The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced that artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore and Rowland Ricketts will be featured in the biennial craft invitational at its Renwick Gallery in 2020. All four artists look to nature for inspiration to help explain what it means to be human in a world that is increasingly chaotic and divorced from the physical landscape. Working in a wide range of materials—including fiber, metal and glass—these artists bring new and unique approaches to the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world.
“Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020” is the ninth installment of the Renwick Invitational. Established in 2000, this biennial showcase highlights mid-career and emerging makers who are deserving of wider national recognition. The exhibition is organized by Emily Zilber, independent curator and former curator of contemporary decorative arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It will be on view at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum from July 17, 2020, through Feb. 7, 2021.
The four artists were selected by a panel of distinguished jurors, each with a wide knowledge of contemporary American makers. The panel included Zilber; Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery; and Stefano Catalani, executive director of the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.
Fensterstock (b. 1975, resides Portland, Maine) creates detailed, large-scale installation artworks using labor-intensive modes of making drawn from the decorative arts, including paper quilling and mosaic. For this exhibition, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has commissioned a site-specific work—the first in a new series for the artist inspired by sources like “The Book of Miracles,” a richly illustrated 16th-century German manuscript—that will transform a gallery at the Renwick into a celestial landscape that captures the power and awe inherent in natural phenomena.
Horn (b. 1964, resides Provincetown, Massachusetts) creates exaggerated adornments that combine the natural and the constructed worlds, drawing inspiration from objects as varied as 17th-century jewelry patterns and 19th-century studies of lichen, coral and seaweed. He works with traditional materials, such as bronze and glass, as well as surprising ones, such as crystalized rock sugar, which refers to the famous Amber Room of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
Moore (b. 1960, resides Seattle) is best known for her exquisitely detailed glass renderings of orchids, orchid trees and bamboo shoots. This exhibition presents her tour de force “Arboria” (2018), which focuses on four life-size flowering trees. Moore’s work presents a new chapter in the long history of representing plants in glass, ranging from ancient renderings to more recent botanical models. Moore is interested less in realism and more in capturing an intensely personal experience of beauty and wonder.
Ricketts (b. 1971, resides Bloomington, Indiana) creates immersive installations using hand-woven and hand-dyed cloth. His holistic artistic practice begins on his farm, where he cultivates the indigo plants he uses to color his artwork, fully linking process with product. Ricketts often incorporates participatory engagement from non-artists into his practice, emphasizing the relationship between nature, culture, the passage of time and everyday life.
An accompanying catalog will feature essays by Atkinson, Catalani and Zilber.
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. Additional support has been provided by the Carolyn Small Alper Exhibitions Fund, Cary J. Frieze, Klorfine Foundation and Eleanor T. Rosenfeld.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. The Renwick is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.