Arts Craft Arts

New Exhibits on Display at Asheville’s Center for Craft

Photo by Sae Honda

By Natasha Anderson

Asheville’s Center for Craft presents three new exhibits on display now through October 21. In the Center’s Bresler Family Gallery, the group exhibition Something earned, Something left behind is concerned with reconciling a history of craft and exclusion of POC narratives and displacement. It centers on artists working with cultural traditions at the forefront of their practice to engage conversations of identity, healing and reconnection. This show gives reverence to ancestral homelands, hyphenated identity markers, expectations to assimilate and the pressure to give up parts of oneself in order to fit a new identity.

“As POC artists, I think we naturally gravitate to culturally traditional art processes,” says artist, educator and exhibit curator Kehayr Brown-Ranshaw. “This allows us to be ourselves outside of our homes and engage with oppressive systems more honestly. The capital “C” craft parts are secondary to the culturally specific elements that drive the work.”

“Pony II.” J Diamond, artist

The exhibit recognizes that few objects in the world are apolitical in their historical affiliations and provokes viewers to question how the cultural, political and economic decidedness of objects has impacted their meaning and worth.

NEO MINERALIA, also in the Bresler Family Gallery, presents a selection of new rock specimens crafted by ten international artists exploring the potential of rocks as reflections of our effects on human and nonhuman ecologies. Departing from traditional rock formation categories (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary), the artworks highlighted propose the emergence of synthetic and digital rocks. By embedding human-manufactured materials (plastics, e-waste) and human-originated data points (critical, financial, social) into the craftsmanship of these rocks, the artists propose that these geological entities can serve as vessels of stories, warnings and futures in our evolving entanglement with nature.

In the Center’s John Cram Gallery, Crafting Denim explores the work of three contemporary denim makers: Bowery Blue Makers, W.H. Ranch Dungarees and Raleigh Denim, who all take an artisanal approach to making jeans. Takayuki Echigoya of Bowery Blue Makers brings a global perspective: his work draws from the long-standing appreciation of American denim in Japan and blends influences from both cultures. Ryan Martin from W.H. Ranch Dungarees highlights regional independence; his work draws from his home state of Kansas and from the history of making and wearing jeans in rural communities. And Raleigh Denim, the largest of the three workshops, brings community, uniting experienced makers from North Carolina’s manufacturing past with youthful contemporary designers. Each has a distinct approach and background, but all are vested in making jeans in small-scale workshops where attention is paid to the details, quality and origins of each material.

“I hope this exhibit gives people a moment to reflect on their own habits of buying and wearing clothing, and a chance to consider options for ultimately consuming less, but better-quality, more carefully crafted garments,” says design historian and show curator Dr. Sonya Abrego.

Center for Craft is at 67 Broadway Street, in Asheville. Learn more at CenterforCraft.org.

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