American Craft’s Janet Koplos and Museum of Contemporary Craft curator Namita Gupta-
Wiggers

Call + Response, currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, is a layered curatorial construct of object, word, and idea that begins in the Museum’s galleries, extends online, and reaches out into the region’s academies and beyond, to the larger theater of craft theory in America. The show features work by those who identify as craft artists, visual artists, and designers, all of them professors. An equally weighted though less visible component is the set of essays and interviews of each artist by an art or architectural historian, also drawn from Oregon colleges and universities.

The show features Karl Burkheimer’s modernist wood sculptures, David Eckard’s slight of hand video, Josh Faught’s abject fiber sculpture, Anya Kivarkis’ “celebrity” jewelry sculpture, Jiseon Lee Isbara’s patchworked embroidered drawings, Sam Morgan’s surface-worked ceramic tea pots, Heidi Schwegler’s perforated pattern melamine dishes, and Studio Gorm’s prototype kitchen and mini-house.

As with most efforts by provocative curator Namita Gupta Wiggers, Call + Response aims to shake things up: to show art, design, craft side by side in a “craft” museum blurring what we think of when we use any of those words, to invite if not demand the attentions of art historians for craft, and to forge connections among the faculties of institutions like PNCA, Lewis & Clark, Reed, U of O, and more.

Art historian Sue Taylor in her essay on artist Heidi Schwegler quotes fashionable craft theorist Glenn Adamson who recommends a curatorial strategy to bridge the art/craft divide: treating craft as subject, as a “topic for conceptualization.” And it’s fair to say that much of what guides Wiggers’ work is just such a strategy.

“The objects on view reveal how each artist deals with the frisson between concept and materially-based practices rooted in particular craft-oriented techniques, media and stories.”

I sat down recently with Wiggers to discuss Call + Response at the Museum. Listen in:



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