Ben J. Cunningham
Lolly Pop Necklace from the Just Playing and Having Fun Series, 1999
Found candy and metal spring
13 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 3 inches
Racine art Museum, Gift of the Artist
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Expect the Unexpected: Unusual Materials in Contemporary Craft

October 21, 2020 – July 3, 2021

Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning—an oval-shaped painting trimmed with a piece of rope as a frame—is often acknowledged as one of the first assemblage pieces as it incorporated a found object as part of the composition. Picasso’s work is also an early modern illustration of the idea that artists sometimes willingly utilize and experiment with materials that were produced for purposes other than art-making.

The advent of industrialization in modern Western societies encouraged the production of more goods and, ultimately, more excess and waste. This reality—as well as the idea that artists were able to focus more on the investigations of personal interests rather than commissions—led to endless new possibilities for using unexpected materials in their creative endeavors.

Expect the Unexpected features artworks drawn from RAM’s collection that incorporate unusual, surprising, or challenging materials. Rather than shying away from the potential care challenges they might entail, RAM embraces these objects as reflections of the inventiveness and experimentation that characterizes much contemporary art. However, RAM acknowledges that preserving and caring for works made of unusual materials does present some unexpected challenges. For example, artist Wesley Fleming’s Hornet’s Nest—which combines an actual found hornet’s nest with flameworked glass hornets—poses long-term conservation issues that are far different than those of a traditional ceramic or glass vessel. Similarly, artist Joy Raskin created spoon brooches with handles accented with actual aspirin tablets, which necessitate strategies for preservation far different from those usually associated with metal jewelry and objects.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Artists in the Exhibition

Jerry Bleem, Patty Cokus, Susie Colquitt, Ben J. Cunningham, Teresa Faris, Wesley Fleming, Robly A. Glover, Lindsay Obermeyer, Emiko Oye, Joy Raskin, Karyl Sisson, Janna Syvänoja, Cynthia Toops, Jan Yager, and Sebastian Zarius

Expect the Unexpected: Unusual Materials in Contemporary Craft

October 21, 2020 – July 3, 2021
Ben J. Cunningham
Lolly Pop Necklace from the Just Playing and Having Fun Series, 1999
Found candy and metal spring
13 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 3 inches
Racine art Museum, Gift of the Artist
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning—an oval-shaped painting trimmed with a piece of rope as a frame—is often acknowledged as one of the first assemblage pieces as it incorporated a found object as part of the composition. Picasso’s work is also an early modern illustration of the idea that artists sometimes willingly utilize and experiment with materials that were produced for purposes other than art-making.

The advent of industrialization in modern Western societies encouraged the production of more goods and, ultimately, more excess and waste. This reality—as well as the idea that artists were able to focus more on the investigations of personal interests rather than commissions—led to endless new possibilities for using unexpected materials in their creative endeavors.

Expect the Unexpected features artworks drawn from RAM’s collection that incorporate unusual, surprising, or challenging materials. Rather than shying away from the potential care challenges they might entail, RAM embraces these objects as reflections of the inventiveness and experimentation that characterizes much contemporary art. However, RAM acknowledges that preserving and caring for works made of unusual materials does present some unexpected challenges. For example, artist Wesley Fleming’s Hornet’s Nest—which combines an actual found hornet’s nest with flameworked glass hornets—poses long-term conservation issues that are far different than those of a traditional ceramic or glass vessel. Similarly, artist Joy Raskin created spoon brooches with handles accented with actual aspirin tablets, which necessitate strategies for preservation far different from those usually associated with metal jewelry and objects.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Artists in the Exhibition

Jerry Bleem, Patty Cokus, Susie Colquitt, Ben J. Cunningham, Teresa Faris, Wesley Fleming, Robly A. Glover, Lindsay Obermeyer, Emiko Oye, Joy Raskin, Karyl Sisson, Janna Syvänoja, Cynthia Toops, Jan Yager, and Sebastian Zarius

Gallery of Work

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

The Estate of Karen Johnson Boyd
David Charak
Judith and David Flegel Fund
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Racine Community Foundation logo
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

City of Racine’s Grow Racine Grant
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation
Ruth Arts Foundation

Gold Sponsors

Anonymous
Tom and Irene Creecy
Richard and Patricia Ehlert
Trio Foundation of St. Louis
W.T. Walker Group, Inc.
Wisconsin Arts Board

Silver Sponsors

Anonymous
Baird
Beta Diagnostic Labs
A.C. Buhler Family
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Jim Harris
Sharon and Tom Harty
Horizon Retail Construction, Inc.
Lise Iwon
J. Jeffers & Co.
Johnson Financial Group
Dorothy MacVicar
Jan Serr and John Shannon

Bronze Sponsors

Ellen and Joseph Albrecht
Andis Foundation
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Dave’s Wine Garage
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Bill and Debbie Keland
Susan Manalli
Jean and Alex Mandli, Jr.
The Prairie School
Cathy Stanghellin
Twin Disc, Inc.

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