WASHINGTON D.C. — The Smithsonian American Art Museum hosted a panel discussion in the McEvoy Auditorium on Saturday as part of the James Renwick Alliance's 2014 Spring Craft Weekend. An audience of over 125 heard from leaders in their fields: the 2014 JRA Distinguished Educator honorees Dan Dailey, Peter Held, Glen Kaufman, Patti Warashina and moderator Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The panel discussion, titled "Materialism: The Medium or the Message" was centered on the material focus of the four artists, and the development of a still unnamed art movement. Each artist illustrated a history of involvement with their chosen material and their unique process of work. The event streamed live on the Smithsonian American Art Museum website and Youtube.
The discussion was inspired by Dailey's "Materialism" interview and lecture series (2009 – ongoing) created in collaboration with Joe Rapone, Associate Professor at UArts in Philadelphia. Materialism defines a late 20th century art movement where studio artists gained a mastery of materials traditionally employed by artisans using clay, glass, fibers, wood and metal. Following introductory presentations by the artists, Dailey made a presentation showing artists he has interviewed as subjects of his lecture series.
Ms. Agro's perspective as a curator gives her key insights to this art movement's relevance in the history of art. Her thought provoking questions elicited fascinating responses from the artists that kept the audience engaged throughout the discussion. Many educators, scholars and art dealers in attendance participated and expressed their own views about the development of the material art movement. Watch the entire event below.