Tag Archive: jewelry


         

Talking Trudeau - Nixon - (Part 1:Tapestry Triptych (Left Section)). Helena Hernmarck, 1969

              Last week I visited the exhibit Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design at the Museum of Art and Design for one of my classes and it got me thinking about the whole art vs. craft thing again.  This exhibit is perfect for revisiting this issue.  The first floor of the exhibit deals mainly with the designer craftsman and pieces that emphasize a handmade aesthetic.  The second floor focuses on artists who really blur the line between art and craft.  It was really nice seeing pieces like this in a gallery setting.  I really loved all the textiles.  They have a lot of hand woven pieces there and you can really get a sense of the texture and fibers involved.  There’s also a bunch of gorgeous jewelry and interesting furniture.  A lot of the pieces do blur the line between art and craft.  One of the curators who gave us a tour said how she really had to fight tooth and nail to even have the word “craft” in the title of the show because some head people were concerned that people wouldn’t want to come see an exhibit of craft.  This makes me sad.  First because I believe craft deserves its place in the gallery setting but also because it shows that they clearly aren’t in touch with the growing handmade/craft movement that’s resurging.  I think there are plenty of people who’d want to see a handmade/craft exhibit; maybe not at the Met or MoMA, but certainly at a place dedicated to design and even started out as a craft museum.  It’s clear that at least some artists embrace craft and I think it’s time the art/gallery world did as well.

For more information on the exhibit and images from it visit http://collections.madmuseum.org/code/emuseum.asp?style=browse&currentrecord=1&page=search&profile=exhibitions&searchdesc=Current%20Exhibitions&searchstring=Current/,/greater%20than/,/0/,/false/,/true&action=advsearch&style=single&currentrecord=1

Mosaic Table, Lee Krasner, 1947

The Squick Factor

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Tom and Lorenzo about jewelry made from human hair (http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2011/07/kerry-howley-jewelry-collection.html).  I immediately had two very different reactions.  On the one hand I wanted to look closely at them because they seemed to delicate and intricate; and on the other I wanted to close the window and shudder because the thought of wearing human hair was so icky.  There was no denying the necklaces had their own type of beauty.  But there’s also no denying the squick factor.

One of the hair necklaces created by Kerry Howley

            So why is it so gross to think about wearing human hair?  We wear other animals’ hair all the time.  Even their skin if you wear leather.  And that’s fine.  So why no human hair?  You might be able to convince me to wear something made of my own hair, but certainly not someone else’s.  I spin animal fibers all the time, but I can’t imagine spinning human hair.  I’m not sure it’d spin up that well anyway though.  It’d probably have to be blended with another fiber.  But I digress.  People wear wigs and toupees made out of human hair and that’s fine too.  Maybe because it’s on a head where hair belongs.  Or there’s still that layer of netting or whatever between their head and the foreign hair.  I dunno.  I guess it’s because we view ourselves as so much better than animals that it’s ok to wear things made of animal parts but not human.  Even though personally I don’t agree with the wearing of real fur, the thought of wearing a fur coat still doesn’t evoke the same icky feeling as wearing a hair necklace. 

            This whole thing also got me thinking about the beauty of the gross.  There are certain things that while icky, are also somehow beautiful.  There are some things that you just can’t seem to stop looking at, even if they are kind of gross (and not just in a train wreck way).  I can think of a lot of examples of art that fit into this category.  Strangely a lot of it is religious art.  There are many Northern paintings of Jesus after his death that are really rather disgusting in their realism, yet the pieces are still beautiful.  There are also a number of various beheading scenes with blood dripping or squirting out of necks and throats.  I’m not sure if in this case the religious aspect of the works sort of negates the gross, or if it just shows that gross and beautiful are not mutually exclusive.

An example of religious squick - Caravaggio's Judith and Holofernes

            Certainly there are certain things that are just plain gross and always will be.  But some things are gross in an interesting way, and even some in a beautiful way.