Need For Critical Writing and Dialog About Beading
One of the major gaps in Bead World is the support of more open and frequent critical writing and dialog about beading. What it is. Why it is. It’s relationship to art. The relationship of current modes and techniques to historical ones. Contemporizing Traditional Beadwork. Adding dimensionality. Why there are numerous ways to work thru the same stitch, like Peyote, Brick, Daisy Stitch or Right Angle Weave. Design elements and rules of composition underlying beading. Beading structures. Documenting beading techniques. Forms and functions of beading. Sex and sexuality, wealth and poverty, emotion and no emotion, and other pertinent themes underlying beading. Comparative analyses of artists works. Use of color with beads. The relationship of jewelry as display item and jewelry as item as it is worn. Why beads have power. What makes some jewelry resonate.
Bead World lacks an academic center, which would encourage such discussions. Bead World lacks magazines and journals which support these kinds of discussions. Bead World is very step-by-step craft focused, and doesn’t tend to raise a lot of questions. It doesn’t tend to support detailed documenting of beading traditions. It doesn’t support urgent efforts to document and collect beadwork of rapidly disappearing ethnic groups, such as those in Dafur Africa. It doesn’t create a clear sense of what is good beadwork, and what is sloppy beadwork.
We have a recent history of beading in the US that began around 1960, and few people have witnessed the story. Few people have asked deeper questions of the artists and teachers who first brought about an unbelievable increase in beading in the 1990s. A lot of information has been lost.
The information could be used to broaden the field, attract more people into beading, and encourage experimentation, research, deliberation.
At the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon, they have created exhibits and ongoing discussions about criticality in craft, in general at least. Beading and jewelry come into play occasionally.
Their new discussion series — CALL + RESPONSE — is outlined on their web-site:
It’s definitely worth a visit. Be sure to read the full essays from each participant, as well as view images of the works associated with each essay.
Anya Kivarkis, area head, jewelry and metalsmithing, University of Oregon
Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft
Complaints about a need for critical writing on craft surface with great frequency. Drawing on the musical concept of “call and response,” this exhibition opens a space for critical dialogue and exchange between craft-based artists and art historians. From nearly three years of discussion, studio visits and exchanges of ideas, the resulting exhibition presents artwork and essays by eight pairs of artists and art historians, all of whom currently teach in Oregon colleges and universities.
Kate Mondloch, assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory, University of Oregon on
Josh Faught, assistant professor and program coordinator of fibers, University of Oregon
Knitting was passed down to me from my grandmother. However, I attribute most of my early experiences with craft to my time in summer camp. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I learned to weave before I learned to draw or paint. It’s a biographical aspect of my work that I still like to talk about since it locates my skill set from a time iconically loaded with issues of identity construction. In college, I studied art history and English but when I graduated I gained a bit more confidence in my creative abilities.
Abby McGehee, associate professor, Oregon College of Art and Craft on
Anya Kivarkis, area head, jewelry and metalsmithing, University of Oregon
For any student of material culture, objects provide the means for understanding social values, ritual and domestic procedure, and individual artistic development. Objects and structures are proxies for vanished makers and patrons, and remnants of the world they created. But there is always a tension between the substantiality of these physical remains and the absence of their historical context.
Kirsi Peltomäki, assistant professor of art history, department of art, Oregon State University on
Jiseon Lee Isbara, associate professor and fibers department head, Oregon College of Art and Craft
Hand-sewing, whether to join fabric pieces together or make a mark on them by embroidery, remains at the center of Jiseon Lee Isbara’s artistic practice, although she freely makes use of a sewing machine as well, and, on occasion, includes other techniques such as inkjet printing on fabric. A fiber-based artist by training and profession, the material and conceptual dimensions of Lee Isbara’s works simultaneously resonate with contemporary sculpture, particularly work by Eva Hesse and Mona Hatoum, and with the Korean textile tradition of pojagi wrapping cloths. Lee Isbara’s recent work involves pieced fabric stitched into patchwork forms and displayed in three-dimensional installations or two-dimensional wall arrangements. In any configuration, Lee Isbara’s work constitutes mental maps, visualizing territories that are coded and decoded in languages at once familiar and uncharted.
Dawn Odell, assistant professor, department of art and art history, Lewis & Clark College on
Sam Morgan, ceramics instructor and art chair, Cascade Campus, Portland Community College
Although the necessity for a division between the fine and decorative arts has been under assault for decades, the ghost of this separation continues to haunt discussions of contemporary craft. When considering ceramics, for example, the fine/decorative divide is often breeched by emphasizing the sculptural qualities of ceramics, both in terms of the objects’ three-dimensional form and also by assuming that the work is best contemplated from a distance. Sam Morgan’s art resists this conflation of ceramic as sculpture.
Rob Slifkin, assistant professor of art and humanities, Reed College on
Studio Gorm (John Arndt and Wonhee Jeong), associate professors, product design, University of Oregon
Understood in its most expansive sense, to design is to forge a possibility. Whether one sketches a preliminary study for a painting or sculpture, or draws a plan for a building or a piece of furniture – or outlines a draft for an essay – the act of design entails the projection of a desired future outcome from a present moment.
Matt Johnston, assistant professor, department of art, Lewis & Clark College on
Karl Burkheimer, associate professor and head of the wood department, Oregon College of Art and Craft
From Karl Marx to Clement Greenberg and beyond (and probably echoing as a refrain in this collection of essays), both craft and art are portrayed as heroic but losing enterprises within an increasingly pervasive dehumanization of life brought about by the growth of capitalist society. A tool-making species, in this apocalypse of our own creation, we are losing touch with basic hand-eye skills required to fashion, manipulate, and interpret objects; in effect losing the ability to re-imagine and re-make the world, and are instead becoming mere passive consumers of machine-fabricated commodities.
Anne Marie Oliver, assistant professor of intermedia and contemporary art theory, Pacific Northwest College of Art on
David Eckard, chair of the sculpture department and an instructor in the foundation and intermedia departments, Pacific Northwest College of Art
It would be a mistake, however, to view magic simply as a reenactment of social behavior, the logic of belief, or a mere lure or decoy by which attention is drawn away from some tasks in order for others, often traumatic or violatory, to be accomplished. In the final analysis, magic is far more disturbing than any conjectured relation between duplicity and consciousness, belief and disbelief, distraction and destruction.