Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018

November 9, 2018 - May 5, 2019

Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)

Disrupting Craft presents the work of Tanya Aguiñiga, Sharif Bey, Dustin Farnsworth, and Stephanie Syjuco, four artists who challenge the conventional definitions of craft by imbuing it with a renewed sense of emotional purpose, inclusiveness, and activism.

The four artists work in an expansive variety of media including ceramics, wood, and fibers. They all share a dedication to social justice and to interrogating cultural identities and established historical narratives. By exploiting the conceptual toolkits of craft, they develop responses to the contemporary political landscape while also analyzing and challenging their own cultural histories.

Tanya Aguiñiga is an artist, designer, and compassionate activist rooted in her many communities. Her work, comprised mostly of natural fibers, is infused with a performative, and often surreal, quality that reveals raw personal narratives with a scope of universality.

Sharif Bey interweaves his roles as educator, father, and ceramicist, continuously reinventing his artistic process. Ranging from the utilitarian to the sculptural and purely abstract, his work explores complex cultural histories and identity.

Dustin Farnsworth manipulates wood into haunting storylines that inhabit intricately detailed portraits of today’s youth, shedding light on those inheriting societal and economic decay, the rise of gun deaths, and the oppression of marginalized communities.

Stephanie Syjuco uses social practice and the tropes of craft to challenge our perceptions of “types” in contemporary America, uncovering the manifestation of the handmade within digital processes and virtual networks of dissemination.

The artists were selected by Abraham Thomas, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-In-Charge for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Sarah Archer, independent curator, writer, and contributing editor for American Craft Inquiry; and Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design, and Fashion at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Disrupting Craft is the eighth installment of the Renwick Invitational, a biennial showcase for mid-career and emerging makers.

On the Blog

Eye Level, November 8, 2018, “Sneak Peek: Renwick Invitational 2018

Exhibition Catalogue

Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018

Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018 features four remarkable artists who challenge the conventional definitions of craft, imbuing it with a renewed sense of emotion purpose, inclusiveness, and activism. The exhibition catalogue ($34.95) is available in the museum store and in the online bookstore.

Meet the Artists

Tanya Aguiñiga

Tanya Aguiñiga (born 1978, San Diego, CA) is a Los Angeles–based artist, designer, and activist. Her work provokes conversation surrounding gender and nationality, often drawing from her background as a Mexican American woman and mother.

Sharif Bey

Ceramicist and professor Sharif Bey (born 1974, Pittsburgh, PA) produces both functional and sculptural pieces of pottery, using a variety of forms and textures. His body of work reflects his interest in the visual heritage of Africa and Oceania, as well as contemporary African American culture.

Dustin Farnsworth

Dustin Farnsworth (born 1983, Lansing, MI) carves wood into evocative depictions of human suffering. Much of his early work was influenced by the collapse of the American automobile industry, which he witnessed firsthand.

Stephanie Syjuco

Stephanie Syjuco (born 1974, Manila, Philippines), an artist and professor based in Oakland, California, formulates large-scale installations that address contemporary social and economic issues, including political dissent and the legacy of colonialism.


The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment provides support for the Renwick Invitational. The Cohen Family’s generosity in creating this endowment makes possible this biennial series highlighting outstanding craft artists who are deserving of wider national recognition.