Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts

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Debra Baxter, Devil Horns Crystal Brass Knuckles (Lefty), 2015, quartz crystal and sterling silver, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist in honor of Joanna and David Baxter, 2016.11, © 2015, Debra Baxter. Photo: Kim Richardson

The museum’s collection of contemporary American craft is considered one of the finest in the United States.

Major works by well-established craft masters, such as Wendell CastleDale ChihulyRobert EbendorfDavid EllsworthSheila HicksKaren LaMonteBeth LipmanSam Maloof, and Albert Paley, as well as objects by up-and-coming artists, are featured. Jewelry, studio furniture, and wood art make up a significant part of the collection. A longtime favorite among Renwick visitors is Larry Fuente’s Game Fish, an assemblage of game pieces in the form of a trophy fish.

Decorative arts in the collection range from the colonial period to the Gilded Age and beyond. Highlights include gorgeous stained glass windows by John La Farge and a commemorative piano decorated by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, originally presented by Steinway & Sons to the White House.

View the online bookstore for more books on Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts.

Selected Works

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Metabolizing the Border
Performance. Unique objects worn by artist/performer (glass, neoprene, rusted metal fragments of U.S./Mexico border fence, leather, cotton twine, flashlight) and photodocumentation of the performance (digital files)
Not on view
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From Traditional to Contemporary
On view
Media - 2022.25 - SAAM-2022.25_1 - 146159
Don’t Tread on Me, God Damn, Let’s Go! — The Harlem…
cottons, silk, wool, and velvet
Not on view
Media - 2012.36 - SAAM-2012.36_1 - 79885
Black and Grey Toaster
vinyl, copper wire and thread
Not on view
Media - 1989.68 - SAAM-1989.68_2 - 118457
Ghost Clock
bleached Honduras mahogany
Not on view
Media - 2021.48.1 - SAAM-2021.48.1_1 - 143153
fabric, beads, and sequins
On view
Media - 2022.13 - SAAM-2022.13_1 - 146150
woven linen with madder dye and tea stain
Not on view
Media - 2021.84 - SAAM-2021.84_1 - 143180
Ohio Goza y Mas
blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media
On view
Media - 2021.66.13 - SAAM-2021.66.13_1 - 143028
Untitled Vessel
Not on view
Media - 2021.32 - SAAM-2021.32_1 - 143148
Song of Sorrow
ink and acrylic paint on watercolor paper splints
Not on view
Media - 2021.96 - SAAM-2021.96_1 - 148106
Untitled pot
natural clay with acrylic paint
Not on view
Media - 2021.21 - SAAM-2021.21_1 - 143073
Nut Case
reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns
On view
Media - 1985.70 - SAAM-1985.70_2 - 119022
Opalescent Red Crown
Not on view
Colorful multi-media vase
glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster
On view
Media - 2012.20 - SAAM-2012.20_1 - 80109
Not on view
Media - 1991.121 - SAAM-1991.121_2 - 118461
Conoid Bench
black walnut and hickory
Not on view
Media - 2022.54 - SAAM-2022.54_1 - 146732
Pueblo Revolt 2180
white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint
On view
Media - 2020.63 - SAAM-2020.63_1 - 143145
Tall squash pot
On view
Media - 1975.117.1A-B - SAAM-1975.117.1A-B_2 - 116882
Portal Gates
steel, brass, copper, and bronze
Not on view
Media - 2003.58 - SAAM-2003.58_3 - 129031
Dateca. 1980
glass beads on synthetic thread
Not on view
Media - 2021.48.4 - SAAM-2021.48.4_1 - 143076
Leaf Vessel
Dateca. 2012
big-leaf maple leaf, kōzo paper, watercolor
Not on view
Media - 2021.82A-C - SAAM-2021.82A-C_1 - 142811
Safe Journey
cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal
On view
Media - 2011.6 - SAAM-2011.6_1 - 74049
Not on view
Media - 1983.79 - SAAM-1983.79_2 - 115897
Rocking Pot
stoneware with colemanite wash
Not on view
Media - 1994.37.1 - SAAM-1994.37.1_3 - 118904
Convertible Car Kiln
Dateca. 1971
earthenware, gold and silver luster glaze, and Plexiglas
Not on view
Media - 2013.77A-C - SAAM-2013.77A-C_1 - 118522
The Craftsman Series: Shovels
pennies, brass, silver, and copper
Not on view
Media - 2014.45 - SAAM-2014.45_1 - 119296
The Family Reunion
14k gold and sterling silver plating, copper, brass mesh, onyx, acrylic, and resin with cast photographs and scorpions
Not on view
Media - 2011.47.76 - SAAM-2011.47.76_2 - 88849
Gullah Fanner Basket
sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto fronds
Not on view
Media - 2021.72 - SAAM-2021.72_1 - 143066
Warrior with Color Face
high-fired clay with glaze
On view

Related Artists

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Wendell Castle
born Emporia, KS 1932-died Scottsville, NY 2018

Born in Emporia, Kansas, Wendell Castle earned a B.F.A. degree in sculpture in 1958 and an M.F.A. in industrial design in 1961 at the University of Kansas.

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Dale Chihuly
born Tacoma, WA 1941

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly studied with Harvey Littleton, founder of the studio glass movement, at the University of Wisconsin and received an M.F.A. degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1968.

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Robert Ebendorf
born Topeka, KS 1938

An eclectic jeweler and metalsmith, Robert Ebendorf was born in Topeka, Kansas. He earned a B.F.A. degree in 1958 and an M.F.A. in 1963 at the University of Kansas.

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David Ellsworth
born Iowa City, IA 1944

David Ellsworth received his MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973. Eight years earlier, he had studied architecture for a year at Washington University, St. Louis.

Sheila Hicks
born Hastings, NE 1934
Karen LaMonte
born New York City 1967
Beth Lipman
born Philadelphia, PA 1971

Glass artist Beth Lipman is renowned for her sculptural compositions which recreate the bounty and visual sumptuousness of Renaissance and Baroque still-life paintings, particularly 17th-century Dutch scenes.

Sam Maloof
born Chino, CA 1916-died Rancho Cucamonga, CA 2009

Born in Chino, California, Sam Maloof is a 1934 graduate of Chino High School. He worked as a graphic artist before being encouraged by his wife to pursue woodworking.

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Albert Paley
born Philadelphia, PA 1944

Albert Paley earned B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in 1966 and 1969 respectively.

Larry Fuente
born Chicago, IL 1947

Born in Chicago, Larry Fuente studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1967 to 1968, after which he followed friends to California.

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John La Farge
born New York City 1835-died Providence, RI 1910

Painter, stained glass designer. Among his many commissions, decoration of the Trinity Church in Boston placed La Farge at the forefront of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

Thomas Wilmer Dewing
born Boston, MA 1851-died New York City 1938

Born in Boston, studied in Paris, settled in New York City.