Philadelphia Art Alliance Blog

PAA announces new fall exhibition!

State of the Union: Contemporary Craft in Dialogue

September 17th, 2009 to January 3rd, 2010

Throughout the first and second floor galleries the Philadelphia Art Alliance (PAA) will present the group exhibition State of the Union: Contemporary Craft in Dialogue. Featuring the work of 12 artists in variety of media, the exhibit was organized by Melissa Caldwell, Director of Exhibitions at the PAA. An opening reception will be held on September 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

About the Exhibition:
Within contemporary art, there has been a well-noted renewal of interest in process and materials in the current practices of artists, designers, and architects. Consequently scholars and professionals have begun to consider the definition of craft outside the tightly defined perimeters that have been determined by history to be an anti-theoretical process of crafting meticulous objects in a given medium. Given this conservative historical marginalization, craft has the potential of questioning the boundaries of its own conventions even more so than other fields in contemporary art.

Many artists working in craft-based media are those who challenge these historical standards, providing a self-reflexivity to their practice, and considering the term as an active subject to be questioned in innovative ways. Scholars have argued that the roots of this climate may be found in the 1970s when higher level art educators began to teach skills to their students from a wide range of materials and techniques. The results of this attitude are widely evident in the disappearance of medium specific crafts courses in higher educational institutions.

beecherThe goal of this exhibition will be to engage in this dialogue by providing alternative vantage points in which to consider the state of craft. State of the Union is not meant to be a comprehensive survey of each of what encompasses craft production today but a focus on the post-disciplinary practices being used by emerging artists who are interested in questioning the fundamental assumptions of its traditional perimeters.

Given the historically validated hierarchy between crafts and the fine arts that has been explored exhaustively by countless theorists, a new generation of artists within the craft discipline is using their work to consider ways in which craft can maintain its identity outside its relationship to the fine arts. Considered through the use of material and skill, self-reflexivity of the very position of craft and its reception by the viewer becomes the subject of the work itself. Some artists included in the exhibition explore craft processes and materials, borrowing from one or more techniques and media, thus questioning the traditional categories of craft as textiles, clay, glass, wood, and metal. Others reconsider the traditional function or use value of craft, referencing its history as an object to be used or worn thus subverting its original purposefulness. Yet others question its ties to the decorative and the roots of craft aesthetic in Western history.

Participating Artists:  Yo Fukui, Haley Renée Bates, Austin Heitzman, Adelaide Paul, Amy Beecher, Jeanne Quinn, Jen Blazina, Rachel Abrams, Jill K. Baker Gower, Richard Bloes, Julie York, Gord Peteran

More information on the Philadelphia Art Alliance and this exhibition can be found by going to our website: