“Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery” highlights the evolution of the craft field as it transitions into a new phase at the hands of contemporary artists, which in some way echoes the communal spirit and ideology of the pioneers of the American Studio Craft Movement in their heyday.
DEBRA BAXTER: I’m Debra Baxter, and I’m super excited to have a piece in the Renwick’s permanent collection. My piece in the show is “Devil Horns Lefty.”
The artist I want to talk about in the show is Beatrice Wood. She has a lovely teapot in this show, with her signature luster glaze. I’ve had this sentimental attachment to her as a person and her work for many years.
I first encountered Beatrice Wood’s work in this 1993 video called “Mama of Dada” and more than her art itself or when the Dada period that they were talking about is, I kept getting the essence of who she is, this spark of life she had, this childlike quality, this love of life she had, and that was shot when she was in her nineties.
There’s something super magical about her that when you look at a vessel of hers you can feel her spirit inside it. Another similarity in our work is that a lot of our work was intuitive and had these themes of love and longing and those themes have appeared in my work as well.
Twenty years later, I’m in Ojai, California, at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, I started talking to this fellow that was teaching a workshop there and he confessed to me that he was her “boy toy” and seemed very proud of that. He was half her age, and this seems to confirm her saying that the secret to longevity was chocolate and young men.
Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The installation includes iconic favorites alongside new acquisitions.