Object Focus: The Bowl / Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland
March 7 - September 21, 2013
Curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers
The Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) opens the second exhibition in its Object Focus series, Object Focus: The Bowl, on March 7, 2013. This two-part exhibition, featuring nearly 200 bowls, focuses attention on the most commonplace of objects, asking us to consider the ubiquitous bowl in new ways. As artist and PNCA professor M.K. Guth has pointed out, the history of the bowl is the history of civilization. Yet because it holds our cereal, our soup, our tea, our spare change, it becomes so familiar as to be overlooked. Through a variety of engaging activities, Object Focus: The Bowl invites the viewer to connect the work on display in the Museum with the bowl in his or her everyday life. The bowls on view range from the functional to the decorative, industrially produced to handmade, and span the globe geographically and culturally.
Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Common Things, Andrea Zittel’s A-Z Container, and conversations with artists, craftspeople, and designers about how they consider this archetypal form in their own work, inspired the thinking around this exhibition. Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum London, has written in The Language of Things that everyday objects like the table, chair, and lamp have been pulled into the realm of Design to become the Noguchi Table, Eames Chair, and Ingo Maurer Lamp. The bowl, perhaps too commonplace and familiar, has stubbornly refused to be co-opted in this way.
To invite a deeper consideration of the bowl, Object Focus: The Bowl will feature a number of participatory projects in the Museum and in the community, many of which engage the public in collaboration.
In Part One: Reflect + Respond, March 7-August 3, 2013, Director and Chief Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers has kick-started this process by inviting anthropologists, artists, poets, novelists, curators, and more to write 500 words on a bowl of their choosing from the exhibition. This is only the beginning. Throughout the exhibition, the Museum invites viewers to write their own 500-word pieces on the bowl in an effort to gather 50,000 words by August, 2013. 50,000 words is the average length of a novel, according to the popular National Novel Writing Month project. All contributions will be made available online at www.objectfocusbowl.tumblr.com
There will also be a drawing station in the Museum. Students from PNCA’s BFA in Illustration program will be contributing works on the bowl, and visitors are invited to contribute drawings to the exhibition as well.
The second part of the exhibition, Part Two: Engage + Use, May 16-September 21, 2013, explores the social role of the bowl through artist projects, performances, a symposium, through contributions by the region’s chefs and a project in partnership with Portland restaurants.
Ayumi Horie will create a bowl lending library that will allow visitors to handle handcrafted bowls in the museum and borrow objects to be used at home. For his project, Bowls Around Town, Michael Strand has created traveling trunks that contain a ceramic bowl, digital camera, and recipe book to circulate among some of Portland’s communities that come together around mealtimes. Area chefs, cookbook authors, bakers, and candymakers will make bowl selections and offer recipes at the Chefs’ Table. In addition, there will be a reprisal of Transference by Andy Paiko and Ethan Rose, as well as a series of performances by Craft Mystery Cult. Finally, there will be a symposium on Craft and Social Practice featuring some of the artists featured in Object Focus: The Bowl, planned in conjunction with Portland State University’s Open Engagement Conference.