Many contemporary artists incorporate materials traditionally associated with craft into their art practice. Craft, often segregated from the high art world, is used to describe a pastime or profession that requires skill and concentration. Fine artists involve styles such as knitting, crocheting, beading, ceramics and many others practices to create their works. The effects of using these generally intricate and time-consuming techniques are impressive as works by these five artists demonstrate.
Shane Waltener was trained as a sculptor and now makes beautiful and haunting installations using yarn. Many of his works are engaging and beg a viewer’s participation. Over Here, which mimics a giant spider web, references a technique called Shetland lace and is made of fishing line. Sherry Markovitz is a Seattle-based artist who incorporates buttons, feathers, fake pearls, shells, sequins, seed beads and other items to animal heads or dolls. Markovitz says that she “was never influenced by the contemporary art world,” and indeed, her works created from hours of labor and scouring flea markets for material feel as though they walked out of another place and time. Elaine Bradford uses crochet to create otherworldly sculptures. Her installation at the Vinson Branch of the Houston Public Library, for instance, consists of an elephant and a gaggle of Canadian geese, all sheathed in crochet skins. The work is fun and playful, but also sophisticated and clever. Orly Genger, most recently known for covering Madison Square Park in New York with a massive installation consisting of 1.4 million feet of layered, painted and hand-knotted rope last summer, is an artist who employs traditionally “feminine” activities to works that reference artists like Barnett Newman. She titled her Madison Square Park installation after his Who’s Afraid of the Red, Yellow and Blue? series from the 1960s. Edith Meusnier is a French textile and environmental artist who transforms nature into installation spaces. She uses craft installations to raise questions about sustainability and the vulnerability of nature.
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