Fine craft is equal parts tradition and innovation, passion and obsession, filtered through the skills and the sensibilities of artisans. Making craft is a form of thinking, a communication across generations.
In a new exhibition opening August 8 at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG), Island artisans respond to the theme of ‘creative obsessions’ with innovative works drawing on craft traditions to mark Craft Year 2020. Creative Obsessions is organized by the CCAG in collaboration with the PEI Crafts Council, and is guest curated by Ray Cronin and Sarah Maloney.
Fine craft has always demanded an element of obsession: the artist has to master varied techniques, often difficult materials, and do so in a manner that keeps them engaged in the long hours from conception to production, all the while striving to make something that viewers will find equally compelling. Success is never a given—failure is an all too familiar studio companion for every artist and craftsperson. Of course, it is often through failure that artists learn the most.
Participating craftspeople in this new exhibition include: Jim Aquilani, Nancy Cole, Jamie Germaine, Arlene MacAusland, Rilla Marshall, Melissa Peter Paul, Jody Racicot, Ayelet Stewart, Isako Suzuki, Jane Whitten, and Bette Young.
The 11 artists in Creative Obsessions have also been challenged by our times, with the increased isolation brought on by COVID-19, interruptions in their supply chains for materials, and the disruption of their normal routines. Some artists have chosen to respond directly to the issues of our day, while others have redoubled their focus on their materials and the specific technical and historical processes in which they practice.
“Every artist, like every person, has been affected by COVID,” states Sarah Maloney, co-curator. “It has been remarkable to hear from the artists how they have risen to the challenges set for them in these difficult times. You can really see how their passion drives them.”
There is no one right answer of course, acknowledges Co-curator Ray Cronin: “art is more about questions, anyway.” Creative Obsessions highlights the probing questioning— of techniques and materials, of local and global issues, of historical and cultural contexts— that define the work of 10 of the Island’s most accomplished fine craftspeople.
PEI Professional Theatre Network