City Life Org – The Smithsonian American Art Museum acquires over 200 works of art for its craft collection, including major works by Bisa Butler, Sonya Clark, Roberto Lugo, Preston Singletary and Wanxin Zhang

Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

New acquisitions to debut at Renwick Gallery in ‘This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World’ exhibition

A recent campaign by the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery to acquire works by prominent craft artists has brought more than 200 objects into its permanent collection. The Renwick Gallery’s 50th Anniversary Acquisition Campaign, began in 2020, focused on artworks made by a broadly representative and diverse group of American artists and significantly increases the number of Black, Latinx, American artists Asian origin, LGBTQ +, natives and women represented in the national collection.

These newly acquired works of art are part of an effort to celebrate the museum’s Renwick Gallery’s 50th anniversary as the nation’s premier museum for the enjoyment and study of American craftsmanship. The artworks selected through this acquisitions campaign delve deeper into the history of the Craft Studio Movement while introducing contemporary works that push the boundaries of what is considered handmade in the 21st century. More than 130 of these works will be on display in the “This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World” exhibition which opens May 13.

“For 50 years, the Renwick Gallery at SAAM has championed innovation in American craftsmanship,” said Stephanie Stebich, director of Margaret and Terry Stent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “As we take this opportunity to look back and look forward, these newly acquired works of art added as part of our 50th anniversary acquisition campaign define a bolder future that will help us better ourselves. understand each other and the world around us.”

By incorporating works by Bisa Butler, Sonya Clark, David Harper Clemons, Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Roberto Lugo, and Preston Singletary, among others, into the collection, the museum re-examines the landscape of American craftsmanship and shines a light on stories of perseverance. , models of resilience and relevant activism methods for today’s audiences. Selected works from the campaign can be viewed in an online gallery on the museum’s website.

This acquisition campaign was led by Nora Atkinson, curator of Fleur and Charles Bresler in charge of the Renwick Gallery with Mary Savig, curator of Craft Lloyd Herman; and Anya Montiel, curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (formerly curator of the Museum of American and Native American Women’s Arts and Crafts). The artworks acquired, through both gifts and museum purchase, represent a range of craft mediums including fiber, ceramic, glass, metal and wood. Curators worked closely with a volunteer Renwick Gallery 50th Anniversary Acquisitions Committee comprised of more than 50 collectors, artists, and craft enthusiasts from across the United States. The committee was co-chaired by Myra J. Weiss, member of the museum’s board of curators, and Carolyn Mazloomi, artist, curator and scholar.

“When it comes to expanding the museum’s collection, our priority is to break down barriers further,” says Atkinson. “At 50, we have an opportunity to look back on our history, see where we have been successful and cut short and recalibrate ourselves as we embark on the next 50 years. By including people of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities and abilities in our collection and by examining all forms of craft practice with genuine curiosity, we are building a national collection that presents a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences.

Notable additions to the collection include Bisa Butler’s ‘Don’t Tread On Me, Damn, Let’s Go! – The Hellfighters of Harlem” (2021) which brings to life a separate unit of the American Expeditionary Force during the First World War; Sonya Clark’s “Monumental” (2019) which celebrates darkness while confronting historical imbalances and the roots of racial injustice; David Harper Clemons’ critique of unsustainable agricultural production and consumerism “The Weight of Deferred Gratification” (2019); “Portrait of Resilience” (2020) by Sharon Kerry-Harlan which brings together the social problems exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic; “Juicy” (2021) by Roberto Lugo reminks of luxury porcelain objects with a hip-hop touch; and “Safe Journey” (2021) by Preston Singletary (Tlingit), part of his series of “Spirit Boxes” based on traditional storage boxes from indigenous communities in the North West.

Fleur Bresler, a longtime supporter of the museum’s crafts program and a member of the museum’s board of commissioners, donated 31 works of art to the museum as part of the campaign; eight objects from this donation will be presented in the exhibition. Judith Chernoff and Jeffrey Bernstein donated 43 works from their sculptural wood art collection, all of which will be featured in this exhibition in a dedicated gallery.

Artists whose works have been acquired for the museum’s collection as part of the Renwick Gallery’s 50th anniversary acquisition campaign and who will appear in “This Present Moment” include:

Tanya Aguiñiga Corey AlstonOlga de AmaralLaura AndresonHoward Ben TréLanny BergnerGuillermo Bert Daniel BrushBisa Butler Hubert Candelario (San Felipe Pueblo)Nick CaveDavid Chatt Kelly Church (Ottawa and Pottawatomi) Sharon ChurchSonya Clark David Harper Clemons Cristina Córdova Carolyn Crump Rick DillinghamRuth DuckworthAlicia EggertJoe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes , Okanagan and Arrow Lakes) Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) Susie Ganch David GilhoolyShan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee) Donté K. Hayes Carla Hemlock (Kanienkeháka)Ron HoLisa Holt (Cochiti Pueblo) and Harlan Reano (Santo Domingo/Kewa Pueblo)Katie Hudnall Homei IseyamaChristine JoyNadine KariyaSusan KavickySharon Kerry-Harlan Chawne KimberBasil Kincaid Julia Kwon Karen LaMonteDora de LariosRon Layport Tom Loeserlinda Lopezroberto Lugo Lauren Mabry Jeannine Marchandwendy Maruyamasharon Massey Shari Mendelson Katrina Mitten (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma) Jiha Moon Marvin Oliver (Quinault/Isleta Pueblin) Jane Osti Woody De OthelomAre Clan of Akwesasne) Ché Rhodesronald Rael and Virginia San Fratellojohn Eric Riiskay Sekimachiaram Han Sifuentes Linda Sikorapreston Singletary (Tlingit) Linda Sorminrobert Sperryapril Surgentpolly Adams Sutton Marlana Onondaga) MJ Tyson Consuelo Jiménez Underwoodkukuli Velardepaul Villinskidawn Nichols Walden (descendant of Ojibway, Mackinac Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians)

Special exhibition – “This present moment: create a better world”

“This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World” will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery from May 13 to April 2, 2023. The exhibition, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the museum’s Renwick Gallery, activates the two entire floors of gallery space. Additional information is available on the museum website.

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum and his Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of American art in the world. His works of art reveal the rich artistic and cultural history of America from the colonial period to today. The main museum building is located at Eighth Street and G NW, above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Its Renwick Gallery, an annex museum dedicated to contemporary crafts and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW Museums are open on a modified schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic; check current hours and admission information. Free entry. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

Mildred D. Field