Saves Nine – in process and behind the scenes

Image credit: Leah Decter
“Five blanket suite: jack pine” (detail)
size variable
Hudson bay blankets, wood

Saves Nine is an upcoming MCC exhibition that sets out to be a cross-generational look at post-disciplinary craft, specifically as it is represented in the works of artists active in Manitoba today.  As the curator of Saves Nine, I am working to bring together a group exhibition that deals with questions around what post-disciplinary craft can look like and what, where, who, why, and how it exists in Manitoba.  This is shaping up to be a complex query!  And the exhibition is bringing together a very eclectic and exciting group of makers to answer it.  Through a series of four blog posts, of which this is the first, I hope to better make sense of this by sharing it with you and responding to your comments!
In this first post, I would like to explore the basic premises behind Saves Nine: post-disciplinary craft, cross-generational, and Manitoba!  Perhaps some of you remember the relatively recent MCC exhibition Hovercraft: Navigating the shorelines of art and craftThis was a 2011-12 curatorial exploration by Jenny Western and myself on post-disciplinary craft made by Manitoba artists in the “under 35 years old” age range.  It featured artists that transcend the divisions between art and craft.  Utilizing craft materials, techniques, and/or aesthetics for their conceptual and political properties rather than strictly for their historical connotations or traditional associations, these makers work across the disciplines, rather than within a particular discipline.  More than this being a change to a post-disciplinary approach to the materials, it is a shift in the over-all mindset and approach to making – one where the craft becomes one of the techniques that are employed to see the intention of the work come to fruition.
“Post-disciplinary” is a term that theorist Glenn Adamson brought to the forefront of craft theory in approximately 2007 and it has now been adopted and talked about at length throughout the international craft/art community.  It is often associated with young people who have come out of more inter-disciplinary craft education systems, where students are more likely to learn multiple techniques within an art school setting rather than mastering one technique in a more traditional setting such as an apprenticeship.
After spending time considering the younger set of Manitoba makers in this light, I was interested to find out what might be the lineage of post-displinary craft within Manitoba.  Does this way of making have predecessors?  Are there people that have been making in this way for a while?  What might we find when we look at artists born of different eras and experiences in terms of lineage, continuity, and historical reference?  How might they approach craft materials, techniques, and concepts differently or similarly in their art practices?  Saves Nine aims to look at and question what is new and what is old about the use of craft in the artwork of Manitobans of all ages and stages of their career.  It intends to identify and celebrate the post-disciplinary craft history of Manitoba.
Saves Nine will be presented from August 2-31, 2013 at aceartinc in Winnipeg.  In future blog postings leading up to the exhibition opening, I’ll be giving you a glimpse into the work of some of the artists included in the show and continuing to flesh out the Saves Nine concept.