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Maryhill Museum of Art Opens 2011 Season with Studio Craft Exhibition

Maryhill Museum of Art will open its 2011 season with a special exhibition drawn from the collection of Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft. Process and Presence: Selections from the Museum of Contemporary Craft, will be on view March 15 – July 4, 2011, and include work by 30 artists working in clay, metal, wood and fiber.

Process and Presence: Selections from the Museum of Contemporary Craft features 40 handmade objects created by artists primarily from the West Coast. Among those included in the exhibition are woodworkers Leroy Setziol and Sam Maloof, the first craftsman to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Also featured are ceramicists Peter Voulkos, Frances Senska and Toshiko Takeazu, jewelry artist Ramona Solberg, metalsmiths Linda and Joe Apodaca, and textile artists Judith Poxson Fawkes and Jack Lenor Larsen, a pioneer of post-war interior textiles.

An opening celebration will take place Saturday, March 19 and feature a lecture by Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and a keen observer of America’s contemporary craft movement. Herman will lecture at 3 p.m., and will be joined at 4:15 p.m. by Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, for a walking conversation through the exhibition. A full schedule of the day’s events as well as other exhibition-related programming is below.

The Studio Craft Movement
Since the dawn of time, craft artists worldwide have made functional objects for everyday use, employing craft skills ranging from weaving, to woodcarving, metalworking and building pottery. During the 20th century, renewed interest in traditional craftsmanship spread throughout Europe and the United States; as programs in ceramics, fiber, metals and wood proliferated, artists began experimenting and pushing the boundaries of these mediums.

Unlike traditional crafts, studio crafts embrace aesthetics as a primary function. Technical artistry is also a key feature. Many pieces are one-of-a-kind functional objects, but many are non-functional artworks that make use of craft techniques and traditional materials. The term “designer craftsman” was coined by textile artist Jack Lenor Larson, to differentiate studio artists from designers, and handicrafts from work being made by craftspeople associated with what has become known as the Studio Craft Movement.

Museum of Contemporary Craft
Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft is one of the oldest organizations dedicated to craft in the United States. It is home to a permanent collection of more than 1,000 objects that document the role of the museum and the Pacific Northwest in the evolution of 20th-century American craft. Founded in 1937 as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, the institution provided Depression-era support for regional craft artists, and over the years raised public awareness and the visibility of craft artists through workshops, exhibitions and publications. In 2007, the institution changed its name to the Museum of Contemporary Craft and moved to its current location in Portland’s Pearl District. In 2009, the museum integrated with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, making the joint entity one of Oregon’s largest organizations devoted to the visual arts.

Image: From left, Peter Voulkos, Green Swirls Vase, 1952, stoneware. Collection of Museum of Contemporary Craft, Osmon B. Stubbs Memorial Award Recipient, 1998.52.03. Vase with Leaf, 1952, stoneware. Collection of Museum of Contemporary Craft, Gift of Rose Fenzl, 2001.10.01. Gourd Shaped Vase, 1952, clay. Collection of Museum of Contemporary Craft, Gift of Dr. Francis J. Newton, 1998.93.47. Photo by Dan Kvitka.

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