Atmospheres, objects, symbols, gestures, moments, pleasures. These are among the words—painted on panels and part of an installation called Signs of Love, made by the artist Ree Morton in 1976—that float on the walls at the entrance to a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art entitled Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019.
It’s a fitting welcome. Devotees of craft, long accustomed to exclusion from America’s most powerful art institutions, will feel like pinching themselves. Curated by Jennie Goldstein and Elisabeth Sherman, the installation is impressive in its scope: from famed makers like textile artist Lenore Tawney and ceramists Peter Voulkos and Betty Woodman to contemporary art-stars like sculptors Jeffrey Gibson and Simone Leigh and emerging talents (look out for the work of Jordan Nassar, inspired by ancient Palestinian embroidery). Liza Lou’s all-beadwork Kitchen, brimming with colorful feminist brio,serves as a spectacular finale.
Presciently, the Whitney has been collecting this material all along, though only rarely showing it. Now its time has come.
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 • Whitney Museum of American Art • to January 2021 • whitney.org