A week before an exhibition opens is always an exciting time. It’s when vision becomes reality.
This year, as part of our CURRENTS series with living artists, I invited Stephanie Syjuco to exhibit a new project. My hope for the series is to provide a platform for artists to create new work as well as find creative ways to explore the Museum’s collection of more than 10,000 objects. Syjuco has received wide acclaim for her work in sculpture and installation over the past 15 years with exhibitions at SFMOMA, P.S.1/MOMA and more. I was excited to be able to bring her work and ideas to the Columbus community.
I sent Stephanie information about our collection, and within a few weeks she told me she was particularly interested in the African and Asian sculptures. Stephanie’s work often reappropriates designs to question ideas of authenticity, value and economic globalization. Her initial thought was to consider the difference in perceived value between sculptures considered “high quality” and those thought to have been made for the tourist trade.
It was clear, however, that Stephanie needed the opportunity to see everything in person, so last summer she visited the CMA and began to carefully look through our collection. This time became crucial to her creative process, allowing her to discover what would instead become the basis for her exhibition, the Don and Jean Stuck Coverlet Collection. Consisting of more than 300 nineteenth-century hand-woven coverlets the textiles provided the visual basis for Stephanie’s most recent research, the impact of the Industrial Revolution on skilled craftsman. With the advent of machines capable of creating more and more products, faster and cheaper than could be made by hand, many craftsman of consumer goods found themselves losing business and unable to provide for their families in the late nineteenth century. The Stuck Coverlet collection was created by European immigrants to the US who came here with the hopes of creating a cottage industry that could continue to thrive.
Syjuco used the inspiration of the CMA coverlets as the basis for Stephanie Syjuco: Pattern Migrations, which opens June 24, 2011 at CMA. It’s a mind-bending take on labor, capitalism, immigration and cultural biography. Stay tuned for more.
Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Lisa Dent, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art