The New York Times recently ran a story entitled A Return to the Artisan in the Art World by Alice Pfeiffer in which the author suggested that there was more “artisan” in art now than at any time in the past 25 years. Ceramics, woodcarving, glass blowing, drawing, textiles, and other craft oriented practices have been added to the language of a new generation of contemporary artists. Craft theorists are well versed in the art world and have been debating on how to contextualize local artisans with internationally recognized fine arts names like Andrea Zittel, Josiah McElheny, Tracy Emin, Sterling Ruby, and Simon Starling.
My first show at Kmac Into the Mix, will be an excellent example of the return to Materiality for 10 artists that have a relationship to the Caribbean. By default, these artists are engaging in a debate of cultural stereotypes because they are often defined by a region instead of the large human issues of their practice such as politics, gender inequality, and cultural identity. Further discussions around these topics will be included in the exhibition program.
Kentucky is an interesting place for a curator to engage in a discussion that question what is arts & crafts. Traditional craft workers are still held in high esteem in the region but for the most part have yet to formulate themselves in an international context. One exceptional example is the recently deceased Marvin Finn. Stay tuned.