This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World

May 13, 2022 — April 2, 2023

Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)
Quilted artwork depicting eight African American soldiers

Bisa Butler, Don’t Tread On Me, God Damn, Let’s Go!— The Harlem Hellfighters, 2021–22, pieced, appliquéd, and quilted cottons, silk, wool, and velvet, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of David Bonderman. Photo by Lee Stalsworth 

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. The exhibition highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism—showing us a more relational and empathetic world. It centers more expansive definitions and acknowledgments of often-overlooked histories and contributions of women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.

On view at SAAM’s Renwick Gallery, This Present Moment activates two floors of gallery space, highlighting 171 artworks from SAAM’s extensive holdings of modern and contemporary craft, in a range of craft mediums from fiber and ceramics to glass 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. 

This Present Moment marks the fiftieth anniversary of SAAM’s Renwick Gallery as the nation’s premier museum dedicated to American craft. An anniversary acquisition campaign, begun in 2020, focused on artworks made by a broadly representative and diverse group of American artists and increased the number of Black, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQ+, Indigenous and women artists, among others, represented in the nation’s collection. This Present Moment features 135 of these objects, on display at the Renwick Gallery for the first time.

Featured artists include Tanya Aguiñiga, Bisa Butler, Nick Cave, David Chatt, Sonya Clark, Cristina Cordova, Cindy Drozda, Alicia Eggert, J. Paul Fennell, Aram Han Sifuentes, Carla Hemlock (Kanienkeháka), Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Ron Ho, Katie Hudnall, Pat Kramer, Steven Young Lee, Linda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Wendy Maruyama, Tom Loeser, John Mascoll, Connie Mississippi, George Nakashima, LJ Roberts, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary (Tlingit), Polly Adams Sutton, Toshiko Takaezu, Gail Tremblay (Mi'kmaq and Onondaga), Nancy Worden, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Wanxin Zhang, and many more.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, is organized by Mary Savig, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft; with support from Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery; Anya Montiel, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; and Elana Hain, collections manager. This exhibition is the latest in a series presented at the Renwick Gallery that reassess what craft is in a modern world.

“This present moment   

Used to be   

The unimaginable future.”   

— Stewart Brand, The Clock of the Long Now 

Upcoming Programs

Media - 2021.21 - SAAM-2021.21_3 - 143075

Virtual Studio Tours
Stay tuned for a chance to go behind-the-scenes into the studios of artists featured in This Present Moment. Learn about their work and creative process in a series of free virtual tours. Sign up for our email list to be one of the first to be notified when registration is open.

Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m. ET - Preston Singletary 
Register Today

Thursday, September 22, 7 p.m. ET - Chawne Kimber 
Thursday, December 8, 7 p.m. ET - Katie Hudnall 
Thursday, February 16, 7 p.m. ET - David Harper Clemons

On the Blog

 Take a deep dive and learn more about the artists and artwork featured in This Present Moment on our blog Eye Level.

Exhibition Catalogue

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World

The book accompanying this exhibition is co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with D Giles Limited, London. It is available in the online bookstore. ($54.95, Hardcover)

Purchase Your Copy

New Acquisitions

Through the Renwick Gallery 50th Anniversary Acquisition Campaign, begun in 2020, SAAM has brought more than 200 objects by leading craft artists into its permanent collection. This Present Moment features 135 of these artworks.


This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World is organized by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Generous support is provided by Carl and Jan Fisher, Shelby and Fred Gans, the James Renwick Alliance for Craft, and Ann Kaplan and Robert Fippinger.

The catalogue is made possible by Cindy Miscikowski. 

Additional support is provided by Alturas Foundation, Elizabeth Broun Curatorial Endowment, Sharon and Bob Buchanan, Sheila Burke, Billings and John Cay, Faye and Robert Davidson Jr., DLR Group, Elizabeth and James Eisenstein, Mary Anne Fray, Cary J. Frieze, The Galena-Yorktown Foundation, Michael and Heather Greenbaum, Chris G. Harris, Cecily and Bannus Hudson, Maureen and Gene Kim, Colleen and John Kotelly, Joseph P. Logan, Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman, Eleanor T. Rosenfeld, Dorothy Saxe in memory of George Saxe, Maggie and Dick Scarlett, Barbara Tober, Judith S. Weisman, Myra and Harold Weiss, Kelly Williams and Andrew Forsyth, and Todd Wingate and Steven Cason.