Once at the margins of the art world, today craft is front and center in art galleries, museums, and fairs, widely recognized for its expressive potential and cultural significance. On view at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) from May 22 to Feb. 13, 2022, Craft Front & Center brings together more than 70 iconic and lesser-known works, assembled from the eclectic richness of the Museum’s permanent collection, to highlight key touchpoints in craft’s history that have led to the current moment.
“Craft Front & Center captures the creative revolution in materials, processes, and subject matter that has transformed our understanding and expectations of art,” said Elissa Auther, MAD‘s Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. “Like craft itself, the exhibition is down-to-earth and democratic. We want everyone to experience the joy, genius, humor, and more that objects made by hand bring to the world.”
Challenging traditional thinking of craft as separate from fine art, the exhibition reveals the field’s deep engagement in art’s major movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism, while also launching its own revolutions, particularly the elevation of women and people of color as significant artists.
MAD’s collection comprises more than 3,000 artworks in clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood, dating from the post-war studio craft movement through to contemporary art and design. With an aim to subvert traditional hierarchies in the arts, the collection advocates for the central role of craft in art and society.
Toward that end, Craft Front & Center is organized into eight themes exploring craft’s impact: In the Formation of Identity, In the Gallery, In the Home, What Can You Do with an Object?, What Can You Do with a Thread?, What Can You Do with Clay?, What Can You Do with Glass?, What Can You Do with Craft?
Each thematic section is punctuated with pivotal and rarely seen works from iconic makers, such as Betty Woodman, Marvin Lipofsky, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. The exhibition also casts a fresh eye on craft’s pioneers; celebrating Olga de Amaral, Charles Loloma, Patti Warashina, and others who pushed the boundaries of materials and sought more inclusive sources of inspiration.
For more information, visit madmuseum.org.