You’d expect to find bamboo, cane or bark used as materials in an art exhibition on basketry – but hair curlers? Plastic zip ties?
The works created by the twenty-two artists highlighted in the Hunterdon Art Museum’s newest exhibition, Interconnections: The Language of Basketry, include everything from stapled paper to fabricated metal. Some employ found objects, others utilize clay, linen, or wire. Works range from a large interactive floor sculpture to a small intricate construction of metal and paper, but all are united by an inventive approach to an ancient craft.
“These artists employ basketry processes and concepts in dynamic and imaginative ways, challenging the common view of basketry as a utilitarian folk craft,” said Carol Eckert, curator of Interconnections: The Language of Basketry. “Experimenting with techniques and materials — sometimes referencing ancient methods — they create works ranging from large-scale, site-specific works to wall pieces, sculptural constructions and vessel-based forms.”
This exhibition looks to the present and future by emphasizing work created within the past few years, some of it specifically for this venue. It includes an installation by Pat Hickman, who has been prominent in the contemporary basketry movement; along with unique sculptural works by artist/designer Doug Johnston, whose line of coiled cotton rope vessels is available online and at shops worldwide.
Nathalie Miebach is represented by a complex sculpture which merges scientific and visual inquiry, and incorporates weather data from Hurricane Sandy as it approached the New Jersey shore.
John McQueen, one of the most influential artists associated with the basketry field, has expanded his repertoire to embrace sculptural forms of all kinds, including books, columns and wall pieces. All the works reference the basketry process, and while most use materials traditionally associated with baskets such as twigs, bark and vines, others — recycled plastics, zip ties and string — might surprise viewers. His work has been described as hovering “in the gap between craft, sculpture and conceptual art.” He is represented here by two works, one of which incorporates text.
Museum visitors are encouraged to participate in the interactive Penelope Project, which can be found in the River Gallery. The Penelope Project, created by Phyllis Kudder Sullivan, encourages everyone to carve their names and nationalities into the leather-hard clay arches that comprise the threads of the piece.Working at the intersection of art and interior architecture, Sui Park uses plastic zip ties in her sculptures, creating installations of flexible, organic forms which spread across the floor or are suspended in space.
“I brought the idea of interlacing to the forefront by focusing on the concept of weaving as a means of interconnectedness,” Sullivan noted. “It underscores a connected approach to life in which different threads are integrated into one tapestry.”
Other artists featured in the show are: Dona Anderson, Jerry Bleem, Charissa Brock, Ann B. Coddington, Emily Dvorin, Lindsay Ketterer Gates, Donna Hapac, Mieko Kawase, Jay Kelly, Heechan Kim, Nancy Koenigsberg, Tracy Krumm, Gyongy Laky, Jo Stealey, Gina Telcocci and Ann Weber.
The exhibition runs until Sept. 4.
Featured image: Emily Dvorin, Big Fat Hairy Deal, 2013, 17” X 25” X 18”, hardware cloth, hair curlers, cable ties. Courtesy of the artist.