In many countries, the winter months celebrate light. Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, celebrates the victory of light over darkness and hope over despair. The candlelight of the Jewish menorah reminds believers during Hanukkah of God’s ability to provide in periods of lack. The ancient Germanic and Nordic people marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, with the Yule festival. A Yule log was lit to mark the rebirth of the sun and the life it provided. This practice was adopted by Christians to celebrate the birth of the Jesus. In all of these celebrations, light reflects hope.
Visual art often reflects what is most important to people. At KMAC’s Winter Family Fun Day, we invite families to light up the season with art. The winter holidays are a wonderful time to laugh, create, and share. Family art making is a great way to do all three. But it is also a practical way to practice creative decision-making, problem solving, and cooperation. Designing a pattern, selecting colors, and sharing work are all necessary steps for creating a work of art your family will always remember.
This is also a season of reflection. There are many individuals who spend the holiday season without family. For them, making art is one activity that can bring joy. KMAC wants to provide the joy of art to young people at YMCA SafePlace Services. We are asking every family who attends KMAC Winter Family Fun Day to bring at least one new art supply to be donated to SafePlace. Imagine the sparkles of joy that can be created with new sketch books, drawing pencils, colored pencils, markers, paints, and brushes. We hope you will spend part of this holiday season with KMAC lighting up the season with art.
Winter Family Fun Day will be held on December 5 from 11am-4pm in the KMAC satellite space and pop-up shop, 611 West Main Street. RSVP on Facebook here!
Text as Material: Nina Katchadourian’s “Sorted Books”
On September 19, 2015 the museum opened a special KMAC In The Community exhibition featuring Nina Katchadourian’s Kansas Cut-Up from her ongoing “Sorted Books” project. The exhibition is located in the newly designed 40,000 square foot award-winning Southwest Regional Library building that directly serves the Shively, Pleasure Ridge Park and Valley Station areas. It is the first of three new similar libraries to be constructed in underserved neighborhoods.
KMAC initially established plans to present one of Katchadourian’s photo based projects to run concurrent with the 2015 Louisville Photo Biennial. When the idea arose to collaborate with the Louisville Free Public Library, using their beautiful new space, it provided an ideal fit for her “Sorted Books” series. It also supplied KMAC with an opportunity to create a public art exhibition featuring an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist who would typically never show in that area of town.
Kansas Cut-Up is the newest installment of Katchadourian’s “Sorted Books” series, which began over 20 years ago while she was pursuing her MFA at the University of California, San Diego. It was during this time that she began to hone her skills at creating art that focuses on the everyday and the close observation of the finer details of everyday objects and daily activity. Her work is made in common and sometimes unlikely spaces, such as libraries and commercial airplanes.
For her “Sorted Books” projects Katchadourian works in a particular book collection, culling books from a vast range of subjects and juxtaposing them sequentially so that their spines read like a short story, visual poem, or proverbial statement. This reveals the cross-sections of subjects contained in a specific book collection and also Katchadourian’s own commentary on these subjects inflected by her unique sense of humor.
Katchadourian subverts the normal function of the book by recasting them as objects to be arranged—not in alphabetical order by author, title or subject, but according to their proper place in the artist’s own narrative clusters. The clusters created by the artist behave not just as portraits of the library from which the books originate, but also as a portrait of the library’s owner. That person’s sensibilities, preferences, fixations, inclinations and fascinations are contained within the specific titles.
In the case of the 23 photographs on view at the southwest branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, all the books were culled from the personal library of the American writer William S. Burroughs. Katchadourian’s title for the series, Kansas Cut-Up, refers to Lawrence, Kansas, where Burroughs spent the last sixteen years of his life, as well as to the literary cut-up technique that Burroughs popularized in the 1960s. His approach to creating abstract narratives consisted of cutting up the linear text from newspapers, books and writings from himself and his friends and resequencing the material into new and often non-linear texts.
Burroughs was inspired by the work of the experimental multi-media artist Brion Gysin, who had himself rediscovered the potency of such collage techniques from the Dadaists, a group of European avant-garde artists and poets from the 1920’s who originated the use of appropriation techniques in art, music, and literature. As she manipulates the inherent features and characteristics of the book form, Katchadourian reveals her own personal literary collage practice, as well as providing insight into the interests and literary attractions of the complicated and compelling character of William S. Burroughs.
On October 1, 2015 Katchadourian gave a public talk at the Southwest Regional Library about the history of the “Sorted Books” series and provided further details on how the Burroughs project was conceived and implemented. After spending close to a week going through about fifty boxes of books, and a handful of bookshelves, she created 26 book clusters. Among the curiosities that occupied Burroughs, titles related to guns, medical thrillers, animals, and wildlife pervaded the collection. His obsession with cats was evident by the particularly large number of books he had on the subject.
Nina Katchadourian: Kansas Cut-Up is on view at the Southwest Regional Library until November 8, located at 9725 Dixie Highway.
The first in a series of post from the Ramona Lindsey, Director of the KMAC Education Department.
What is art? Is art an object to be seen? Or is it a functional thing created with the finest workmanship? Can it be a combination of beauty and function? Or is it the sharing of ideas? This post does not answer this age old question. Instead it raises more questions.
KMAC recently closed Food Shelter Clothing, curated by Chief Curator and Executive Director Aldy Milliken. His show included Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project. The installation asked art patrons to bring in items of clothing to be mended or repaired by an artist mender. In 2009, The Mending Project debuted at the Lombard-Freid Projects (New York, NY). The New York installation resulted in long lines and hundreds of mended garments.
While KMAC’s reiteration did not draw hundreds of participants, we did bring in a faithful group of community mending volunteers. Many members of the Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists (LAFTA) volunteered as KMAC artist menders. During their September meeting, Kathleen Loomis, a noted textile artist, led the group in a discussion of TheMending Project experience. Kathy asked me as KMAC’s Director of Education and fellow LAFTA member to share KMAC’s perspective of the project.
Kathy described Lee Mingwei’s installation as relational aesthetics. I prefer the more relatable term participatory art. Both terms refer to the artist’s ability to create an environment where the viewers or visitors become a part of the art through an interaction or performance. Mingwei’s Mending Project created a space where two strangers shared themselves through an action (mending) and conversation (storytelling). In participatory art, the artist does not force a particular outcome but desires spontaneous, organic responses. Kathy shared with LAFTA members her disappointment in the number of garments that were mended. Actually, KMAC hoped for greater community participation. But is quantity an accurate measure of effective art?
Also during the discussion, Kathy shared entries from a communal journal kept by KMAC artist menders in which they wrote their daily thoughts after their volunteer mending shifts. Kathy started by sharing several entries, each mimicking statements similar to “No mending today!” Then she read a question left by one of the menders which read, “There may not be any mending, but what IS happening here?” Finally, Kathy quoted her response: “I think we are building a community— not with people in torn pants, but among ourselves! If you’re not mending, would you add some stitches to my swatch and make collaborative art?”
Proudly, she showed us a beautiful piece of fabric carefully embroidered using the colorful thread Lee Mingwei selected for his installation.
Her readings compelled me to wonder, “What is effective art?” Does effective art challenge people to push beyond constraints? Does it prompt new questions? Does it provoke creativity? If the answer is yes, then I believe TheMending Project is an example of effective contemporary art. It allowed a community of textile artists using traditional hand stitching processes to engage with the community. The menders’ journal and Kathy’s collaborative art are a real life display of KMAC’s slogan, “Art is the big idea, craft is the process!” You can read more about Lee Mingwei’s art at http://www.leemingwei.com/.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC) announces major renovation plan to be completed in Spring 2016. After 35 years of artist support, exhibitions, educational programs, and community building, the newly designed museum will increase public space and open opportunities for continued growth.
Renovation plans aim to meet ambitious 2016 goals to engage 10,000 more children in educational programs, double the average visitor duration, grow with downtown development and Museum Row expansion, and double capacity for events. The design includes extra event area, redesigned education space, expanded MakerSpace, and a café.
“With all these activities and a strong community foundation supporting us, KMAC is ready for renovation,” said KMAC Executive Director and Chief Curator Aldy Milliken. “This new flexible, efficient design will help further KMAC’s presence as a downtown community art center.”
The first level of the museum will be transformed into an open, multi-purpose area that will serve as a comfortable gathering space for visitors, while maintaining a regionally focused retail space. Renovations on the second floor will create a streamlined space for national quality exhibitions to better contextualize artists in the community. Third-floor changes include a complete overhaul of the education center to create a better learning environment, accommodate hands-on activities and various group sizes.
KMAC has partnered with Christoff : Finio Architecture, a firm based in New York to bring these plans to life. The team has extensive experience with cultural center design focusing on preservation, including projects at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New Museum. For on site construction, KMAC will be working with Bosse Mattingly Constructors and K. Norman Berry Architects of Louisville, Kentucky.
In the fall of 2014, The Future is Being Crafted: KMAC’s Capital Campaign began to raise funds to provide ongoing support of art education programs through endowment and enhance facility space to sustain museum growth. KMAC has received pledges of 3.3 million dollars toward the campaign to date.
During renovation, the permanent collection will be safely housed in a climate controlled storage facility. The KMAC Collections Committee is meeting regularly and will continue to assess and grow the permanent collection. With new renovation capacity, the Collection will have a safer home at KMAC and more space to exhibit.
During the 4-6 month renovation time, KMAC educational and exhibition programming will continue, including external exhibitions, pop-up shops and events. The museum will begin renovation in September following the closing of the exhibition Food Shelter Clothing.
“This renovation time offers the opportunity for KMAC to engage in community projects and continue to build relationships,” Aldy Milliken said. “Art education, conversations and outreach efforts will continue across the city.”
Next month, KMAC’s photo biennial exhibition will be displayed at the Louisville Public Library Southwest Branch on Dixie Highway. Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project will be on view from September 19 – November 8. A public reception with the artist will be held at the library on October 1, 2015.
The KMAC education team will be collaborating with Louisville’s Commission on Public Art to create programming and guides for an arts exhibition to be displayed along the waterfront. KMAC educators will be regularly participating as artists-in-residence at regional schools, and the museum’s popular Mobile Museums will still be available for rental.
The new KMAC will open in Spring 2016 with the exhibition “The Material Issue.” This exhibition will create a dialogue with certain materials that are steeped in traditional craft. Refer to the KMAC website at http://www.kmacmuseum.org and follow on social media @KMACmuseum for updates and event schedules.
Louisville Mini Maker Faire: September 19, 2015
Programs with the Commission on Public Art: August 28-November 2015
By Hunter Kissel, Hite/KMAC Curatorial Fellow for Summer 2015
Hunter has completed his first year in graduate school pursing a dual Master in Public Administration/Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville; he is a native Louisvillian.
I received my undergraduate degree from Transylvania University in Studio Art last May and now am pursuing a Master degree in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville. The shift from amateur art-maker to aspiring exhibition producer has provided its share of challenges, namely in the language and art historical methods I now use. My personal appetite for participation in the broader arts community, however, has remained the same. The school year ended in the early weeks of May, and I began researching summer opportunities. I was soon offered a fellowship at KMAC.
As part of the Fellowship, I was given the chance to use KMAC’s permanent collection to display a selection of works in their Brown Forman Gallery. Director Aldy Milliken and Associate Curator Joey Yates often use the summer months to present works from the collection in a gallery setting, and this was sure to be a great chance to practice some of the curatorial methods I had been learning in school. KMAC begins planning their exhibitions as far as two years out in some cases, so completing the show in little over one month seemed like a tall order.
KMAC’s permanent collection contains works by acclaimed regional and national folk artists. Artists from Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia are heavily represented in the collection, and as a result themes of economic agriculture, religion, American identity, and wildlife are all very present. After browsing the catalogue of KMAC’s permanent collection and inspecting some of these artworks in person, I was able to narrow down my selection for the exhibition to about twenty pieces. I selected many of these Appalachian artists as well as some contemporary local artists working in glass, photography, or patchwork.
The selection process was not an easy one. While many of these artworks deserve to be shown, a number of constraints surfaced and I was unable to include objects I really admire. My conversations with Joey Yates were emphasized with the notion that “less is more.” The idea of a cluttered gallery made us uneasy, and subsequently space had to be compromised in order to include a diversity of artists as well as multiple works by the same artist when their breadth required it. Each object needed “room to breathe” (as the popular saying goes), and my selections were heavily influenced by the gallery space itself.
The final title of the exhibition was simple—Highlights from the Permanent Collection. There was no need to contextualize these works. The collection speaks for itself. The final display includes artists like Earnest Patton, one of the most renowned artists in KMAC’s collection, who carves human figures with precision and clean technique. His depiction of Adam and Eve is as topical as that of his mermaid or woman in a swimsuit. Minnie Adkins’ use of a fox motif translates fluidly from woodcarving to quilt, demonstrating the artist’s ability to execute in a variety of mediums. Carl McKenzie’s figures stand as anomalies, distanced from the comparable work produced by Patton, Denzil Goodpaster, and Junior Lewis. His splotched Lady Liberty and Red Cross Nurse are vibrant takes on popular subjects. Finally, Marvin Finn and his flock of familiar birds are at hand within KMAC’s collection.
The resulting exhibition advocates for the importance of collecting. Under Milliken and Yates, KMAC is transforming from an artist-represented gallery into an archival museum. KMAC’s current collection is a solid foundation for a more expansive holding of artworks. Highlights marks a checkpoint for an evolving institution.
Highlights from the Permanent Collection, curated by Hunter Kissel, will be on display in the Brown Forman Gallery at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft until mid-September. To see more from the exhibition, visit http://www.kmacmuseum.org.
The interoperability of Louisville—a boast for best city for jobs and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: We are a full-bodied movement—restaurants, life quality, home uniqueness, neighborhood simplicity, city art, brilliant theatre, healthcare metropolis, UPS hub to the world, and 16,000 job openings … good ones.
Another reason why Kentucky boasts Louisville as one of the best U.S. cities for jobs is our cultural “reachings”, our budding artistry ….
Recently, I went to a most unexpected glorious celebration of the human element—one of triumph and dedication, one depicting the loneliness of an artist in their creation of the soul, knowing they could bend and create something out of a material that was never meant for or discovered for such a thing as a “wearable.” The art of the heart was worth the suffering to get from the soul and into the crafted pleat of a skirt, the still of a sleeve, the lift of a collar, the bead of a shoe. But these were no ordinary sleeves, or skirts, ruffles or shoes.
This was #KMACCouture 2015— a fashion show fundraiser for the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, a title not worthy enough for the display of creative freedom that I witnessed as art lived in the embodiment of the dress, the construction of materials that were never meant to glide along the mellifluous elegance of the human curve or press into the sensuous skin.
The audience was us, the women of Louisville (and a few brave and stylish men). The “us” was gorgeous, clad in the clash of white, the din of expectation, a sea of lightness, airy like we were a pillowed cloud and whatever was coming through the curtain was going to float.
And float it did. The show started; it was a fashion show unlike any I had seen before.
Angst was in the tulle, hope in the sleeveless, bare of the vulnerable arm. Every cloak had a story, every piece a design the eye simply couldn’t get enough of. Details as exquisite in the front as they were in the back. Art from such unexpected mediums worn because they could be. Art reflected in the embodiment of the dress. The greatest expression of self.
The art of canvas, the harshness and lack of dexterity in the material and yet with truffles and waves molded into an elegance that became a most decorous evening gown; one that would find the party in the evening and could possibly dismantle into enough of a tent that if a young hangover got old, warmth and forbearance could be found in the heat of the bundle.
A gown made of broken teacups, time owned in a past era interwoven, sitting on the ledge of fabric, like they might on the edge of a cupboard shelf, but polished, vibrant and used.
Elegant beauty reminiscent of the 17th century English dress made out of duct tape. A Cinderella gown made of mini-marathon medal ribbons, of no value except to the individual who flees through 13.2 miles, but collectively make an invaluable moment.
A skirt made of matches.
A ball gown of mop heads, plucked from cores, flipped, dismantled, dyed into elegant threads along the husk of cardboard which carried the slight frame of the model, whisking her down the dusty path, a shine of elegance, its full skirt never forgetting where it came from and where it was going.
Centuries of style replete in silent materials of the day to day but repositioned to power up this glorious night in the city of many jobs and endless hope.
Every piece with worth, the eye of appeal. And then it was over and I knew I had seen more than a fashion show, but an exhibit of artistry that moved, flowed and flourished down the path of must. Because an artist, for we all are in our own capacity of depth, must be, or an artist dies. We must try, even if the piece fails because there is peace in the piece of attempt and then we try again. And that is good.
We are a city capturing the artistry of self where one can be unbridled in the brilliance of simply being.
Dianne H. Timmering is the Vice President of Spirituality and Legislative Affairs for Signature HealthCARE. For more information about KMAC Couture, visit kmacmuseum.org.
Since January, KMAC Educators have reached 887 students through twelve different artist residencies where KMAC educators go into the schools to lead arts programming. Each year KMAC education programs inspire 30,000 students through memorable art making experiences when they otherwise might have had none.
On February 26, Kat Lewis, a KMAC board member, retired art teacher, and practicing artist joined Liz Richter, one of KMAC’s Museum Educators at Indian Trail Elementary where she assisted during the last day of a three-day artist-in-residence program. Here is what Kat had to say about her experience:
“The residency was for the 75 second graders who were to design African clay masks relating to their current studies. I was assisting in the final step, which was glazing the masks. The children in the first group filed in from lunch and took their seats excitedly. They were extremely polite and respectful and were eager to show me their creations. Liz Richter, our amazing art educator, calmly went to the SMART Board and demonstrated how to glaze their pieces. Choosing colors, holding the brush properly, layering glaze, and mixing colors in the palette were among the vastly important concepts conveyed in the few minutes allotted for instruction.
Then we were off! We passed out brushes, water buckets, paper towels and glaze palettes. We answered questions and steadied brushes while admiring the wonderful nose on one mask, the incredible hair on another, and the craftsmanship and careful brushstrokes on yet another. Then, of course, the hour was up too soon. The children reluctantly put down their brushes, and we put the masks on the shelves to dry. Brushes were quickly washed and glaze palettes refilled as we moved to the next room of 25 excited second graders to repeat the process. And so it went until the third class was finished. We then carefully bagged all 75 masks and packed them up to take to KMAC for firing.
Yes, I wish we had had more time to allow the children to explore all the possibilities of clay, to have time to look at each mask and discuss with each little artist the creative choices he or she made. I wish there were a large airy art room complete with a full-time art teacher and a kiln in each public school, but this is why KMAC is so vitally important! Due to the reality of time and budget constraints, many schools cannot provide an arts education. KMAC offers, through its residencies and field trips, rich art experiences to as many eager children as possible. Our art educators are smart, creative, tireless, patient and superbly organized. Through their lesson plans, complete with vocabulary, “I can” statements, and ideas for connections to other content areas, our arts educators offer the classroom teacher a complete and meaningful experience. I am proud to be associated with an organization that transforms our community so positively on a daily basis.” –Kat Lewis