a successful photographic image.  The quote from Louis Pasteur always comes to mind for me, "Chance favors the prepared mind."  What are the possible uses for the photo?  Can a close-up, full view, plain white paper background, model or experiment capture the artist's intent?  One photographic approach may be appropriate for a specific situation, and the model shot takes the photography in another direction. 

It is super exciting to have my work on the cover of the catalog. Super thanks to Suzanne Ramjlak who had confidence in my work to invite me to make something unknown for the show. She had unbridled optimism for the artist's vision without restriction. 

Black Plastic Necklace Boa from black plastic trash.The Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa will also be on the entry wall of the exhibition (I've been told) but will have to see for myself at the Fuller Craft Museum opening.  If you live near by or will be visiting Boston, I hope you will be able to see this exhibition.

At the Fuller Craft Museum, there will be a related exhibition in another gallery by MassArt students: Discomfort Zone: Fashion and Adornment from MassArt.  During the opening evening, there will be a live model presentation of some of the student works during the event. 

The festivities begin at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, with a not-to-be-missed Curatorial Lecture by Suzanne Ramljak! Who doesn't want to peer into the mind of the curator?  I for one can't wait!!! I am traveling 3,000 miles so I can get there really early.  Look for me there.

Harriete

Uneasy Beauty Reception Invitation

     

Harriete  

More Information about the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace can be found on my website.

Previous Posts in this series about photographing the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa:
 

Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details

Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?

Photography and The Plain White Background

Photography - More than Documentation?