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?
First, 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).
(left to right) Masako Onodera, Boris Bally, Curator Suzanne Ramljak, Harriete Estel Berman, Holland Houder
Brave 4: Breast Plate, 2013
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.
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.)
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.
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 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.)
Protector Against Illness: Black Tamoxifen Bra, 1996
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.
White Collar #9 Corporate Collar Object of Mourning:Impermanence#3
Anika Smulivitz Edward Lane McCartney Renee Zettle-Sterling
Mellitus Bracelets Installation, 2011
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 Museum, Suzanne 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.
My Dear, 2015
repurposed fur coat, parts from silver-plated coffeepot, oxidized, thread
12" x 7" x 50"