The following is a quotation from a brilliant exhibition essay for a brilliant exhibition curated by my brilliant friend and colleague Glenn Gordon. You can read more of his exhibition essay on mnartists.org, and you can find out more about the show, called “Functional Sculpture: Furniture from the Upper Midwest,” on Charleton College’s website.
EVERYTHING IN THE CURRENT WORLD OF ART and design seems to want to be what it is not, or at least not what it used to be. Contemporary craft wants to be thought of as art. Art, disdaining the fuss and preciousness of craft, wants to be conceptual. Photography wants to be painterly and painting wants to be photographic. Architecture wants so much to be sculpture that it shoulders actual sculpture aside. Sculpture, meanwhile, maybe in self-defense, wants to be about the creation of sites—it wants to be architecture. Furniture, like other fields of design, is restive with its niche and pushing against the limits of genre. You could look at this churning of old categories as a symptom of ferment, or as a sign of confusion, or both. With imagery streaming freely in all directions, formerly unrelated ideas are combing through each other and giving rise to hybrids that would have been unimaginable as recently as 10 years ago.