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Era Messages: Selections by Garth Johnson

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Era Messages

Namita Gupta Wiggers introduces an exhibition of work from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Craft, guest curated by Garth Johnson.

Era Messages

In this installment of an ongoing series in which guest curators are invited to explore and reveal new perspectives on craft through the Museum’s collection, artist, educator and writer Garth Johnson makes his curatorial debut in a museum environment. After spending time in the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s collection and archives, Johnson found himself most drawn to works from the 1960s through the 1990s that exemplify the moments in which they were made. Right now, such works are often too quickly dismissed as cliché. Including pop culture-inspired ceramics from the sixties, fiber art made from macramé and yarn in the seventies, glass inspired by New Wave graphics from the eighties, and conceptual narratives of the nineties, Johnson’s selections reveal works that are as embedded in stylistic trends as they are in centuries-old craft traditions.

As styles and art movements cycle, repeat and build on one another, craft-based objects such as these on view in Era Messages challenge notions and perceptions about the timelessness of craft. Through this exhibition, Johnson asks viewers to consider a critical question:

Is craft at its best when it is categorized as timeless, or can craft be understood as a reflection of the era in which it is made?

Following an informal “residency” during the opening of the exhibition, and in conjunction with his CraftPerspectives Lecture, “Waste of Timelessness: Craft in the Present Tense,” Johnson will contribute an essay that explores his curatorial choices and his experiences “living” for several days with the works on view.

Garth Johnson is an Assistant Professor at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, CA. He writes about craft, blogs at ExtremeCraft.com, is the author of 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, and contributed essays to Handmade Nation and Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art. His DVD, ReVision: Recycled Crafts for Earth-Friendly Living, was released by Eyekiss Films in 2009. His artwork was also recently featured in a solo exhibition at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA. Johnson earned a BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MFA from Alfred University, NY.

CraftPerspectives Lecture: Garth Johnson

Era Messages curator Garth Johnson gives a CraftPerspectives Lecture on “Waste of Timelessness: Craft in the Present Tense.”

January 27, 2011 – July 09, 2011

Curated by: Garth Johnson

Museum of Contemporary Craft invites artist, writer and educator Garth Johnson to curate an exhibition drawn from the Museum’s collection. As Johnson’s curatorial debut in a museum environment, Era Messages focuses on works from the 1960s to 1980s that exemplify particular moments in the history of craft. As Johnson explains, “This exhibition seeks to examine work that is timely rather than timeless – craft that is evocative of its era rather than existing in the netherworld of timelessness.”

Garth Johnson is an Assistant Professor at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, CA. He writes about craft, blogs at ExtremeCraft.com and is the author of 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse. His DVD, ReVision: Recycled Crafts for Earth-Friendly Living, was released by Eyekiss Films in 2009. His artwork was also recently featured in a solo exhibition at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA.

EXHIBITIONS AND PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE SUPPORTED BY:

PNCA+FIVE Ford Institute for Visual Education

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation · Sue Horn-Caskey & Rick Caskey · The Collins Foundation · Maribeth Collins · Truman & Kristin Collins · John Gray Charitable Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation · The Ford Family Foundation · Meyer Memorial Trust · MJ Murdock Charitable Trust · National Endowment for the Arts · PGE Foundation · Regional Arts & Culture Council · Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation · The Standard · Mary Hoyt Stevenson Foundation · Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust · Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt · The Western States Art Federation · Whiteman Foundation · Ziba

With special thanks to: NWC Nick Weitzer Contracting and Willamette Week.