Despite these last couple weeks of lingering heat, things are feeling very autumnal and back-to-school at the Craft Center. Our Craft in Schools team led by (me) Sam Sermeño and LAUSD school partnerships have kicked into full force as we host teaching-artist workshops, art tours, and field trips.
Lately, during field trips curious students have been asking me about our significant craft-art library, so we figure now is a good time to share some library announcements.
All are welcome to visit and browse our newly added Special Collections materials. Over the summer, thanks to generous art and literary patrons, we’ve integrated and catalogued four cubic feet of notable library donations. These recently added materials include books now blended into our general Dewey-Decimal organized shelves; along with a variety of niche art catalogs and unique artist paper ephemera found in our “Special Collections” labeled magazine boxes.
As always, we invite all craft enthusiasts and the wider public to enjoy our current art exhibitions and to browse our in-house library. We’re happy to collaborate with artists, curators, and fellow art nerds in general craft research and information resourcing as well. Currently, our gallery/library space (previewed below) features an interactive/browsable display of magazines, books, and manuals around fiber arts connected to the work of our Fall 2023 Influences-Influencers: California Fibers Exhibition.
The library is open to the public: Tuesday – Saturday, from noon to 6pm.
The Craft in America Center Library includes over 3000 books, exhibition catalogs, and more than 2000 periodicals dedicated to the art of craft and related topics.
Not only an artist, but a collector as well, Karyl Sisson produces her work from vintage objects that she has found over the years. Sisson takes the collected objects– such as measuring tape, vintage wax straws, zippers, clothes pins, and more– to create her sculptures. She manipulates these common, yet rare objects in ways that take a certain shape or form that fit to her liking. The forms that her works take are reflections of the images that she has seen in books such as A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science, Seeds: Time Capsules of Life, and Living Images: Biological Microstructures Revealed by Scanning Electron Microscopy, all of which are included in our library collection.
Although these books vary in topic, Karyl Sisson sees a common quality in each that influence the shapes and forms of her works. While Sisson does not directly imitate the images in the books, the patterns and shapes that are shown in the images provoke her creativity further and encourage her practice. For instance, the photographs seen in Living Images come from microscopic snapshots of various microorganisms. The forms that many of the organisms in the book take tend to be very unique and organic in structure, much like her works made from zippers and/or clothes pins. Following a similar concept, Seeds features close-up photographs of seeds that also take on unique structures and patterns. The images featured in A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe demonstrate how the mathematical principles are manifested into things like flowers, shells, plants, crystals, and the human body.
These books and other literature associated with Karyl Sisson are currently on display through July 6th, 2019 as part of the Karyl Sisson: Fissures & Connections exhibition for guests to flip through. Check out our Library during our open hours to take a look at the rest of the books in our collection!
The Center has spent the past year revamping its specialized library and cataloging its resources. We have installed brand new library shelves, which have given us plenty of space to house our over 3,000 books, catalogs, and magazines, and to display selected artworks from our permanent collection.
The new library project began last summer, when our previous library shelves could no longer hold our growing collection. We decided we needed stronger and more spacious shelves that would allow us to comfortably store our books and display our art collection. During the months leading up to purchasing and installing these new shelves, our staff became fluent in the Dewey Decimal Classification system in order to properly catalogue our books. While learning the DDC system, we acquired a subscription with OCLC and now any OCLC members can view Craft in America’s holdings on WorldCat.com! The public is also now able to view and search titles in our collection on our website at www.craftinamerica.org/page/library.
We hope visitors and scholars will make use of Craft in America’s vast resources. We are aways available to help with any inquiries anyone may have relating to our library holdings at the Center, please feel free to call us at 323-951-0160 or email us at info@ if you have any questions.
In the spirit of the SERVICE episode (premiering on PBS November 2nd*), we thought we’d share one of our indispensable references throughout the course of our research available in the library at the Center: Government and Art: A Guide to Sources in the Archives of American Art.
Founded in 1954, The Archives of American Art is an initiative of the Smithsonian Institution to preserve the voices of our country’s legendary artists. According to their website, “With over 20 million items in its continually growing collections, the Archives is the world’s largest and most widely used resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.”
In Government and Art, you can find the names of artists whose life and work has been documented by the Archives, including those who benefited from the G.I. Bill and many other support agencies like the Works Progress Administration.
*check local listings
In honor of our recent visit to the Maloof Foundation, we pulled this from our library:
The Furniture of Sam Maloof by Jeremy Adamson
(Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)
We just received this donation from the collection of Eudorah Moore, a visionary curator and champion of craft and design:
Hand Bookbinding Today, an International Art: An Exhibition Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in Cooperation with The Hand Bookbinders of California (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1978)
YES! And you can use it whenever you want (during the hours of 12-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday). Whether you’re doing research, working on a craft project, or in the mood to peruse, come and enjoy our space. We have a beautiful George Nakashima table at which you can sit and read.
What is there to read? Lots.
…or a whole shelf of books
Our Book Arts exhibition is officially up and ready for visitors! In honor of our exhibition I wanted to share the newsletter Umbrella, an amazing resource to learn more (or start learning) about book arts. Umbrella ran from 1978 to 2008 and was started by Judith Hoffberg. Phenomenally, every issue of Umbrella is online and it is completely free and accessible. Here are a couple of covers we particularly liked:
Clicking through the different issues it quickly becomes clear that the book arts were a passion of Judith’s and what better way to learn about something than from someone who loves it?
When you saw that light blue issue in the mail, you knew what it was. The whole field of artist books became my life and I wanted to share it with all of you. Although marginal at the beginning, it has grown into a movement, a new chapter in art history, one which is recognized by art historians, artists, and all of you. It has become almost too much now, with so many conferences, book fairs, and symposia to attend. And as usual, it has spread globally.
Judith Hoffberg, from the last issue Vol. 31 Issue 3
Here at the Craft in America Center, our library is a truly amazing resource for those interested in all things craft. This includes a complete collection of books from the California Design Exhibitions that ran from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. These books have some of the most beautiful and inspiring photography of craft and design we have ever seen. Not only are the objects themselves wonderful, but they were photographed in California’s natural beauty:
These books are especially relevant to us here at the Center, since we are currently planning an exhibition on craft in California from the 1960’s to 1980’s, which will go up in fall 2011.
Upcycling is the process of taking waste materials or useless products and creating new, higher-valued products. While the term “upcycling” has become popular over the last couple of years, the word seems to have been floating around since the early 1990s, and its spirit can definitely be seen through the history of craft. For example, check out this beautiful quilt from Gee’s Bend (below, left). These 1962 beer can chairs by Douglas Deeds Associates (below, right) totally fit the bill of proto-upcycling.
In 1962 Douglas Deeds said this about his chairs:
This design is a utilization of material which our society normally thinks of as waste. It may be that the designer will be called on more and more to use such materials in helping underprivileged areas of the world use waste.
The philosophy of Deeds’ words can be seen in the work of so many designers today, and finding links to the past gives me hope that current trends like upcycling are more design evolution then passing trend. Here are some current examples of innovative and beautiful upcycling: