Friday, August 31, 2012

Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design to open Sept. 1 at Mint Museum Uptown

Featuring more than 60 installations, sculptures, furniture, and
objects, Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and
Design explores the most cutting-edge conceptual and technical trends
in woodworking today. Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, New
York, and debuting September 1, 2012, at Mint Museum Uptown and
running through January 27, 2013, the exhibition emphasizes the ways
artists, designers, and craftspeople have incorporated modernist
approaches and strategies into woodworking—deconstructing vessel
shapes, playing on the relationship between function and form, and
utilizing woodturning and furniture techniques in the creation of
sculpture. The works, all created since 2000, challenge traditional
applications of wood within the design and craft worlds, and exemplify
the wide-ranging, frequently unexpected approaches to the medium by
contemporary artists and designers. The exhibition will subsequently
be on view at the Museum of Arts and Design from March through July,

"It is very important for the museum to present world-class special
exhibitions to complement our internationally-regarded permanent
collection during the Democratic National Convention," said Dr.
Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint. "Against the Grain:
Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design is a fascinating look at
the way artists and designers use traditional woodworking techniques
to create startlingly fresh work. Organized by the Museum of Arts and
Design in New York, in consultation with the Mint, we are honored to
premiere the exhibition in Charlotte. On behalf of the Mint, I
express my gratitude to Moore & Van Allen PLLC and the Founders'
Circle for their generous support of Against the Grain."

The exhibition features 57 artists and designers from around the
world, including influential sculptors Ursula von Rydingsvard,
Courtney Smith, and Martin Puryear, who will display one of his
furniture pieces for the first time; installation artists Gary Carsley
and Alison Elizabeth Taylor; designers Maarten Baas, Sebastian
Errazuriz, and Pablo Reinoso; and studio wood artists Wendell Castle,
Andrew Early, and Hunt Clark, among others.

"Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design aligns
beautifully with the Mint's commitment to innovative 21st-century
creative expression from a variety of cultural perspectives.
Moreover, the museum's collection is very strong in both turned wood
and studio furniture, most notably, the Jane and Arthur Mason
Collection, as well as recent major acquisitions; Joseph Walsh's
Enignum from the Mint's Project Ten Ten Ten series, and Silas Kopf's
Who's Chicken, Now? will both be on view during the exhibition," said
Annie Carlano, the Mint's Director of Craft + Design. "Beyond museum
walls,Against the Grain has a particular connection to our community
and region. The American furniture industry is centered here, and
until just a few months ago, the Furniture Society was based in
Asheville. Designers and makers live amongst us."

"Against the Grain is a complete immersion into the seemingly
limitless world of contemporary woodworking, an imaginative experience
where function is subsumed by fantastical forms and textures," said
Holly Hotchner, Nanette L. Laitman Director of the Museum of Arts and
Design. "The creators featured in the exhibition exemplify the
innovative practice that MAD is dedicated to supporting and bringing
to the fore. Their work defies clear categorization and draws together
traditionally disparate themes, ideas, and techniques into stunning
and surprising works of art."

Organized by MAD Curator Lowery Stokes Sims, Against the Grain is part
of MAD's ongoing "Materials & Process" series, dedicated to exploring
contemporary innovations in traditional techniques and materials, and
highlights the tremendous creative energy and fresh thinking that
creators are bringing to wood today. "Wood is a ubiquitous material
and a medium of basic function as well as tremendous versatility. In
the last several decades, artists have truly begun to test its
creative boundaries, expressing and expanding wood's aesthetic and
conceptual possibilities," said Sims. "The artists featured in Against
the Grain represent the forward-thinking approach that has spurred the
medium's renaissance."

The featured works fall into seven thematic designations that
encapsulate the breadth of creative production in wood. Many of the
artists and designers are inspired by wood's most natural state as
trees, utilizing branches, logs, and planks and creating works that
draw upon the wood's grains, textures, and patterns. Others fuse a
variety of wood elements together to create distinctly new visual
forms, producing a more powerful experience than the individual parts
might allow. Digital techniques have also transformed woodworking,
allowing creators to manipulate materials and produce illusions that
were previously impossible. The use of wood as a material to convey
political and social content as well as humor and visual puns has also
grown and been refined as artists experiment with the medium.
Additionally, environmental issues will be woven throughout the
exhibition as increased ecological consciousness is implicit in the
work of all contemporary woodworkers.

Highlights from the exhibition include the following works:

• Mark Moskovitz's fully-functional chest of
drawers mimicking wood stockpiled for the winter exemplifies the type
of camouflage and secret compartments that have long been an
intriguing feature of furniture. His Facecord Chest, 2011, was
inspired by the haphazard geometry of cordwood and the accidental
poetry in its stacking.

• In OddychajÄ…ca, 2011, Ursula von Rydingsvard
manipulates a field of flat 2-by-4 beams into an organic form that
gently curves out into space.

• Designers Ian Spencer and Cairn Young are
presenting their Roccapina V chair, 2012, a product of the Yard Sale
Project, which produces furniture that combines computer-aided design
and traditional construction techniques. The result is a richly
patterned surface resembling a volumetric quilt.

• Alison Elizabeth Taylor's installations of
illusionistic marquetry, which recreate architectural elements of
abandoned houses—including linoleum floors or painted and papered
walls whose many layers have been worn away after years of water damage.

• Maarten Baas' "smoked" version of a Marc
Newson chair, which has been torched and rendered nonfunctional and
yet maintains lyricism and elegance in its new sculptural form.

• A chest of drawers by artist Courtney Smith,
whose functionality has been subverted by the insertion of arbitrary
rectangles and boxes of plywood. The resulting sculpture challenges
ideas of structural integrity and authorship as Smith intrudes on
existing design elements.

• Ai Weiwei's 2008 evocation of a cluster of
grapes in his eccentric assembling of ten simple Qing Dynasty stools,
rendering the group useless.

• Gary Carsley's cabinet installation is part of
an ongoing project of photographing parks and landscapes all over the
world, printing them on vinyl, and then applying them to walls and
IKEA furniture. He plays with our sense of space as the print blends
the wall and furniture together into one landscape environment.

• Cameroon-born artist Barthélémy Toguo's
large-scale stamp, hewed out of a block of wood and engraved with "Who
is the true terrorist?," taps into the tradition of the woodblock-
printed image and evokes the political paranoia infecting recent
international relations.

• Chilean designer Sebastian Errazuriz, whose
Porcupine Cabinet, 2011, is a candidate in the Mint's "Vote for Art"
project. It is one of six specially-chosen works by some of the
world's top artists and designers that will be on display throughout
Mint Museum Uptown. Museum visitors will cast ballots for their three
favorite works. Visitors to the museum during the Democratic National
Convention will be offered ballots from September 1-7; voting opens to
the general public October 1 through November 9.

All media are invited to preview the exhibition at Mint Museum Uptown
from 3:30-5 p.m. on Thursday August 30 (curator's tour and
refreshments provided) or during a media drop-in from 3:30 – 5 p.m.
on Friday August 31. In addition, admission is FREE to all members of
the media throughout public operating hours during the Democratic
National Convention (reservation required). See more information about
operating hours at; to


Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design is
organized the Museum of Arts and Design and curated by Lowery Stokes
Sims, Charles Bronfman International Curator at the Museum of Arts and
Design, assisted by Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane, Assistant Curator at
MAD and project manager for the exhibition. The exhibition has been
curated at The Mint Museum by Annie Carlano, Director of Craft +
Design. Against the Grain is made possible at The Mint Museum through
generous support from Founders' Circle Ltd. and Moore & Van Allen PLLC.

The exhibition tour includes The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North
Carolina (September 1, 2012 - January 27, 2013), Museum of Arts and
Design, New York, New York (March - July, 2013), and other locations
to be announced.

The catalogue, published by Monacelli Press, includes essays by
Curator Lowery Stokes Sims, who writes on the conceptual framework of
the exhibition; Assistant Curator Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane, who
chronicles how history, environmental issues, and politics have
predicated the use of various woods; and noted writer on art and craft
Suzanne Ramljak, who will examine the enduring preoccupation with wood
in human cultures. It is available in the Mint Museum Shops for $45.


The Museum of Arts and Design explores the blur zone between art,
design, and craft today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity
and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world
transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to
digital. The Museum's exhibition program explores and illuminates
issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and
celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when
used by gifted and innovative artists. MAD's permanent collection is
global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the
present day. At the center of the Museum's mission is education. The
Museum's dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for
master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families, and
adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative
processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs.
Lectures, films, performances, and symposia related to the Museum's
collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary
art, craft, and design are held in a renovated 144-seat auditorium.