American values, inclusion explored in exhibition at Auburn University museum

American values, inclusion explored in exhibition at Auburn University museum
This piece by Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, titled “Home of the Brave,” is part of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art’s “Crafting America” exhibition. It was created in 2013 using wire, silk, fabric, safety pins and synthetic and natural threads. (Michael Tropea)

Following its debut at the acclaimed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the exhibition “Crafting America” is on display through Sept. 12 at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.

The new exhibition, organized by the Crystal Bridges Museum, celebrates the skill and individuality of craft within the broad context of American art – from jewelry to furniture to sculptures and more. While many works are from the organizing museum, others are loans from private collections and major institutions like the National Museum of the American Indian and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Featuring 90 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass and other materials, “Crafting America” presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today. Esteemed artists in the exhibit include Sonya Clark, Beatrice Wood, Shan Goshorn, Nick Cave and Maria Martinez.

“The artists featured in Crafting America explore through their creativity what can often be complicated notions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those who struggled to achieve or were denied those civil rights,” said Cindi Malinick, director and chief curator of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. “And the opportunity to partner with Crystal Bridges, one of the nation’s leading museums, and open a campus dialogue through art about our similarities and differences and where those perspectives intersect to foster understanding, is an honor. It is important viewing for our times.”

Craft has long been a realm accessible to the broadest range of people, providing an opportunity to explore creativity, innovation and technical skill. This exhibition foregrounds varied backgrounds and perspectives in craft, from the vital contributions of indigenous artists to the skills and points of view brought by women and immigrants to the United States.

“Craft is relevant,” Malinick said. “You likely have a craft object with a personal connection – an heirloom quilt or a well-loved piece of handmade furniture. Along with images of these treasures, we will include their stories from students, alumni, donors and visitors in an interactive gallery space and as a digital feature, ‘Share Your Craft Story.’”

Major works from Auburn’s collection will complement the loaned objects, featuring artists Jiha Moon and Yamada Kensuke.

A multi-author illustrated research publication published by Crystal Bridges and the University of Arkansas Press is available in the museum shop. Curated art by regional artists and makers is available for purchase.

Other works on view through Sept. 12 include “Outside In,” an interdisciplinary exhibition with Auburn’s Museum of Natural History featuring Audubon works-on-paper and flowering plant specimens. In addition, the grounds are open with outdoor sculpture, water features and landscaped walking paths, with the monumental interactive sculpture “Down Where Paradise Lay” by Patrick Dougherty.

The “Crafting America” national tour is sponsored by the Windgate Foundation. The exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is at 901 S. College St. in Auburn. Regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, visit

This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.

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