The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art--Taking Shape: Recent Acquisitions in the Fine Art of Craft

This week the Daily Palette is celebrating Taking Shape: Recent Acquisitions in the Fine Art of Craft, an exhibition of decorative arts at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). This show, on view through February 23, 2014, brings together more than 80 extraordinary works of art in ceramics, glass, wood, and metal from the CRMA collection.

Taking Shape explores the shifting nature of the decorative arts and the play between utilitarian and sculptural qualities. During the past 30 years, the debate over the distinction between the fine arts and craft has been a contentious one. Some artists and scholars have dismissed the arenas of glass, jewelry, wood turning, and pottery as not the work of artists, but artisans. Their utilitarian functions have frequently been the characteristic cited for this differentiation. However, craft artists have been redefining these media, and many pieces created within these areas are not functional but sculptural. At the same time, other craft artists have worked diligently to advance the idea that a functional piece can also be aesthetically beautiful, much in the same way that a painting, sculpture, or print can be.

The CRMA embraces the traditional "crafts" as works of art and has been actively adding them to the collection. Taking Shape displays some of the Museum's recent acquisitions in this field, and underscores that while all these works celebrate shape, the collection in this area is also taking shape.

Amigos, locust, ash, cherry, 17-23 1/4" high, 1999

Gift of David and Ruth Waterbury, 2012.074.a-.e

Jack Slentz earned his MA in Sculpture and Ceramics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and his MFA in Sculpture from the University of Memphis.  Although he began his career as a ceramicist, he is now known for his sculptures made out of wood, glass, rubber, steel, aluminum, and concrete.  Slentz's work can be found in many public and private collections throughout the country, including that of the prestigious Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.  Slentz currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jack Slentz's website

Image and exhibition summary courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

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on February 06, 2014

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