The first rule of museum etiquette is: Do Not Touch The Art! Stern gallery guards follow museumgoers from room to room, making sure that viewers follow this rule. Low stanchions prohibit viewers’ bodies from getting too close to work, pedestal vitrines protect smaller objects from being and handled or stolen, and museums take great lengths to preserve precious works and artifacts from deterioration, by requiring art handlers and restorators to wear protective masks and gloves.
Yet artists have been pushing the boundaries of a distance-based artistic environment since the days of Dada performances. Fluxus artists Yoko Ono and John Cage created viewer dependent work, such as Yoko Ono’s instructional piece Painting to Hammer a Nail In, or Cage’s cacophonous sound installation, 33 1/3, involving a room full of records and record players. More recently, installations using relational aesthetics, body-heat-sensing video pieces, and viewer-reliant kinetic and mechanical sculptures are popping up in museums across the world.
Traditional craft forms are rooted in the idea of functionality, and as such, are necessarily created to be handled. Jewelry structures respond to the bodies on which they are worn. Domestic vessels are produced for use in the daily ritual of preparing and sharing a meal, and textiles are designed to provide comfort and warmth when they are worn. Even the surface quality of craft materials invites touching.
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is looking for artists’ response to this year’s National Juried Exhibition, “Touch: Interactive Craft.” Any work involving viewer interaction is welcome for submission; that which involves audience manipulation or involvement for the piece’s creation or enjoyment, or work that gains significance or emotional resonance by being touched or handled- without white museum gloves. Preference will be given to work that relates to traditional craft practices, but all media will be considered.
Emily Zilber is the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s first Ronald L. and Anita C. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts. Zilber is responsible for the MFA’s vibrant program of contemporary decorative arts, including guiding acquisitions and developing a presence for craft and design in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art and throughout the museum. Zilber oversees the Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery, a dedicated space for modern and contemporary craft, design, and decorative arts. This gallery opened in September 2011 with “Crafting Contemporary: Selections from the Daphne Farago Collection.” Recent projects include the exhibition “New Blue-and-White”, which focused on contemporary interpretations of blue-and-white traditions by artists and designers across media (2013) and the reinstallation of the Farago Gallery with works from the MFA’s permanent collection. Current projects include the exhibitions “Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction and Clay: 100 Years of American Ceramics” (opened January 2015) and “Crafted: Objects in Flux,” (opening August 2015), which will be accompanied by a full-length publication.
Prior to joining the MFA, Zilber was Assistant Curator at Cranbrook Art Museum at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She has edited and written for numerous publications, speaks regularly on topics related to 20th and 21st-century decorative arts, craft, and design, and is a founding member of the Boston-based consortium The Commonwealth of Craft. Zilber holds a BA in art history from The University of Chicago and an MA from the Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture.
All emerging and professional artists 18 and over may apply. All media will be considered including book arts, ceramics, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, painting, photography, printmaking, wood, mixed media, video, and installation submissions will be accepted. If a piece contains a video component, the artist must indicate whether or not they can provide any of the necessary technological equipment for installation. All work must have been completed within the last two years.
All entries must be submitted via SlideRoom (arrowmont.slideroom.com) by October 24th, 2015. The entry fee is $30 for 3 works. Image files must be a jpg. Format. Stills can be submitted for video, or installations, with room for descriptions of the work. Within descriptions, links can be given to view a video online.
Application link and more information …