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Staged Stories: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009

August 7, 2009 – January 3, 2010

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Staged Stories: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009 presents the work of ceramic artist Christyl Boger, fiber artist Mark Newport, glass artist Mary Van Cline, and ceramic artist SunKoo Yuh. These artists depart in significant ways from long-standing craft traditions by discarding the baseline rationale of crafts, their functionality, to create narrative artworks that confound old categories in the world of contemporary craft. As the exhibition title suggests, theatrical elements, including props, costumes, and narration, bind together these varied works.

Christyl Boger (b. 1959), an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, creates large-scale gilded ceramic figurines that incorporate contemporary props such as inflatable swimming pool toys. Mark Newport (b. 1964), artist-in-residence and head of the fiber department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, examines issues of masculinity through knitted superhero costumes that mix adolescent male subject matter with craft techniques usually associated with women. Mary Van Cline (b. 1954), who lives and works in Seattle, creates large black-and-white photographs of austere landscapes and encases them in glass to create staged environments. SunKoo Yuh (b. 1960), an associate professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, creates densely layered ceramic sculptures and drawings that compress multiple figures into a complex story incorporating Eastern and Western imagery.

Staged Stories is the fourth in a biennial exhibition series—established in 2000—that honors the creativity and talent of craft artists working today. The exhibition includes fifty-eight artworks selected by Kate Bonansinga, director and chief curator of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, who is the guest curator of the exhibition. Robyn Kennedy, chief of the Renwick Gallery, and Nicholas Bell, curator, coordinated the exhibition at the Renwick Gallery. The four artists included in the exhibition were chosen by Kate Bonansinga; Jane Milosch, Renwick Gallery curator; and Paul J. Smith, director emeritus of the Museum of Arts and Design.

The exhibition catalogue, published by the American Art Museum and Scala Publishers Ltd., includes a foreword by museum director Elizabeth Broun, essays by Kate Bonansinga, and biographies for each artist. The book is available in the museum's store and online for $24.95 (softcover).

Free Public Programs
Several free public programs are planned in conjunction with the exhibition, including an Artists' Roundtable, moderated by Kate Bonansinga, Friday, September 25, at 6 p.m. in the McEvoy Auditorium in the museum's main building (located at Eighth and F Streets N.W.)

Other programs, which will take place at the Renwick Gallery, include a talk, "Superheroes and Alter Egos," with artist Mark Newport Friday, August 7, at noon; a Family Day, Saturday, August 8, from 1 to 4 p.m.; a gallery talk with Bonansinga Friday, September 25, at noon; a gallery talk with Fern Bleckner, Renwick Gallery deputy chief, Thursday, November 5, at noon; and a talk about Korean folktales with Young-Key Kim-Renaud, chair of the Korean Studies department at The George Washington University Sunday, November 8, at 3 p.m.

Starting September 1, a special resource room will feature "Sit ā€™nā€™ Knit," an ongoing opportunity for visitors to consult with local knitting and crocheting experts, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays and from 1 to 3 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays.

The Museum's blog Eye Level
Read exhibition-related blog posts including, All the (Craft) World's a Stage, Mark Newport: Self-Made Man, and On Stage with the Renwick's Staged Stories.

Selected Recent Reviews
Smithsonian magazine, August 5, "Staged Stories Opens at the Renwick Gallery" by Abby Callard
Washington Examiner, August 10, "Staged Stories: New craft is far from homey" by Robin Tierney
Washington Post, August 14, "At the Renwick, It's About Form" by Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Times, August 16, "ART: Form replaces function in Renwick crafts exhibit" by Deborah Dietsch

The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation generously supports Staged Stories: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009.