From found street signs with baked clay decoration to beautifully tooled screws that draw attention to our surroundings, the CraftTexas 2018 exhibition at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft shines a spotlight on some of the most creative artists working today.
The 50 works on display, part of a biennial juried exhibition, were judged by Jennifer Scanlan, the curatorial and exhibitions director at Oklahoma Contemporary, from a pool of 173 applicants.
“Many of the works that I juried into the exhibition presented materials in innovative ways," she writes in her juror's statement. "Clay and fiber, used by humans for millennia, were revealed with unexpected textures and shapes."
From those selections, HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall is the one who took the reins and determined how to exhibit them.
“My job is to take Jennifer’s submissions and figure out how to make sense of her selections by identifying common themes and trends through the layout of artwork inside of our galleries, as well as by introducing text that provides ways to interpret the works,” Hall explains.
Hall is also responsible for coordinating the logistics and installation of the artwork from the range of talented and diverse Texas artists.
“CraftTexas recognizes them and provides a snapshot of artists who are working with craft-based materials and processes,” she says. “This year’s selection honors both master craftsmen as well as artists who are experimenting with materials and longstanding techniques.”
The biennial exhibition launched in 2008, and Hall says many of this year's selections harness craft as a means to comment on current affairs.
She readily points to Austin-based sculptor Tammie Rubin's Always & Forever (forever ever ever) series for its pointed commentary on the nation's lingering racial inequities that may never be fully healed.
“Clay as a material can stand the test of time and connects us with a deep-seeded history of political and social commentary found on different decorative wares," Hall says. "The conical shapes are hung at eye level, serving as ghostly reminders of the KKK and white supremacy. Using the sgraffito technique, Tammie has carved maps, into the underglaze, that date back to the Great Migration when her ancestors moved from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West to escape persecution. Standing in the gallery, looming hooded forms appear to be advancing into the space, giving a sense of unease.”
Hall adds that other works, such as Alex Goss’s YouScrew series, can call attention to places we pass every day and fail to notice. Goss works guerilla-style to install smiley-face screws in public spaces like airports and museums; Hall challenges visitors to find all 10 YouScrews scattered throughout HCCC.
CraftTexas 2018, thru Jan. 6. Free. 4848 Main St. 713-529-4848. More info at crafthouston.org.