Category Archives: Exhibit

Hite/KMAC Summer Fellow Explores the Permanent Collection

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.

Denzil Goodpaster. Selected works.
Denzil Goodpaster. Selected works.

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.

Marvin Finn, Crane 1980
Marvin Finn, Crane 1980

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. 

Advertisements

Docent. Funny Title for a Fun Job

Docents are one of the best assets to museums. They volunteer their time to learn in-depth about exhibitions and then share their learned knowledge with visitors on guided tours. They field questions and comments about art, the process of art,  and who it is making art in order to aide patrons to a better understanding of something that can be intimidating. It’s a stimulating exchange of ideas and insight between guide and guest.

KMAC recently revived the docent program and we welcome Dana Moore and Gretchen Treitz Brown to the team of dedicated museum volunteers. The current exhibition The New Art of the Loom is their second exhibition giving guided tours. They also guide school field trip tours. Docent tours are available every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 3pm. Simply meet at KMAC’s front reception desk. There is no added fee for the guided tour.

We asked Dana and Gretchen to give us a few observations about being a docent and how they came to volunteer at KMAC.

Gretchen Treitz Brown
“As a docent, I provide tours to facilitate a rewarding museum experience.  I love to help the viewer connect with a piece.  I feel privileged to receive the training from KMAC curators and educators. At KMAC, there is a rich and diverse audience; my experience has been with local, national, and international visitors.  My conversations with visitors bring out more and different ways to view things–visitors and docents can interact and learn from each other.  Each time I give a tour, I notice something new.  Something magical happens when a visitor takes the time to contemplate a detail I might point out.  I tend to talk about my favorite pieces, however, it has been so valuable to learn about an unfamiliar artist or process.  Besides the continuous training process, I enjoy the additional reading and studying about each exhibit.  I can answer questions, thus offering a more satisfying experience.  My interactions with a piece are heightened when visitors share their insights, whether students or adults.  Because I have a significant commitment to the visual arts, it has been a joy to attend curator tours, lectures, exhibition openings, orientation, and on-going training.”

Dana Moore
“I first became aware of KMAC when my son was small and he participated in Winter Break workshops and Summer Art Camp.  I have participated in several hands-on workshops and even worked with metal in a session taught by Craig Kaviar.

I’ve always had an interest in art since childhood and love the process that goes into creating an artwork.  My family loves to travel and museums are always on our list of places to visit.

I am a retired Speech Language Pathologist who worked primarily in the public schools.  Volunteering as a Docent will still let me show students the process and creative thought that goes into a work of art.  I like listening to the KMAC staff and always look forward to learning and seeing new exhibits.”

If you’re passionate about art and love to share this excitement with others, consider becoming a KMAC docent. Email Dane at dane@kmacmuseum.org for more details.

Weaving A Community With Our Stories

Scientists have proven the positive health benefits we receive when we journal or create art to express our life experiences, so the museum presents the perfect opportunity for the community to do both. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, in partnership with The Little Loomhouse, present Weaving A Community With Our Stories, an interactive weaving project designed to initiate the discovery of personal stories that bind us together in hope and healing as a community. This project is in conjunction with the current exhibition The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and is open to the Louisville community and museum visitors until January 25, 2015.
KMAC contacted local community organizations (Neighborhood House, Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Gilda’s Club, Youth Detention Services, ESL Newcomer’s Academy, The Healing Place, JCTC ESL Students and others) and asked the people they serve to create story cloths to be used as the warp or first layer of the community tapestry. Participants received hand-dyed blank story cloths upon which they wrote their personal stories through prose, poetry or drawings. The warp consists of 100 story cloths that are interwoven on a large standing loom built by YouthBuild Louisville and installed in the second floor gallery of the Museum.

KMAC Educator, Sarah McCartt-Jackson, said, “the Museum has made and enriched connections with many organizations and voices that otherwise might be unheard, marginalized, or misunderstood.” Mrs. McCartt-Jackson helped in facilitating the students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC), which provide a great example of these powerful stories:

“Coming to America is a big dream for many people but living is different reality.”

“The languages of the world wake me up every day! I love the sea. I am snow. My name is your name. I believe in music. One world, many voices”

“My name is Mohamed. I was born in Somalia and grown up in Kenya. Came to America in the age of 19 years. My English was very bad. Coming to the United States was very good opportunity for my family and I. The reason I go to school today is to get my social work degree!”

The Weft Phase of the project is crafted by weaving in additional story cloths from Museum visitors, which continues throughout The New Art of the Loom exhibit (January 25). Blank story cloths are available and located in the second floor gallery.

The Little Loomhouse

The mission of the Little Loomhouse is to promote the Lou Tate landmark home and center for textile art and education as a cultural destination through preservation of the three historic cabins and education of textile folk art for all ages. The Little Loomhouse is owned and operated by the Lou Tate Foundation.

KMAC Current Exhibition

The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and Looming Local: Contemporary Kentucky Tapestry feature artists who explore a broad range of themes from cultural identity and formalism to storytelling and history through the labor-intensive process of weaving.

Looming Large

KMAC has gone stark weaving mad.

Artists from 16 countries currently fill our two main galleries with over two-dozen loom woven works. Shown in conjunction with the traveling exhibit The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry, KMAC has organized Looming Local as a response to some of the issues raised by the international artists. The works on view range in size and content from the large 8 ½ x 11 foot tapestry Porter with Bicycle: Espagne et Portugal by South African artist William Kentridge to the small, intricate and colorful weavings by Kentucky artist Tori Kleinert.

William Kentridge, Porter Series: Espagne et Portugal, 2004, 99 x 130" Stephens Tapestry Studio, Johannesburg. (Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)
William Kentridge, Porter Series: Espagne et Portugal, 2004, 99 x 130″ Stephens Tapestry Studio, Johannesburg. (Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)
Tori Kleinert, Hidden Semblance, 2004
Tori Kleinert, Hidden Semblance, 2004

The New Art of the Loom consists of contemporary tapestries that connect with the large, ambitious, narrative works that dominated artistic production in early Modern Europe. These early tapestries functioned as a decorative way to display a coat of arms, relay a familiar story or to illustrate scenes of victorious battles, but they also provided warmth, covering the walls of large drafty castles. After falling out of favor due to growing feminine and domestic undertones the tapestry was revived by British art activist William Morris in the late 19th century, making weaving fundamental to a burgeoning international design movement that promoted artisanship and hand-made activity.

Looming Local takes a peek at the immediate surroundings of the museum to show how four artists are exploring similar issues as their international counterparts and taking the weaving tradition into the more creative, expressionistic contemporary art form that it is today. Both exhibits combined communicate a broad range of materials, methods and multiple weaving processes. The four artists represented in the local show, though rooted in a loom based practice, are markedly different from their peers in technique and composition.

Spring on the Mountain, 2008, 30 x 62" Courtesy of the artist and Craft(s) Gallery, Louisville, KY
Dobree Adams, Spring on the Mountain, 2008, 30 x 62″

Dobree Adams creates loom woven works that capture the landscape in a manner intended to evoke the intermediate or transitional states that are associated with Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual and meditative qualities that imbue her work connect well with other artists on show in the museum who deal similarly with nature, particularly with the tapestry “Without Notice” by the Japanese artist Miyuki Tatsumi. Adams and Tatsumi are both drawn to the calmness of nature, but also to its power to change and dominate our lives in mysterious ways and without warning.

Miyuki Tatsumi, Without Notice, 2008 8'3" x 3'10"
Miyuki Tatsumi, Without Notice, 2008
8’3″ x 3’10”

Tori Kleinert’s small format works, though diminutive in size, are big in meaning and content. They pack in loads of bold color and act as deeply personal explorations of ideas and emotions often connected to the history of female craft activity. She refers to the figures in her work as ancestors or semblances, an evocation of the spirits who live on informing the work of contemporary tapestry artists from around the world. Kleinert’s Terroristic Semblance from 2003/2004 commemorates the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001.

Tori Kleinert, Terroristic Semblance: Destruction of the Fold, 2003/2004
Tori Kleinert, Terroristic Semblance: Destruction of the Fold, 2003/2004

A sharp use of color adds intensity to her subject matter and relates to New Art of the Loom artist Christine Altona’s work, also from 2004. Based on an article in the Boston Globe about alleged child abuse, Altona created this particular tapestry as a tribute to the children who have been abused in the Roman Catholic Church. Several red cardinal hats are placed at the top of the work above a knotted red circle, suggesting the strong and powerful looking down on the weak bound together in struggle. The blue represents the earth and the prevalence of this transgression around the world.

Christine Altona, Hallelujah-Boston Globe, 2004, 7'8" x 7'3"
Christine Altona,
Hallelujah-Boston Globe, 2004, 7’8″ x 7’3″

Arturo Sandoval is an art professor at the University of Kentucky and a well-known weaver from the region. His sole work in the show is part of a long running series that looks at American democracy and one of the most potent symbols of our culture, the American flag. Sandoval conceived the State of the Union series in order to work through personal issues related to his time serving in the Vietnam War. His desire to create a political art series was to commemorate the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost their lives in battle. The newspaper headlines and magazine images that are woven into this series were initially collected from 1980-1984. He has since continued the series as way to further express his feelings toward the recent war in Iraq.

Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, State of the Union No. 5: Baptism by Fire, 1984,  41” x 47”
Arturo Alonzo Sandoval,
State of the Union No. 5: Baptism by Fire, 1984, 41” x 47”

The most divergent work away from any form of traditional tapestry seen in either the local or international exhibit comes from Looming Local artist Philis Alvic from Lexington, KY. Her recent work consists of assembling remnants of older tapestries into fabric constructions, which she refers to as Portals. In this ongoing series of works, suggestive of windows, doors, and curtains, she intends to communicate the ideas of transition, passage, and change. Through the technique of fabric collage and drapery these works move into the more three-dimensional space of wall sculpture.

As Alvic digs through her own personal archive incorporating material from previous work she evokes the idea of the artist entering a metaphorical portal, passing from one era of creativity and production into another. In this particular series of works Alvic is weaving together remnants as well as personal histories. There are a number of transitional concepts related to creative growth and change that could be applied to this series. The idea of the portal as a signifier for moving from one period of life into another is an important factor in the life of every artist. It can often be a struggle to shift focus and enter new unknown territory, but it can also be a time when an individual artist develops greater clarity and confidence in their work.

Philis Alvic, Dark Entry, 2013 74” x 52”
Philis Alvic,
Dark Entry, 2013
74” x 52”

Pavilion Design Winner Announced for Centennial Festival of Riverboats Celebration

In August 2013, an international design competition was initiated by Louisville-based design practice PART Studio LLC for a temporary festival pavilion to be utilized during the Centennial Festival of Riverboats in October 2014. The design competition garnered international attention, with entrants from 16 countries and twenty of the United States offering a unique survey of contemporary design trends from across the globe.  The proposed designs are exhibited in Current Affairs on the third floor Brown-Forman gallery at KMAC through June 29th.A jury of regional business and arts leaders selected the winning pavilion on June 14, 2014.  The winning entry, DRIFT, submitted by Brooklyn-based design practice stpmj will be built as a temporary and multipurpose pavilion to accommodate a variety of uses during the riverboat festival. Stpmj design team members Seung Teak Lee and Mi Jung Lim are both natives of Seoul, Korea. Each holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Stpmj has an impressive track record with inventive design projects as evidenced by works such as Invisible Barn, a reflective structure proposed for the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York.116 Drift Winner

DRIFT proposes a triangular arrangement of eight foot diameter balloons that create a dynamic canopy over bourbon tastings, educational spaces for children and other groups. Jurors praised the project for its unexpected playfulness and relationship to historic river imagery. Jury member Rick Bell, a prominent Louisville historian, remarked that incorporating Louisville’s river history was a vital characteristic of the centennial celebration and one that required a unique expression. The design was interpreted by the panel of jurors as a type of inverted raft with romantic allusions to the journeys of Huckleberry Finn as well as the flatboats that once populated Louisville’s wharf in great numbers.The stpmj design team will receive a $2000 prize for their winning proposal, which will be fabricated locally for the Centennial Festival. The second place award of $1000 goes to Aaron Loomans of Milwaukee, WI for his entry, Paddle Flux.

110 Paddle Flux 2nd place
PEOPLE’S CHOICE PICK
First place in the People’s Choice voting goes to Centennial Paddlevillion, a collaboration between New York City based Metamechanics and Christian Duvernois Landscape/Gallery. Second place People’s Choice goes to Paddle Flux by Aaron Loomans.
112-  Centennial Paddlvillion Peoples choice winner
The Centennial Festival of Riverboats Pavilions is sponsored by Louisville’s sonaBLAST! Records.

The Waterfront Pavilion Competition jury: Rick Bell (Louisville Waterfront Historian), Karen Gillenwater (Curator, Carnegie Center for Art and History New Albany, IN), Augusta Brown Holland (Community Developer), Nat Irvin II, Strickler (Chair, University of Louisville College of Business),  Representative Joni Jenkins (Kentucky House District 44), Sarah Lyon (Photographer), Aldy Milliken (Director and Chief Curator, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft), Gretchen Milliken (Associate Director of Advanced Planning, City of Louisville), Kulapat Yantrasast (Founder & Principal, wHY Architecture).

Current Affairs: Louisville Waterfront Pavilion Competition exhibition will be on view at KMAC through June 29th.

Carrying the Torch: Walter Early Sculptures

ImageDenise Furnish and Walter Early: Color Stories Installation View

This is the last weekend to check out the exhibition Denise Furnish and Walter Early: Color Stories. Here on the KMAC blog we have explored the processes, motivations and cultural implications behind Denise Furnish’s repurposed quilts, and now we take a deeper look into the salvaged and reshaped forms from sculptor Walter Early.

Walter Early arranges broken and displaced forms into new settings and new relationships. His work, A Day in May, was included in last summer’s 7 BORDERS exhibition here at KMAC. In that work he repositioned a set of tobacco sticks, removing them from the environment they are typically associated and presented them in the gallery, on a shelf, leaning against a wall. This was intended to give new context, form and meaning to this common tool for curing tobacco leaves. The sticks take on a vista like quality where a viewer can get a sense of looking into a forest or a line of tress along side a road. This idea of play in altering an object’s former meaning continues into Early’s recent sculpture made from clay, wood, MDF, and steel.

For the pieces on display at KMAC Early sourced his materials from fellow sculptors, who had thrown out some of their failed experiments intending for them to be melted down and destroyed. Taking his welding torch and working in a similar twentieth century modernist language as Anthony Caro and John Chamberlain, he manipulates the shape, color and volume of his metal castaways. Once the desired form is achieved he power coats the surfaces of his sculptures in bright, bold, monochromatic colors. Caro and Chamberlain are well known for pushing the formalist art boundaries of modernist sculpture. They are important in the context of Walter’s work as they both represent the shift that allowed for a broader range of materials and practices to be brought into the art discourse. Early furthers the objectives set forth by these artists, maintaining the relevance for the appropriation of found materials. Through a series of rigorous alterations Early presents anew these remnants from other artists, providing a narrative for the material as it moves from its previous state into its new form. After reworking the borrowed metal he reverses a pivotal move made by Caro, who famously removed sculpture from it’s plinth, and places the finished works onto pedestals, or in this case onto whitewashed pieces of furniture, reestablishing the previously abandoned forms as artworks, elevating them to a new domesticated status.

My Neighbor the Artist

Written by KMAC Donors’ Circle Member  Merrily Orsini

Denise Mucci Furnish used to be my neighbor across the street. Before she was a known artist, she was an innate artist. Apparently born as such, she was encouraged by life’s experiences to make art whenever possible. I have a vague memory of meeting Denise, or at least seeing her work, as far back as 1970, when, in Lexington, I saw some cloth dolls she had made. Occasionally, these dolls still haunt my mind. They were ethereal dolls with little bound cloth bodies and round sock faces— beautiful dolls, and dolls that seemed to scream, “Let me out!”

It was a few years later, in 1979, that I ended up on Everett Avenue, across the street from the Furnishes. In 1980, Denise started attending the Louisville School of Art. Her quilts morphed from folded,piles on the top floor of her one time elegant and gabled three-story house, to hanging on the wall, as art. It was a bit later, in 1984 that I purchased my very first original piece of art, Salute to the Sun (Eclipse), from a real gallery. It was the first official piece of art that Denise ever sold. This quilt, made lovingly by Denise Mucci Furnish, still hangs proudly and emphatically, at the entrance to our home. I still enjoy it daily, if not hourly, and it is still as poignant as it was that first time when I was drawn to purchase it, even though it was well beyond my means at the time. However, that quilt is priceless when it comes to the enjoyment and the memories it evokes.

The years between 1980 and 1985 were some of the most interesting years as I watched an artist come into her own. The Mount St. Helens’s eruption in 1980 somehow consumed the artist across the street. There were many variations in her artistic obsession with Mount St. Helens. One of the most interesting, and, a variation of which I have now framed in my office for daily viewing, is making little volcanoes out of dryer lint. The dryer lint is screen filtered into a circular doughnut shape with a small hole in the middle. When dissected into fourths, it makes perfect little volcanoes. A housewife might see dryer lint as something to be cleaned from the filer and tossed, but not the artist. The artist sees opportunity. The artist sees possibility. The artist sees.

Note the color of the lint? It differs according to what is being dried—reds,colors, or denim. The texture also differs, and that is what the artist saw. Try tossing feathers in the dryer and see what happens (not to the poor unsuspecting clothes, but to the lint filter art fodder residue?) What about glitter? It is really amazing how much art can come from a common household dryer when seen through the eyes of the artist. And, those volcanic lint quilts and collages got better and better, more colorful, and more textured, until the eventual end of that dryer. And, for the artist? Another medium to explore with one exhausted.

A life making art. A life enjoying art. Are these two so far apart? I think they are. The artist has a special way of looking at life, interpreting it, finding ways to use common items or common visuals as art. That interpretation, of course, is not what the viewer, or the art collector understands, even when articulated succinctly by the artist. Because, as everyone knows, art is in the eye of the beholder. But the joy, sorrow, jubilation, and emotion are resident as well in the viewer of the art, and, it is this emotion that moves one to enjoy art, to buy art.

Denise Furnish & Walter Early: Color Stories is on view through March 16.