Aug 2, 2010

Fuller Craft Museum

Last Friday I took a field trip out to Brockton, MA to the Fuller Museum of Craft with a dear friend. I have been to the museum, but not lately - last time I was there it was named the Fuller Art Museum, and I have some great memories of life drawing and portraiture classes I took before I started at Massachusetts College of Art. Actually, nowadays MassArt is named "Massachusetts College of Art and Design", so I guess everything I experienced in my teens has gone through some form of rebranding.

Migration  installation by Nancy Train Smith
The new name of the Fuller Museum is appropriate for the work featured there - though the museum is small, there were plenty of handcrafted pieces grouped in several exhibits representing global and local artisans. Rather than featuring traditional paintings or sculpture, the works are contemporary, intriguing, and thought-provoking handcrafted works.

Memories of Reading series by Tim Tate

The first exhibit we saw, The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft,  explored new media such as digital audio and video in concert with traditional materials. I was especially taken with Tim Tate's blown glass globes containing small video of pages turning and books burning - part of his series Memories of Reading. The way the glass contained the digital elements made the new technology seem old and treasured, scientific.

Sounding by Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca

The whole exhibit made me feel very open to new possibilities within art - being experimental. Also a bit whimsical, as you can see by our shots of the megaphone (playing actual undersea recordings!).

Megaplanet with Double Spiral  Josh Simpson

We stepped over to the glass exhibit next, Josh Simpson: a Visionary Journey in Glass. A Massachusetts glass artisan, Simpson's work is just breathtaking. The photos here cannot do the pieces justice - if you are reading this and are in the area, I hope you go see the exhibit firsthand. The pieces Simpson has created are layered with minute pieces of glass within larger glass globes that have the effect of ecosystems teeming with life. As you look through the surface you just see through multiple levels of abstracted glass shapes resembling corals, anenomies and other sea creatures. Simpson calls the globes planets, and the organic shapes are open to interpretation. I see floating underwater life, other might see spaceships over a landscape.

a piece from the Tektites series

Other pieces included are more utilitarian - goblets, vases, platters molded from glass, but all incorporate organic textures. Several of the pieces are cast glass with a rough exterior modeled after meteorites. The museum also presented a film of the artist working with other masters in creating a 100 plus pound layered planet. The technical difficulties in making the piece were scary - but really fascinating.

The exhibit upstairs for Mariko Kusumoto: Unfolding Stories was another remarkable series. Kusumoto is a Japanese artist working in metals incorporating etching, printing, enameling and compositing of intricate metal sculptures that open, fold, and transform. The pieces are heavily detailed, ranging from folded dioramas to boxes filled with smaller sculptures. Photos were not allowed for this exhibit, so I would encourage you to go see the work before the show concludes on August 8th. 

After my visit to the Museum I feel inspired to incorporate more diverse materials and methods into my work. Also it reassures me that there is value in being a creative even in this economy. Sometimes in struggling to recreate my life to include more artistic work, I feel so much doubt that it's hard to breathe. Experiencing these works of art and the artists freedom of expression is like getting a blast of oxygen. This is my reminder to breathe deep and have faith in the creative spirit.


  1. hey lisa....

    thank you so much for going to see and talking about my work. i very much appreciate it!

    tim tate

  2. You are very welcome Tim! I loved seeing your work, and find the way you combined glass and new media inspiring.