A mix of the mundane and the magical, the artist’s studio earns a special spotlight in an exhibition now on display from the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design.
The exhibition, which opened Aug. 24, celebrates the first decennial of the center’s Artist-in-Residence Program. It features the works of more than three dozen artists and runs till Oct. 21 at the center’s Delmar Boulevard location.
The 10th-anniversary celebration involves all three residencies at the center: the Community Artist Residency, the Craft Alliance and TechShop Residency, and the Craft Alliance Studio Artist Residency.
The first residency involves an artist “passionate about developing and fostering community through art” by working with local students “to develop, execute and install a collaborative student-authored permanent public artwork,” according to the center’s website; the second supports an emerging or midcareer artist with a strong didactic component in diverse facilities; and the third also targets an emerging or midcareer artist wishing to develop his or her work in a spacious, collaborative, community-based facility.
“The exhibition includes almost everyone from the past 10 years,” says Stefanie Kirkland, who directs exhibitions and the Artist-in-Residence Program (generally recognized as a program created to invite artists, academicians and curators to reside within the premises of an institution). “While different ‘concentrations’ have evolved over the years, all artists operate within this one program. The designations [mentioned] are recent in their division and nomenclature, but all artists work more generally within the same program.”
Kirkland continues by dwelling a bit more on the program’s three residencies. “The division is a new development for us,” she says. “Depending on the year, the popularity of specific concentrations fluctuates, but generally they are all equally popular and attract a number of high-caliber applicants.”
Kirkland also succinctly describes what the program’s nationwide competitive selection process involves: “Professionals from the craft and art community from throughout the art world sit down to review applications, which include a portfolio, letter of intent, references and résumés. Not only do we want to see high-quality work, but we also want to help artists improve their work and foster a renewed engagement with the community.”
From a geographic perspective, she adds, the program has welcomed a variegated contingent of creators over time. “Some artists have come all the way from California and Connecticut,” Kirkland says, “but about half are from the immediate region.”
The exhibition reflects such diversity. “We have everything from functional pottery to sculptural work, theatrical pieces, jewelry and work that makes use of lighted elements,” Kirkland says. “It’s an eclectic exhibition that reveals the breadth of the artists who have been involved with the program.”
Although she diplomatically declines to cite specific examples of works involved in the exhibition that most impress her personally, Kirkland does sketch a few details about a trio of them.
“No favorites – everyone brings with them a unique voice,” she says. “Some are, however, unexpected. Abby Lowe has converted an antique trunk into a stage and interactive diorama or exploratorium of the story of Ophelia [from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet]. Will Rimel, who is interested in fine art toys and collectables, has created a ceramic toy whose arms move. Jessica Anderson electroforms plastic bags to create sculptural jewelry that looks at how we choose to adorn our body and use materials.”
In that regard, backtracking from Delmar Boulevard to Grand Boulevard – the site of the actual studios – the electric eclecticism of the exhibition certainly seems to reflect the atmosphere of those studios, at least as Kirkland explains it.
“Each artist receives [his or her] own private studio, but the studios all open up to the community studios at our Grand location,” she says. “They have amazing access to complete ceramics, metalsmithing, 3D printing, woodturning and fiber studios.
“As to the general vibe – I think it’s busy, creative but also relaxing. Everyone is there to follow their passion and make work.”
Finally, specifically, Kirkland dwells on the artists currently in residence, who, like prior resident artists, have come to the center at variable starting dates throughout a given year for terms ranging from three to nine months.
“Interestingly, all are clay-focused right now,” she says. “They all help each other with critiques and foster a supporting environment. Two of them are very engaged in community projects – Sajeda Issa has been working with the kids at the [St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center], and Malaika Tolford, our current community artist, has been teaching at [St. Louis’] Roosevelt High School.
“Lindsay Pichaske is one of the more-established artists we’ve had in a while – she was just at [Helena, Montana’s] Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts. She just started her residency on July 1, and we’re excited to see what she gets up to.”
Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, 6640 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-725-1177; 501 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314-534-7528, craftalliance.org