From January 16 to June 19, 2021, Craft in America will present an exhibition entitled Making Waves: Ocean Ecology & Craft that will focus on works by artists who deal with various ecological and human-generated threats to our oceans in a variety of media. This exhibition will be on display at the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles and amplified by an expansive virtual exhibition. Artists include Po Shun Leong, Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Jennifer McCurdy, Christopher Edwards, Linda Gass, Sarah McMenimen, and more from across the U.S.
In an era of climate crisis, ocean ecology is one of many issues facing our society and the public conscious. Climate change is one of the largest existential and physical threats to human life on Earth. The work of the artists featured in this exhibition sheds light on the impact of climate change on the bodies of water across the planet, the hazards to life within them, and their vitality to our existence. These artworks document the beauty of the natural world that exists underwater. They remind us about the need to protect these resources before we are left with nothing more than their artistic likenesses.
Craft-based artists are particularly honed in on materials and process. Materials can be rich with metaphorical potential. Artists often evoke these messages in their choice of media. In depicting nature through delicate, intricately manipulated materials, these artists demonstrate and echo how precious and delicate our environment and resources truly are. Works in clay, glass, and other materials can survive for millennia but also have an inherent fragility.
Artist and Otis professor Joan Takayama Ogawa, whose work largely inspired the initiation of the exhibition, has been making intricately formed and carved earthenware totems about global warming and the impact on coral since she first noticed bleaching while swimming in Hawaii nearly30 years ago. She has applied this concern to her own studio and added energy saving steps, solar power, and low fire clay to her practice in response, while leading a charge to bring tools to artists who wish to make their practices more eco-responsible. Similarly, Jennifer McCurdy uses the translucency of porcelain to echo the bonelike living structures of coral while designer and artist Po Shun Leong carves wood into complex patterns and forms in homage to life under the sea.
As artists who are addressing concerns for the environment, these individuals make every effort to weigh the eco-impact of their own practices. This includes the sourcing of materials and the carbon imprint of their methods of production. The exhibition will be paired with related public and education programs, including artist talks, Craft in Schools workshops for underserved K-12 public school students, a Reading Craft session and a Craft in Action lecture.