Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery

Colorful multi-media vase

SAAM’s branch location for contemporary craft, the Renwick Gallery, showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. Currently on view are more than 100 works in a range of mediums from fiber and ceramics to glass, metal, wood, and mixed media. These objects deepen the history of the studio craft movement while also introducing contemporary artworks that push the boundaries of what we interpret the handmade to be in the twenty-first century. 

Description

The Renwick Gallery opened its doors fifty years ago on January 28, 1972, to showcase the ingenuity and relevance of craft and design in American culture. Over the years the museum has featured many expressions and definitions of craft. Today, the Renwick continues to showcase the creativity of American artists who push the boundaries of the handmade while making the museum a welcome space for all and one representative of all people.  

Some artworks, like masks and protest banners, serve the immediate needs of the present. Others cast new light on the past, sharing previously untold stories and reframing histories. Many artworks inspire a responsibility to the future, showing how craft can restore relationships to the environment and build coalitions across differences. Every object offers the presence of the artist, revealing the radical and tender possibilities of the hand to craft a better world.  

Featured artists include Bisa Butler, Daniel Brush, Nick Cave, David Chatt, Kelly Church, Cristina Cordova, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Cindy Drozda, Alicia Eggert, J. Paul Fennell, Susie Ganch, Aram Han Sifuentes, Carla Hemlock (Kanienkeháka), Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Ron Ho, Katie Hudnall, Pat Kramer, Steven Young Lee, Linda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Tom Loeser, John Mascoll, Connie Mississippi,  Virgil Ortiz, George Rodriguez, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary (Tlingit),  April Surgent, Gail Tremblay,  Wanxin Zhang, and many more. 

“The artwork being crafted and collected now is shaping an even bolder future, one that will help us better understand ourselves, each other and the world around us. The Renwick Gallery will continue to be a driving force in this conversation.”   

---Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director 

Many of the works currently on view were featured in the anniversary exhibition This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. A dedicated gallery features the recent gift from Judith Chernoff and Jeffrey Bernstein of 43 works from their collection of sculptural wood art. 

Visiting Information

Ongoing
Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m
Free Admission

Publications

Six duotone book covers are show with "This Present Moment" in black text
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases American craft like never before. Accompanying a 2022 exhibition of the same name, it features artists’ stories of resilience, methods of activism, and highlights craft’s ability to spark essential conversations about race, gender, and representation. This book marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the nation’s preeminent center for the enjoyment of American craft. It honors the history of the American studio craft movement while also introducing progressive contemporary narratives.
crafted_NEW_500.jpg
Craft for a Modern World
Craft for a Modern World presents 150 of the Renwick Gallery’s 2,000 artworks in a new light, celebrating the restoration and reopening of its historic landmark home. Encouraging readers to find their own connections—as they have come to expect in today’s hyperlinked world—curator Nora Atkinson describes some of her associations among these artifacts of makers, both contemporary and pioneer. Readers can engage the artworks through subtle linkages in the color plates, which introduce related works in black and white. According to Atkinson, the artworks in this catalogue, many of them newly photographed, “are a playground for the mind.”

Videos

SAAM Stories

open egg shaped basket with flash drive inside
Discover how artist Kelly Church is ensuring that centuries of Indigenous traditions are preserved for future generations with her beautifully woven basketry.
A photograph of a very colorful face mask
Julia Kwon’s interactive art projects facilitate solidarity and community
A photograph of a woman with brown hair and a dress standing inside a building.
Mary Savig
Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft
A photograph of a woman wearing a face mask.
Adding functional and artistic masks to SAAM’s collection during COVID-19 projects artists’ messages of strength, resilience, and hope.
A photograph of a woman holding a large basket in museum collection storage.
Anya Montiel
Curator of American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft
A jeweled-encrusted egg
A look at the extraordinary career of master metalsmith and painter Daniel Brush
Photograph of Nora Atkinson by Libby Weiler.
Nora Atkinson
The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge, Renwick Gallery
A photograph of an artwork
Checking in with the artist who creates lively and unexpected sculptures from clay.
A photograph of a woman with brown hair and a dress standing inside a building.
Mary Savig
Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft
A detailed crop of a highly textured ceramic vessel. The center shows a painting of the rapper Notorious B.I.G. The side handles are busts of Notorious B.I.G. on one and Tupac Shakur on the other.
Remixing classical ceramics and underrepresented figures with a hip-hop style
SAAM

Online Gallery

Alicia Eggert, This Present Moment, 2019-2020, neon, custom controller, steel, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Renwick General Acquisitions Fund, 2021.4, © 2019, Alicia Eggert
This Present Moment
Date2019-2020
neon, custom controller, steel
On view
Bisa Butler, Don't Tread on Me, God Damn, Let's Go! - The Harlem Hellfighters, 2021, cottons, silk, wool, and velvet, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of David Bonderman, 2022.25, © 2022, Bisa Butler
Don’t Tread on Me, God Damn, Let’s Go! — The Harlem…
Date2021
cottons, silk, wool, and velvet
Not on view
Daniel Brush, Diamond Egg (#90), 1991-1993, 24-karat gold and steel with diamonds, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur S. Bresler in honor of Robyn Kennedy, 2022.1
Diamond Egg (#90)
Date1991-1993
24-karat gold and steel with diamonds
On view
Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2010, fabric, beads, and sequins, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur S. Bresler, 2021.48.1, © Nick Cave. Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Soundsuit
Date2010
fabric, beads, and sequins
Not on view
David Chatt, Love, Dad, 2012-2013, glass beads, thread, wooden table, letters, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.18.1, © 2022, David Chatt
Love, Dad
Date2012-2013
glass beads, thread, wooden table, letters
Not on view
Cristina Córdova, Araña, 2004, hand built clay and stains, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Lorne E. Lassiter and Gary P. Ferraro, 2021.59
Araña
Date2004
hand built clay and stains
On view
Einar De La Torre, Jamex De La Torre, Ohio Goza y Mas, 2013, blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Todd Wingate and Steven Cason, courtesy of the artists and Koplin Del Rio Gallery, 2021.84
Ohio Goza y Mas
Date2013
blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media
On view
Cindy Drozda, Pele (Hawaiian Goddess of Fire), not dated, Australian red malee burl and blackwood, garnet and 14-karat gold, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.10
Pele (Hawaiian Goddess of Fire)
Datenot dated
Australian red malee burl and blackwood, garnet and 14-karat gold
Not on view
J. Paul Fennell, Szechwan Serenity, 2013, African sumac, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.15
Szechwan Serenity
Date2013
African sumac
Not on view
Susie Ganch, Drag, 2013-2014, collected detritus and steel, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of Robyn Kennedy, 2021.81, © 2014, Susie Ganch
Drag
Date2013-2014
collected detritus and steel
On view
Carla Hemlock, Our Destruction, 2019, wool stroud cloth, wool, glass beads, crystals, sequins, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.10, © 2020, Carla Goodleaf Hemlock
Our Destruction
Date2019
wool stroud cloth, wool, glass beads, crystals, sequins
On view
Aram Han Sifuentes, Verónica Casado Hernandez, OTRO MUNDO ES POSIBLE, 2017, felt, fusible web, and bias tape on cotton, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible through Jaimianne and Anthony Jacobin in honor of the James Renwick Alliance, 2021.36, © 2017, Aram Han Sifuentes
OTRO MUNDO ES POSIBLE
Date2017
felt, fusible web, and bias tape on cotton
On view
Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Portrait of Resilience, from the Flag Series, 2020, dye discharge fabric, antique quilt fabric, vinyl, flag fabric, and African print fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.35, © 2021, Sharon Kerry-Harlan
Portrait of Resilience, from the Flag Series
Date2020
dye discharge fabric, antique quilt fabric, vinyl, flag fabric, and African print fabric
Not on view
Ron Ho, Necklace Made for Patti Warashina, n.d., silver, leather, and Plexiglas with two wood carvings by Julia Harrison and a carved wooden Japanese mask, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patti Warashina, 2021.86.1
Necklace Made for Patti Warashina
Artist
Daten.d.
silver, leather, and Plexiglas with two wood carvings by Julia Harrison and a carved wooden Japanese mask
On view
Katie Hudnall, Nut Case, 2019, reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.21, © 2019, Catherine Hudnall
Nut Case
Date2019
reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns
Not on view
Pat Kramer, Night Blooming Serious, 2003, Norfolk island pine, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.23
Night Blooming Serious
Date2003
Norfolk island pine
Not on view
Steven Young Lee, Vase with Landscape and Dinosaurs, 2014, porcelain with pigment and glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Richard Fryklund, Giselle and Ben Huberman, David and Clemmer Montague, and museum purchase through the Howard Kottler Endowment for Ceramic Art
, 2015.17, © 2014, Steven Young Lee
Vase with Landscape and Dinosaurs
Date2014
porcelain with pigment and glaze
On view
Linda Lopez, Blue/Purple Ombre with Rocks, 2018, porcelain, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Howard Kottler Endowment for Ceramic Art, 2020.64, © 2020, Linda Lopez
Blue/​Purple Ombre with Rocks
Date2018
porcelain
On view
Roberto Lugo, Juicy, 2021, glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 40th anniversary of the Alliance, 2021.68, © 2020, Roberto Lugo
Juicy
Date2021
glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster
On view
Kelly Church, Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories, 2018, black ash, sweetgrass, rit, copper, vial EAB, flashdrive, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Decorative Arts and Crafts Endowment, 2020.49A-B, © 2018, Kelly Church
Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories
Date2018
black ash, sweetgrass, rit, copper, vial EAB, flashdrive
Not on view
Thomas Loeser, With You in a Moment, 2016, honey locust, ash, shovel and lawn mower handles, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2021.58
With You in a Moment
Date2016
honey locust, ash, shovel and lawn mower handles
On view
John Mascoll, Untitled Lidded Vessel, 2016, citrus, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.26
Untitled Lidded Vessel
Date2016
citrus
Not on view
Connie Mississippi, Midnight Mountain, from the series Circle of Time, 2001-2004, Baltic birch plywood
, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.28
Midnight Mountain, from the series Circle of Time
Date2001-2004
Baltic birch plywood
Not on view
Virgil Ortiz, Pueblo Revolt 2180, 2018-2019, white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2022.54, © 2016, Virgil Ortiz
Pueblo Revolt 2180
Date2018-2019
white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint
Not on view
George Rodriguez, Mexican American Gothic, 2019, stoneware with glaze and underglaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alison and Glen Milliman, Cynthia Sears, and Michael J. Stein, 2022.23A-B, © 2019, George Rodriguez. Photograph by Spike Mafford, courtesy of Foster/White Gallery, Seattle.
Mexican American Gothic
Date2019
stoneware with glaze and underglaze
On view
Judith Schaechter, The Birth of Eve, 2013, flash glass, vitreous paint, silver stain, and copper foil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance, 2015.12, © 2013, Judith Schaechter
The Birth of Eve
Date2013
flash glass, vitreous paint, silver stain, and copper foil
On view
Preston Singletary, Safe Journey, 2021, cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 40th anniversary of the alliance, and museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.82A-C, © 2021, Preston Singletary
Safe Journey
Date2021
cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal
On view
April Surgent, Wave, 2021, glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Gwen and Jerome Paulson in honor of the James Renwick Alliance for Craft, 2022.20A-D, © 2021, April Surgent
Wave
Date2021
glass
On view
Gail Tremblay, When will the Red Leader Overshadow Images of the 19th Century Noble Savage in Hollywood Films that Some Think are Sympathetic to American Indians, 2018, 35mm film from "Windwalker" (1981), red and white film leader, silver braid, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Ms. Brenda Erickson in honor of the James Renwick Alliance, 2021.11, © 2018, Gail E. Tremblay
When will the Red Leader Overshadow Images of the 19th
Date2018
35mm film from "Windwalker" (1981), red and white film leader, silver braid
Not on view
Wanxin Zhang, Warrior with Color Face, 2009, high-fired clay with glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of David and Pamela Hornik, 2021.72
Warrior with Color Face
Date2009
high-fired clay with glaze
On view