Crafting America


Artists and Objects, 1940 to Today
Glenn Adamson and Jen Padgett
312 pages, 119 images, index
October 2020
978-1-68226-152-1 (cloth)
978-1-61075-734-8 (ebook)

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Craft is a diverse, democratic art form practiced by Americans of every gender, age, ethnicity, and class. Crafting America traces this expansive range of skilled making in a variety of forms, from ceramics and wood to performance costume and community-based practice.

A companion to an exhibition curated at Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art, this publication explores the interdisciplinary contexts of the assembled works, featuring contributions from scholars with expertise in art history, American studies, folklore, and museum studies. Essays delve into subjects including craft’s relationship to ritual and memory, personal independence, abstraction, and the particular significance of craft within Native American histories. Within the catalog section, groupings of works discussed in detail highlight relationships between objects and move beyond limiting categories of craft and art, function and expression, and tradition and innovation. This publication addresses the intertwined quality of craft and American experience, revealing how craft has been a means to realize the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Over 100 full-color illustrations present a vivid picture of American craft from the past eight decades.

Building upon recent advances in craft scholarship and encouraging more inclusive narratives that look across media in art history, Crafting America presents a bold statement on the vital role of craft within the broader context of American art and identity.

Published in collaboration with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and University of Arkansas School of Art.

Glenn Adamson is senior scholar at the Yale Center for British Art. His publications include Craft: An American History, Thinking through Craft, The Craft Reader, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, The Invention of Craft, Art in the Making, and Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects.

Jen Padgett is an assistant curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her research focuses on modern art from the 1900s to 1950s, exploring connections between media and intersections between fine art and design.

Director’s Foreword

I. Topics
Welcome to Craft
Jen Padgett

Crafting Autonomy
Seph Rodney

Embodying Indigenous Identity and Place: Centering Conversations on Native American Art in the United States
Anya Montiel

The Persistence of Abstraction: The Vessel, the Line and the Curve
Jenni Sorkin

On Reliquaries and Self-Evident Truths
Bernard L. Herman

II. Catalog

What is Craft?
Declarations of Independence
The Pursuit of Happiness

Exhibition Checklist
Selected Bibliography
Illustration Credits

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