The Dubuque Museum of Art

2nd Craft Invitational


About the Exhibition:

There is a distinct sense of playfulness and ingenuity in many of the works in the Dubuque Museum of Art’s 2nd Craft Invitational. Hand-in-hand with this goes a penchant for the unexpected. What one thinks an object is made of may not be necessarily true - ceramic resembles metal, metal looks like ceramic, and metal, on closer inspection, is found to be wood. Inspired and imaginative, these delightfully deceptive works take on such diverse forms as glass fruit, walking teapots, sardine spoons, mushroom books, paper kimonos, metal bird nests, and an elegant necklace of seed vials. These are just a few of the fanciful objects that will entice, divert, and amaze your senses.

The 2nd DUMA Craft Invitational maintains its focus on original works that are pushing the boundaries of skill, sophistication, and artistic concept. In 2018 the focus was on the functionality of the object. For 2020, we are focusing on materials - ceramic, glass, wood, paper, and metal. From these basic, familiar materials comes insight and complexity. The artists in this exhibition are transforming raw materials into innovative, meaningful works of art. In the process, they are not only keeping traditional craft techniques alive, they are blazing new technical and creative paths for future craft artists.

This regional survey of contemporary craft, is intended to bring greater recognition to craftspeople at a time when there is continued interest in skill and craftsmanship in the creative arts. The exhibition offers a deeper understanding and experience of craft for visitors. Craft objects are traditionally made for some type of physical use - a vessel, an adornment, a utensil - and often this single distinction is how craft is perceived. In a museum setting, by removing the experience of the physical use of the craft object, and instead emphasizing contemplation of the object, use of materials, perception of forms, and comparison of characteristics, we are providing a critical and theoretical framework not typically associated with craft. We hope by definition and example to turn the tables on the notion that took root in the Renaissance when the “fine arts” were assigned preeminence over items made by the skilled hands of craftspeople.

Statements from the Craft Invitational Curatorial Team

al"Crafted objects exist in multi-dimensional platforms and engage the heart and mind through one's eyes and hands. It is this possibility of engagement and human interaction which gives magic to crafted objects. This exhibition gathers the work of exceptional regional artist craftsmen to showcase their ingenuity and skill working in both traditional and non-traditional methods and materials. Enjoy!"



"For this 2nd Craft Invitational, it was a pleasure to invite artists whose work I admire, and great fun to be introduced to many more by the curatorial team. In this region of the Midwest, fine craft continues to blur the line with fine art, in ways I just hadn’t thought about. The exhibition truly is a celebration of ingenuity, art, craft, and solutions. Whether you’re able to step inside the museum, or are viewing this exhibition virtually, my charge to you is this: Stay Curious!"



"When a Museum of Art mounts a Craft Invitational, it affirms the truth of the essential co-dependence between Art and Craft. I’ve had an aversion to the synthetic (I believe) distinction between Art and Craft for decades. I don’t believe that Art can exist without some level of Craft, and I challenge anyone to carefully examine a piece of Craft without finding some Art in it. So, what a delight to have the opportunity to review a passel of regionally-made objects – from metal to paper to ceramic and beyond – and discuss their merits with a handful of astute and well-informed colleagues!

Each of the curators and DMA staff arrived at our in-person sessions with their own interests regarding media, process, and aesthetics. We shared information about technical concerns like glazes, hardware, and finishes, but also the fascinating backgrounds of many of the creators. Considerations for installation within the DMA galleries and on the grounds were discussed as specific works were chosen – the exhibition as a unified experience came into focus during these meetings.

The DUMA 2nd Craft Invitational show proves that an astonishingly high level of “craftsmanship” exists within a few hundred miles of Dubuque. I would argue that this caliber of fabrication is matched by an exceptional awareness of the artistic qualities of the objects on display. Please enjoy each item for its unique treatment of material. Explore both visual and functional aspects. And finally, reflect on how your experience of the show is guided by the arrangement of the selected articles within the galleries - it’s an aesthetic project of its own."


Your Safety:

All of us at the museum feel extremely fortunate to be able to bring this exhibition to fruition during these challenging and uncertain times when so many things in our city and beyond have been canceled or postponed. As we all try to make the best of these recent life-altering circumstances and learn a new set of behaviors and practices, this exhibition has been no exception. When the decision was made to cautiously proceed with the exhibition, we took the opportunity to put some of these practices in place. The layout of Craft was expanded to encourage social distancing for visitors that wish to experience the exhibition in person. We knew that many would still be unable to visit for a variety of reasons. This meant making the exhibition available online. We are grateful to all our visitors – those who come to the museum in person and those who “visit” virtually. We are indebted to the artists who remained patient during the inevitable changes that occurred as we adjusted to an evolving set of circumstances. We are grateful to the curatorial team who did a great deal of preparation before there was any inkling of a pandemic and subsequent shut-down. Their groundwork put us in good stead once we were able to go forward with the exhibition. If you are able to visit us for the craft invitational, you will have to wear a face mask, sanitize your hands, and practice social distancing. With these safety measures in place we will all have a little more peace of mind while experiencing this beautiful, fun, and inspiring exhibition.


Educational programming for the exhibition will focus on online engagement. This includes posts about leading figures and schools associated with the Craft movement as well as a series of activities for young people inspired by works in the exhibition. Online social media posts and the activities will revolve around three underlying themes: inspire, experiment, and transform. Check out the Craft LEARN and SOCIAL pages for more information.

Guide By Cell

Listening Ear Icon

The Dubuque Museum of Art now offers Guide By Cell Audio Tours to educate and share information with our patrons through their mobile devices. These self-directed tours allow a patron to learn more about a current exhibition at their own pace. Look for the Guide By Cell logo in each of our galleries & enjoy your tour!


Call (563) 293-3758 and enter the stop number located on the object label (example: #1) when prompted. Stop numbers are posted throughout the exhibition.