In the Stacks with Sarah Fox: Ideas Wanted

In the Stacks with Sarah Fox: Ideas Wanted

Published on Friday, August 9, 2013.
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Ideas Wanted Suggestion (5)

Idea form submitted as part of "Ideas Wanted", a participatory exhibition held in January 1972 at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City. Photo: Sarah Fox

Ed. note: Minneapolis-based writer and poet Sarah Fox is the second resident in Coffee House Press' Writers and Readers Library Residency Program. For the next several weeks we'll post dispatches here as Sarah responds to working inside the American Craft Council's Library. In the following, Fox describes the exhibition "Ideas Wanted," documented in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts archive, which she became fascinated by while in residency at the ACC Library.  

In January of 1972, the staff of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City opened their doors and invited the public to present their ideas. A sign from the museum staff explained to visitors that “…aware of the superficiality of ‘Art’ as it now exists in most of our lives, we are interested in aesthetic concepts that have a meaning — a humanistic concern that has values beyond price tag or entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. We are therefore seeking ideas towards this concern which may be reflected in our future exhibitions and activity programs.”

Many of the responses called for participation. The format of the museum’s experiment certainly lent itself to these suggestions, but “Ideas Wanted” was a reflection of shifting perceptions of museums, art, and learning.

In the MCC archives, housed at the American Craft Council Library, boxes full of the bright yellow and orange suggestion forms reveal a fascinating cross-section of the museum’s visitors.

"Though the ideas reflect a diverse range of opinions and desires, an overwhelming number propose alternative programming and expand the boundaries of museums, craft, and even art." - from an article titled “Ideas Wanted: Experimenting With Participation” written by Amy Fox while working with Jessica Shaykett on the "Ideas Wanted" archive at the American Craft Council. 

Sarah Fox co-imagines the Center for Visionary Poetics, serves as a doula, and is a teacher of poetry and creative writing. She contributes posts on feminism, mysticism, astrology, and poetics to the blog Montevidayo and has won grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, among others. Sarah is the author of The First Flag (Coffee House Press, 2013) and Because Why (2006).

Stay tuned for more from writer-in-residence Sarah Fox, and save the date for Fox's Salon Series show-and-tell on August 22 at 7 p.m. in the ACC Library!