RAW: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism
September 29, 2019 — January 5, 2020
RAW: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism features nine contemporary artists who work with commodities including sugar, salt, copper, porcelain, and water to explore the historical and contemporary effects of global capitalism. The artists’ deliberate use of these materials acknowledges the complex and enduring legacy of the capitalistic structures that produced these raw materials, such as slavery, colonialism, and industrialization, and their ongoing human and environmental impact.
The exhibition artists examine these issues in a variety of ways. Charmaine Bee, Sonya Clark, and Raksha Parekh examine global diasporas and their family histories by tracing the migration, trade routes, and goods that historically accompanied the transatlantic slave trade. Atul Bhalla, Ignacio Perez Meruane, Amor Muñoz, and Ken + Julia Yonetani investigate specific geological areas and the effects that industrial expansion has had on those regions’ local environments and cultural practices. Jovencio de la Paz and Juana Valdes actively research the colonial enterprises that led to the global distribution of their chosen commodities. Through their works, the artists acknowledge the complicated, and often invisible, histories embedded in these materials.
A core tenet of craft is making process and material visible. Traditionally, craft historians have centered the discourse about artists’ materials within an art historical framework, focused on formal and conceptual concerns. The artists in RAW are at the forefront of expanding these conversations by recognizing the geopolitical associations embedded in the materials they employ, asking us to do the same.
Exhibition Artists: Charmaine Bee, Atul Bhalla, Sonya Clark, Raksha Parekh, Jovencio de la Paz, Ignacio Perez Meruane, Amor Muñoz, Juana Valdes, Ken + Julia Yonetani.
Curator: Holly Jerger
This exhibition is funded in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance. Exhibition research was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft.
Exhibition Photography: Blake Jacobsen