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.
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Meet the Artists
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.
The catalogue features essays written by the jurors that explore how each artist has used their chosen media to contribute beyond the confines of the art world. This catalogue ($34.95) will soon be available in the museum store and in the online bookstore.
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.