Craft was once at the margins of the art world, but no longer. Today it is front and center in art galleries, museums, and fairs, widely recognized for its expressive potential and cultural significance. Assembled from the eclectic richness of MAD’s permanent collection, Craft Front & Center brings together more than 70 iconic and lesser-known works to highlight key thematic touchpoints in craft’s history that have brought us to this moment. Challenging traditional thinking of craft as separate from fine art, the exhibition reveals the field’s deep engagement in art’s major movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism, while also launching its own revolutions, particularly the elevation of women and people of color as significant artists.
The Museum of Arts and Design collection comprises over 3,000 artworks in clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood, dating from the post-war studio craft movement through to contemporary art and design. With an aim to subvert traditional hierarchies in the arts, the collection advocates for the central role of craft in art and society. Toward that end, Craft Front & Center is organized into eight themes exploring craft’s impact. Each section is punctuated with pivotal and rarely seen works from iconic makers, such as Betty Woodman, Marvin Lipofsky, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. The exhibition also casts a fresh eye on craft’s pioneers; celebrating Olga de Amaral, Charles Loloma, Patti Warashina, and others who pushed the boundaries of materials and sought more inclusive sources of inspiration. Showcasing the diversity and expressive power of the handmade as only MAD can, the exhibition affirms craft as one of the most exciting spaces for experimentation and wonder in art today.