Crystal Bridges Announces $17.5M Gift from Windgate Foundation to Champion American Craft

  • November 11, 2020 12:20

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Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Home of the Brave, 2013. Wire, silk, fabric, safety pins, and synthetic and natural threads, 72 x 99 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, photograph by Bill Apton
Sabrina Gschwandtner, Hands at Work Film , 2016. 16 mm polyester film, polyester thread, lithography ink 68 1/8 x 45 in. Photography by Joshua White Photography, jwpictures.com
Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.028, Hanging Four - Lobed Continuous Form within a Form) , ca. 1958. Iron wire, 86 1/2 in. × 32 in. × 32 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Estate of Ruth Asawa.
Nick Cave, Soundsuit , 2009. Fabric with appliquéd crochet and buttons, knitted yarn, and metal armature, 97 x 26 x 20 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography: James Prinz. Image courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has announced that Windgate Foundation has provided a $17.5 million gift to advance the field of craft through a dedicated position, research, programmatic support, as well as an acquisitions fund to bring craft objects into the museum’s permanent collection. This gift builds upon the Crystal Bridges-organized exhibition, Crafting America.

“Today, as we reflect on the nine years Crystal Bridges has been open to the public, we are grateful to the visionaries at Windgate Foundation, who have been champions of craft and fervent supporters of arts education at the museum,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer, Crystal Bridges. “The Foundation’s significant contribution will further the work and impact of the Crafting America exhibition and expand conversations about American art, history and culture. Craft is important for Crystal Bridges and aligns with our mission because it is an inherently inclusive field that has been more accessible to women, people of color, immigrants, Indigenous peoples, and other marginalized communities.”

The Windgate gift focuses on extending and elevating dialogue around craft in American art -- past, present, and future. Through a shared vision with the Foundation, Crystal Bridges seeks to raise the profile and visibility of craft by creating broad access to craft at Crystal Bridges and beyond. These new resources will help the museum champion artists, scholars and collectors, and facilitate partnerships across the field. Importantly, the gift will allow Crystal Bridges to leverage curatorial expertise and art historical knowledge, position craft within the museum’s educational programs, and advance diversity and inclusion inherent to craft. 

“Contemporary crafts in America are the backbone of the creative community, enabling artists to develop the skills and physically produce the work they envision,” said Robyn Horn, Windgate Foundation Board Chair. “It is reassuring that Crystal Bridges acknowledges this fact and will begin to collect contemporary objects as well as displaying them with their upcoming Crafting America exhibition. Windgate Foundation has long been a supporter of American craft and we are pleased to partner with Crystal Bridges in encouraging their visitors to learn about these incredible objects.”

Anne Lemanski, Tigris T - 1 , 2018, copper rod, archival print on paper, artificial sinew, epoxy, and plastic, 64 × 61 × 30 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Gift of Fleur S. Bresler, 2020.8. Photography by Steve Mann.

“Windgate Foundation’s advocacy and generosity will sustain our commitment to craft and its importance within the broad contexts of American art,” said Austen Barron Bailly, chief curator, Crystal Bridges. “With the new curatorial role and acquisition funds we can embrace the field with new energy and keep advancing craft’s dynamic influence on American art and culture.”

The debut of the museum’s exhibition Crafting America launches this endeavor

Crafting America, February 6 through May 31, 2021, will feature over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials. Crafting America presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today, highlighting the work of artists such as Ruth Asawa, Peter Voulkos, Jeffrey Gibson, Sonya Clark, and more. Craft has long been a realm accessible to the broadest range of individuals, providing an opportunity to explore personal creativity, innovation, and technical skill. This exhibition foregrounds varied backgrounds and perspectives in craft, from the vital contributions of Indigenous artists to the new skills and points of view brought by immigrants to the United States. 

Developed by Jen Padgett, associate curator at Crystal Bridges, and Glenn Adamson, guest curator and scholar of craft, design history, and contemporary art, Crafting America asserts craft’s integral role in expanding the story of American art and is accompanied by a major multi-author illustrated publication published by Crystal Bridges and the University of Arkansas Press.


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