Smithsonian American Art Museum Announces Four Artists Selected for Its Renwick Craft Invitational 2009

April 1, 2008
News Release
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A panel of three distinguished experts in American crafts and decorative arts has selected ceramic artist Christyl Boger, fiber artist Mark Newport, glass artist Mary Van Cline and ceramic artist SunKoo Yuh for the Renwick Craft Invitational 2009. Each artist uses traditional craft media in new ways to create figurative and narrative works. This biennial exhibition is made possible through The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment.

The artists were chosen by Kate Bonansinga, director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso; Jane Milosch, Renwick Gallery curator; and Paul J. Smith, director emeritus of the Museum of Arts & Design.

"The Smithsonian American Art Museum is delighted to provide a national showcase at its Renwick Gallery for exceptional artists from across the United States who are well-established in their respective craft fields but deserve greater recognition," said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "The biennial Renwick Craft Invitational provides a wonderful opportunity to present the work of Christyl Boger, Mark Newport, Mary Van Cline and SunKoo Yuh to new audiences."

Boger (b. 1959), an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, draws from the tradition of gilded ceramic figurines but subverts their association with domestic décor by increasing the scale of the work to nearly life-size and incorporates contemporary props. Newport (b. 1964), artist-in-residence and head of the fiber department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., examines issues of masculinity with his knitted superhero costumes; the soft material and embroidered details contradict the image of strength and power often associated with these characters. Van Cline (b. 1954), who lives and works in Seattle, uses sheet glass and pâte de verre to construct sculptural pieces that incorporate black-and-white photographs of figures—sometimes draped and masked—that are staged in landscapes and architectural settings. Yuh (b. 1960), an associate professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, creates densely layered ceramic sculptures that explore complex issues of family, faith and community using glazes that suggest antique Chinese ceramics and imagery drawn from Eastern and Western traditions.

Bonansinga is the guest curator for the exhibition; Milosch is the museum's coordinating curator. The Invitational will open to the public at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum July 31, 2009, and a catalog with essays by Bonansinga and an introduction by Milosch accompanies the exhibition.

The biennial exhibition series at the Renwick Gallery was established in 2000 to honor the creativity and talent of craft artists working today. The first in the series, "Five Women in Craft," featured Myra Mimlitsch Gray, Mary Jackson, Janel Jacobson, Sondra Sherman and Consuelo Jiménez Underwood. Subsequent exhibitions were "Four Discoveries in Craft" in 2002, which showcased the work of James Koehler, Gyöngy Laky, Kristina Logan and Kim Rawdin, and "From the Ground Up" in 2007, which featured the work of Paula Bartron, Jocelyn Châteauvert, Beth Lipman and Beth Cavener Stichter.

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts and decorative arts from the 19th through the 21st centuries. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Metro stations: Farragut North (Red line) and Farragut West (Blue and Orange lines). Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY). Web site:

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