Sneak Peek: Renwick Invitational 2018

When you think of the Renwick Gallery, images of a bright floor to ceiling rainbow or faceted moving mushrooms might come to mind.  It's true, the Renwick Gallery has been known to offer blockbuster exhibitions, such as No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, that give you Instagram-worthy photography.

One of my favorite events at the Renwick Gallery happens once every two years in the form of the Renwick Invitational. It brings together four emerging artists and showcases their work. This year, in Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018, four artists disrupt our Instagram feeds with messages of social justice, cultural identities, as they respond to the contemporary political and social landscapes with art.

Tanya Aguiñiga uses natural materials to tell stories that question identity and nationality within communities. In one of her pieces, titled Art Made Between Opposing Sides, she asks the question, "What are your thoughts when you cross this border?" Each participant is given a piece of string and their emotions and experiences get tied to other stories making a beautiful piece of artwork that unites many voices and stories.

A detail photograph of string tied together.

Border Quipu/Quipu Fronterizo (detail), 2016-18, by Tanya Aguiñiga. Photo by Libby Weiler.

Ceramicist Sharif Bey creates a body of work that speaks to the cultural significance of ornamentation in the visual heritages of Africa and Oceania, as well as contemporary African American culture. Bey creates both functional and sculptural pieces of work using a variety of forms and textures. 

A photograph of the artwork, Ripened Banana, a large scale tan beads in the form of a necklace.

Ripened Banana (detail), 2014, by Sharif Bey. Photo by Libby Weiler. 

Dustin Farnsworth uses the medium of woodcraft to tell important stories of social justice and human suffering. Protest signage and stories of communities torn apart by police shootings can be found in his work. 

A detailed photograph of wood carved skulls on a wall.

Dustin Farnsworth and Timothy Maddox, WAKE II, (detail), 2017, Photo by Libby Weiler. 

Stephanie Syjuco addresses contemporary social and economic issues in her work. Her large-scale installations incorporate political dissent and the legacy of colonialism. 

An in gallery photograph of artwork, Neutral Calibration Studies (Ornament and Crime), detail.

Neutral Calibration Studies (Ornament + Crime), (detail), 2016. Photo by Libby Weiler

These four artists bring to life many different stories, experiences, and difficulties in the world today. While they tackle tough issues, their artwork reminds us that there can be beauty in the hardship. 

Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018 opens Friday, November 9, and might be just what you need this week.