Crafting the Future explores the role of craft in contemporary art practice. The last decade has seen a resurgence of various craft traditions and meticulous, labor-intensive, and time-consuming handwork, within the contemporary art world. Similar to the historic Arts and Craft Movement (1880-1910), which was a response by artists to the Industrial Revolution of the Victorian age, the impulse within some contemporary artists to return to the handmade is in part a response to the digital age and a cultural shift toward the virtual. Is labor and craft within contemporary art practice an antidote to the overwhelming prevalence of the digital in our everyday lives? Is there a hybrid art practice between the handmade and the digital? This exhibition features artists who use traditional craft materials or techniques in a conceptual way to explore issues relevant in today’s society.
This exhibition has been curated by gallery director Daniel Peabody in honor of the gallery’s 35th anniversary and Daniel’s role as gallery director for ten years. Launched in 1981, the gallery has focused on presenting prominent Northwest and internationally established artists working in a wide variety of contemporary media, bolstering a dynamic dialogue between the local community and the global art world.
Lynda Benglis (b. 1941) is an American sculptor, photographer, and filmmaker, whose abstract, process- based sculptures are often made from industrial materials, such as latex and polyurethane. Benglis is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts grants. Her work is in extensive public collections including the Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), The National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY).
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a French-American artist best known for her representations of the female form and dreamlike imagery through sculpture, paintings, prints, and installations. Her practice drew from both her childhood and interest in psychology to produce emotional works relating to sexuality, fear and memory. Bourgeois' work appears in some of the most important museum collections worldwide and has been the subject of several major traveling retrospectives organized by the Tate Modern (London, England), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY) and The Kunstverein (Frankfurt, Germany).
Josh Faught (b. 1979) uses both content and form in his woven, knitted and crocheted sculptures and installations to address issues of psychological attachment, desire, personal identity and community. Recent solo museum exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (St. Louis, MO) and the Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA) in conjunction with his Betty Bowen Award (2009). His work is included in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA) and the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD).
Ann Hamilton (b.1956) is internationally recognized for her large-scale multimedia installations, as well as photographs, performances, videos, and objects. For more than 20 years Hamilton has explored relationships between reading and writing, text and textile. In 2015 Hamilton received the National Medal of Arts awarded at the White House by the President of the United States. Hamilton represented the United States in the 1991 Sao Paulo Bienal and the 1999 Venice Biennale. Her major museum installations include the Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington DC), Musee d'art Contemporain (Lyon, France), The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA). Hamilton is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Sean Healy’s (b. 1971) work explores issues of ‘maleness’ and masculinity, accompanied by an ever present sense of irony. In addition to his one-person exhibitions at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Healy has also exhibited at the Betty Moody Gallery (Houston, TX), and Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR). He has received several important public commissions, including the Wayne L. Morse Courthouse (Eugene, OR), Pioneer Place (Portland, OR), the General Services Administration Headquarters (Eugene, OR), and the FBI Headquarters (Houston, TX). The Elizabeth Leach Gallery has represented Healy since 1999, and in 2006 published a comprehensive catalog on his work featuring an essay by Stephanie Snyder, curator of the Cooley Gallery at Reed College. Healy is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Jessica Jackson Hutchins (b. 1971) uses everyday personal objects and materials to hint at the dramas of love and family. She allows formal qualities free rein to create their own abstract and tactile languages. Her work can be found in the collections of many public institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY), the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA) and the Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR).
Dinh Q. Lê’s (b. 1968) work examines the intersections of Vietnamese and American history and culture. Much of Lê’s best known work, such as the photo weavings, focus on reconciling American images of Vietnam with Lê’s personal experiences. Having relocated back to Vietnam over a decade ago, Lê’s current work reflects his most recent perceptions of daily life and contemporary Vietnamese culture, while continuing to ask the audience to reconsider photography and its use as an artistic medium. In his work, photography is not only an image on paper, but a strongly sculptural and deeply conceptual medium. Lê’s work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Busan Biennale (Busan, Korea), the Vancouver Biennial (Vancouver, BC) and in a highly acclaimed one-person exhibition at the Asia Society (New York, NY). In July of 2015, Lê opened a solo exhibition at the Mori Museum (Tokyo, Japan) which then traveled to the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima, Japan). Lê is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Ellen Lesperance’s (b. 1971) work pays tribute to feminist activism and direct action campaigns. Knitted garments worn by women involved in demonstrations, sit-ins and civil disobedience from around the world are the focus of Lesperance’s paintings, for which she has received widespread recognition. The winner of the Seattle Art Museum’s 2010 Betty Bowen Award, her work has been exhibited widely including the Drawing Center (New York, NY), Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, (Winston-Salem, NC) and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Scottsdale, AZ).
Gina Phillips (b. 1971) is a mixed media, narrative artist who grew up in Kentucky and has lived in New Orleans since 1995. The imagery, stories and characters of both regions influence her work. She started her career as a painter, but over the years, has increasingly incorporated fabric and thread into her work. Phillips’ work can be found in many public and private collections including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR), Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation (Los Angeles, CA) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA).
Michelle Ross (b. 1962) examines the relationship between abstract painting and digital photography, a medium used to record, disseminate, and contextualize painting. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including those at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA), The Art Gym at Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR), Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), and Rome International University (Rome, Italy). In 2012, Ross was named as a Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts. Ross is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Mark R. Smith’s (b. 1958) work explores pattern and recycled textiles, creating unconventional objects rooted in a conceptual framework. Smith manifests his ideas through a labor-intensive process, transforming everyday materials into dynamic, thoughtful paintings. Smith’s work is included in a number of public and private collections, including the American Embassy (Accra, Ghana), CityArts Inc. (New York, NY), King County Public Art Collection (Seattle, WA), Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR), and Nike Inc. (Beaverton, OR). Smith is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
Anna Von Mertens (b. 1973) was born in Boston and currently lives and works in New Hampshire. She is renowned for her hand quilted fabric constructions. She received her MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts, and BA from Brown University. Exhibitions include a solo show at Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts (Boston, MA), 2013 Rijswijk Textile Biennial (Netherlands), 40 under 40: Craft Futures at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery (Washington, DC), and the 2012 DeCordova Biennial (Lincoln, MA). Von Merten’s work is in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), the Berkeley Art Museum (Berkeley, CA), the Smithsonan American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery (Washington, DC) and the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design (Providence, RI), among other institutions. Von Mertens is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.