Allison Smith: Piece Work
FEBRUARY 4–mAY 29, 2011
In the exhibition Piece Work, Oakland-based artist Allison Smith presented sculptures and works on paper that referred to different American decorative arts and craft traditions, creating a space for both contemplation and activity. Included in the exhibition was a large-scale braided rug, begun by the artist and completed by visitors working on-site in the gallery. Many of the works on view recalled those craft traditions born in the cultures of wartime such as cloth gas masks and the rug itself which, much like a quilting bee, invited its producers to share stories about war and its effects while making the work. In addition to this installation, the exhibition featured a suite of programs inviting local artists, craftsmen and visitors to create work in the museum. This element of the exhibition extended the work begun at SMITHS, an Oakland-based store run by the artist in the tradition of general stores as intimate public spaces of exchange. The gatherings she hosted at MCA Denver similarly engaged visitors in conversations about the craft traditions that characterize the wartime environment. Through participation and discussion, this exhibition offered a different means for engaging with history and drawing out our present day understanding of the war experience.
This exhibition was curated by MCA Denver Associate Curator Nora Burnett Abrams. There were several programs held in conjunction with the exhibition.
image: Allison Smith. Fancy Work (Colonial Wall Sconce) (detail), 2010. Steel, acrylic mirror Plexiglass, blown glass, mixed media. Courtesy the artist.