Pioneering Women in Craft Exhibitions in 2018

In serendipity with Women’s History Month, The Craft in America Center is celebrating the contributions of pioneering women in craft with a line-up of exhibitions for 2018. Craft in America is dedicated to promoting the finest handmade artworks in the United States, and through our exhibition schedule, we will be presenting work by a slew of female artists that redefined materials, techniques, and conceptual expression.

Women have always played an integral role in the development of studio crafts. Throughout history, crafts have traditionally been linked with and indicative of gendered roles and domesticity, which has no doubt informed the evolution of crafts as an artistic movement. Although female artists have been at the forefront of the craft dialogue as makers and theoreticians and instrumental in the establishment of craft organizations and institutions, their contributions have frequently been overshadowed by those of their male counterparts.

“When we began programming for the next two years, we didn’t realize just how many luminary female artists we would be activating.” The exhibition calendar evolved organically and it just so happened that most of the artists we had selected for programming are female. Gender was not a determining factor in terms of selecting the exhibitions, but when we stepped back and looked at our schedule, they happened to mostly be women.

Our programming began with our exhibition, Circuitry, which featured the beaded, politically-charged necklaces of 2016 MacArthur “Genius” recipient Joyce J. Scott along with selected works by her proteges and peers including Sonya Clark.

Joyce J. Scott
Scott is one of the first artists to use beads in a fine art practice. She consistently depicts the struggles of Black Americans in the U.S. through wearable and sculptural work. Scott has given form to painful topics such as rape, toxic masculinity, and racism. Our current exhibition charts the influence she has had on others as well.
Sonya Clark
Artist Sonya Clark redefined the use of actual hair and thread-as-hair in artwork to depict the challenges and “otherness” of being Black. Since 2015, Clark has been unweaving Confederate Battle flags in a series titled Unraveling. One of the unraveled flags is currently on view at the Center
Mary Little
Little’s roots lie in furniture design, as one of few women in the field when she began her practice in 1980s. Little was an innovator in postmodernist furniture in the UK. When she relocated to Los Angeles in 2014, she shifted her focus from upholstered furniture to the upholstery, itself, with a series of wall hangings that have since become her entire focus.
April 21 – June 2, 2018
Arline Fisch
Fisch will go down in history as the first artist to use metallic wire with the methods of textiles. At a time when few, if no other, women were working with metals in the art world, Fisch revolutionized the material. She transcended the rigidity of wire by shaping it into organic, rounded forms.

Arline Fisch: Aquatic Bloom
June 9 – August 4, 2018

Kiff Slemmons
Slemmons draws on historical, cultural, and literary references while redefining decorative and historic traditions. She frequently approaches her works with the spirit of an assemblage painter, throwing into the mix various handcrafted components combined with manipulated found objects that illustrate deep meaning and poeticism.

Kiff Slemmons: Collective Presence
August 11 – October 6, 2018

  Pamela Weir-Quiton
In the 1960s, Weir-Quiton was one of the few females in the woodshop at CSUN. She wanted to put her stamp on woodwork and decided, instead of making a bowl, she would make a chic wooden mod-girl. Since making that initial doll and subsequent giant “dolls,” she has incorporated that aesthetic and the idea of FUNctionality. She has reminded adults and children alike how important it is to play.
October 13 – December 1, 2018