The Art of Living

October 5, 2012 – January 27, 2013 —

From hand-crafted artworks to those designed and then mass produced, The Art of Living exhibition examines the objects that inhabit our homes and adorn our bodies. A rug, book, vase, table, lamp, necklace, or garment – each work has an underpinning in the practical, yet are objects created with aesthetic intent. Featuring works created over the last 175 years, the pieces are part of a larger tradition of “utilitarian” art. While they all carry the mark of their maker, some nonetheless push the boundaries of what we know as “functional” art.

Comprised of work created by 37 artists, The Art of Living showcases 50 objects that are separated into six groups: wearable art and jewelry; furniture; toys and games; rugs and quilts; vessels and service ware; and books. While each group has works that are functional, also included are those that are extensions of utilitarian thought such as Sheila Hicks’ two large-scale fiber installations, Chad Fonfara’s “vessels,” and Jake Jacobson’s teapot.

What is important is that the works included in this exhibition highlight the changes that have occurred within the last two centuries with utilitarian art, often works that at one time were not even thought of as art. This exhibition includes objects that range from those created for daily and ritual use by Plains Indians, a book by the naturalist John James Audubon, the Arts and Crafts on-edge felt mosaic rug by Jean Thiessen, to mid-20th century fused glass jewelry by Ruth Buol and the dynamic and elegant lamps and tables by Cedric Hartman. While the majority of the works included in The Art of Living focus on function, the foundation within each is form, design, and craftsmanship.