Top 10 Craft Shows to See in 2018

Top 10 Craft Shows to See in 2018

Pancho Jiménez, Passage

Pancho Jiménez, Passage, 2016, 17 x 15 x 5 in.

R. R. Jones

It was midnight, December 31, 2017. By the light of a candle in a handforged iron holder, we (the editorial we, that is) made our way up a winding, creaky staircase (must get that repaired!) and fetched our handblown crystal ball from the attic. We placed the sphere in its turned-wood stand, draped ourselves in layers of handwoven shawls, and took a sip of a steaming mystical brew (chamomile) from a wheel-thrown mug. Leaning forward, we peered into the depths and implored, “O crystal ball, tell us: What will 2018 bring in fantastic shows of fine craft? We’re not asking for an exhaustive list – even you can’t do that in one night. Just give us a hint. Ten will do.” 

CA / Los Angeles
Craft & Folk Art Museum
"Melting Point: Movements in Contemporary Clay" 
Jan. 28 – May 6  
Forget what you think works in clay are, or can be. The museum’s first clay biennial is all about the next frontiers in shaping, firing, glazing, and speaking with clay, with sculptures, installations, and other works by about two dozen artists who aim to say something new in a new way. 

CA / Los Angeles
Fowler Museum at UCLA
"Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths" 
Jun. 3 – Dec. 30  
For thousands of years, the blacksmiths of sub-Saharan Africa have created tools for hunting and agriculture, jewelry and musical instruments for enjoyment, and ritual objects for protection. This show of more than 225 objects, curated by a team led by blacksmithing force and MacArthur Fellow Tom Joyce, surveys two millennia of artistry in iron. 

CA / San Francisco
Museum of Craft and Design
"Judy Kensley McKie: Cast of Characters" 
Jun. 2 – Oct. 28  
When furniture maker Judy Kensley McKie began working in cast bronze some 30 years ago, she turned to Artworks Foundry, where master artisan Piero Mussi’s team helped bring her graceful designs, many in the shapes of animals, into the world. The foundry kept sketches, molds, and models from this process, creating a tangible record of the collaboration that forms one part of this exhibition; the other is a number of McKie’s finished bronzes. 

DC / Washington
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
"No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man" 
Mar. 30 – Sep. 16  
Thousands make the trek into the Nevada desert each year to be part of the creative community that springs up around Labor Day, then disappears. During Burning Man week, many participants make artworks ranging from large installations (some of which are built to be ritually burned down) to costumes and jewelry, as expressions of the community’s values of making, sharing, self-expression, and decommodification. The Renwick has gathered examples, and will turn over its whole building to this evocation of the event’s unique spirit and art.

NM / Santa Fe
Museum of International Folk Art
"Beadwork Adorns the World" 
Apr. 22 – Feb. 3, 2019  
From the island of Murano near Venice and the Bohemian mountains in the Czech Republic, countless glass beads roll into existence each year. From there, they scatter into every corner of the globe, turning up in apparel and artwork in vastly varied cultures. Here is a celebration of glass beads’ ubiquity, whatever the source, the makers who use them, and how beads become an integral part of the visual story wherever they come to rest. 

OR / Portland
Portland Art Museum
"CCNA : Interwoven Radiance" 
to Jun. 24  
The museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art honors work by women who weave in the Ravenstail and Chilkat styles, used by Native peoples in the Pacific Northwest for ceremonial regalia. On view: robes in the geometric, mostly black-and-white Ravenstail style, and in the enormously complex Chilkat style, with curving designs representing clan crests, animals, and other figures. 

PA / Philadelphia
Center for Art in Wood
"Connie Mississippi: Circle of Time" 
Apr. 21 – Jul. 20  
Painter and wood sculptor Connie Mississippi has long kept dream journals, studied kabbalah, and traveled widely. This show looks at how those explorations inform her 2D and 3D work.

PA / Pittsburgh
Contemporary Craft
"Visual Voices: Truth Narratives" 
Mar. 14 – Aug. 18  
If every picture tells a story and is worth a thousand words, ceramic objects are a whole extra dimension’s worth of eloquent. This NCECA annual show focuses on the narrative superpowers of clay, with works by 35 artists that tell of personal experiences as well as of the social issues that unite and divide: race, class, gender, religion. 

TN / Gatlinburg
Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts
"Katja Toporski: SpaceTime" 
Aug. 23 – Oct. 12  
Jewelry artist Katja Toporski’s work has a vibe both ancient and futuristic. Her résumé offers clues to this duality: It outlines her artistic training and background right alongside her 10 years as an anesthesiologist. In their exploration of the profound mysteries of birth and death, she believes, art and medicine are not so very different. 

WA / Bellevue
Bellevue Arts Museum
"BAM Biennial 2018: BAM! Glasstastic" 
Nov. 9 – Apr. 14, 2019  
Past iterations of the museum’s biennial have been titled “Clay Throwdown,” “High Fiber Diet,” “Knock on Wood,” and “Metalmorphosis,” and each has put the best of the Northwest in its particular medium on parade. In 2018, glass gets to shine, with special emphasis on what’s new, newer, newest in the field.