The works in this exhibition demonstrate the transformative power of craft where disparate, ordinary materials in skilled hands go from inconsequential to useful, from unremarkable to revelatory. As you walk through the exhibition, you will find a mix of materials transformed into an array of objects—from dishware and orbs in ceramic to a cloak and bound forms in fabric. Bringing these distinct objects together where they are equally considered for their artistic merit underscores the Museum’s commitment to making connections and expanding understanding through art.
The Craft Invitational highlights a select group of regional artists who are pushing boundaries in ceramic, glass, metal, paper, textile, and wood. Each artist combines high levels of skill and craftsmanship with conceptual rigor. Playful and expressive details emerge throughout. Small-scale metal objects and jewelry demonstrate masterful skill. Large-scale ceramic, fiber, and weaving-inspired installations push the conceptual line and reveal aspects of the human condition, from spirituality and grief to renewal. Wood and ceramic assume classic and novel forms. Glass expresses protest and meditation and internal conflict. Paper plays with transparency and light. The Craft Invitational artists carry forward ancient skills in innovative ways, maintaining a tangible connection to our handcrafted past.
A five-member curatorial team spent the past year selecting the artists and artwork for this exhibition. This exhibition is a direct reflection of their areas of expertise: Darlys Ewoldt, metal artist from Chicago, Illinois; Don Friedlich, metal and glass jeweler from Madison, Wisconsin; Carole Spelić, mixed media artist from Mineral Point, Wisconsin; Delores Fortuna, ceramic artist formerly from Galena, Illinois; and Paul Opperman, textile and wearables artist from Dubuque, Iowa.