Video and Podcast | Namita Gupta Wiggers and Benjamin Lignel on Contemporary Jewelry

This is Not a Book: A Test Drive through Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective.

Contemporary jewelry is doing OK. It does not need another pat on the back in the form of a 300-page book of images.

When taking on the task of editor in 2010, Damian Skinner decided to treat Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective as an opportunity to examine jewelry as a mature, fully developed practice. Rather than propose yet another set of justifications for its existence, he led a project to provide instruments to navigate the spaces in which jewelry lives (Part 1), to understand the history of the field (Part 2), and to grasp some of the contentious issues that animate jewelry today (Part 3).

This joint lecture by Benjamin Lignel and Namita Wiggers, both contributors to Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective, Part 1, will look at the history of contemporary jewelry through the lens of some of its defining moments. Why was the critique of preciousness so important? What exactly is de-skilling, and does it herald the end of bench-based craft? Why is inheritance an issue for long-term preservation of contemporary jewelry?

Lignel and Wiggers will also discuss the spaces of contemporary jewelry, revealing how they are both found and invented as products of contemporary practice. We will show how such spaces are determined by maker’s willingness to appropriate them and to challenge the limits of what is historically “given.”

While we share some assumptions about contemporary jewelry, our positions as curator and editor/maker have colored, and to some extent polarized, how we think about the field. This lecture is meant to test our methodology and to better understand the functionality of the book as a user-friendly tool kit. The lecture will pick up selected tools in a non-linear presentation of a non-linear book with the goal of leaving the audience with the strange urge to burn, and then redraw the plinth on which contemporary jewelry sits.

This program is co-sponsored by Art Jewelry Forum and the MFA in Applied Craft + Design. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Posted on 11/08 at 04:26 PM

Common Threads Opening

Common Threads, a collaborative mentorship project and exhibition between select PNCA undergraduates and members of the Columbia Fiber Arts Guild, opens tonight in the Lab at MoCC, 5:30-7pm. This event is free and open to the public! Please join us to celebrate a summer’s worth of skill-building, creative challenges, and cultivating community through handcraft.

Laura Burke
Shannon Delahanty
Julie Forbush
Erin Fox
Nicolo Gentile
Shiela Laufer
Madeline Manson
Anastasia McLaughlin
Claire Redman

Organized by Chelsea Heffner and Sarah Margolis-Pineo, with assistance from Caitlin Sweet, (MFA AC+D, ’14)

Posted on 10/24 at 10:48 AM

PODCAST: Karl Burkheimer on the Act of Looking

Photo by Karl Burkheimer.

CraftPerspectives Lecture | Karl Burkheimer on The Art of Looking

Visual Artist and woodworker Karl Burkheimer presents, Haptic Gaze: Searching Material Sensibility.

Visual artist Karl Burkheimer, a recipient of the Japan-US Creative Artists Fellowship, spent the summer traveling through the rural and urban landscape of Japan. He spent his journey seeking the sources and the inspiration that sustains his creative practice. Focusing on architectural spaces and vernacular environments associated with utility, ceremony, respite, and seclusiveness: teahouses, hermitages, sheds, and shacks. During his talk, Karl will present his work, particularly the practice and motivation behind it, including the importance of his travels within Japan. Karl’s blog, The Act of Looking, is a visual chronicle of his travels. Take a look on Tumblr:

Karl Burkheimer is the Chair of the MFA in Craft at Oregon College of Art & Craft and a program advisor to PNCA/OCAC’s joint MFA in Applied Craft+Design. He earned an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelors in Environmental Design in Architecture from North Carolina State University at Raleigh, NC. Prior to joining the faculty at OCAC, Karl was an Assistant Professor of design at Virginia Commonwealth University’s branch campus in Qatar. He has also worked with students and faculty from the University of Manitoba as a guest artesian for service learning studios in Turkey and Africa.

Karl’s artistic practice is founded on an interest in labor and skill, reflecting many years of personal experience building objects and environments for both artistic and utilitarian purposes. His work has been exhibited nationally, including recent exhibitions at the Disjecta Interdisciplinary Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon, and the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His critical writing has been published in Ceramic Monthly, and he has received several awards of recognition as well as institutional funding, including a 2012 individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission, a finalist for the 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards at the Portland Art Museum. Burkheimer’s work was exhibited at MoCC in Call + Response.


Posted on 10/11 at 05:17 PM

Design Week Portland at the Museum

This week, Design Week Portland explores the process, craft, and practice of design across disciplines with 80+ independent events and over 100 open houses. Museum of Contemporary Craft hosts and/or sponsors various events all week, while Director and Chief Curator Namita Wiggers participates in a number of programs.

Design Week Portland Open House
Museum of Contemporary Craft, Wednesday October 9, 4-7pm
The Museum will be free and open to the public as part of the DWP Northwest Open House events.
More info…

Future of DIY + Interaction Design
The Lab at MoCC, Friday October 11, 11am – 4pm
Free, Registration Required

Arduino expert Kevin Hoyt on how to use sensors, lights, motors, and controllers to build innovative Internet of Things projects.
More info…

John Economaki on Creative Entrepreneurship
The Lab at MoCC, Saturday October 12, 3 – 4:30pm
Free, Registration Required

Furniture maker turned woodworking tool designer John Economaki and guests discuss entrepreneurship in Portland. Moderated by Namita Gupta Wiggers.
More info…

The Storefront Residency with Jason Sturgill
The Gallery Store, Museum of Contemporary Craft, October 1-19
More info…

Museum of Contemporary Craft Director and Chief Curator, Namita Gupta Wiggers participates in this publication and reading at Ampersand Books.

Share Document
Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books, 2916 NE Alberta St, October 8, 7:30pm
A reading featuring Portland writers who contribute to the discussion about design, and a printed book to capture the evening’s pieces. Readers: Carl Alviani, Jen Delos Reyes, Gary Robbins, Eric Trine MFA AC+D ’13, Namita Gupta Wiggers
More info…

Additionally, a number of Design Week Portland events will be held at our partner institution, PNCA:

Jay Harman // Biomimicry: The Next Big Thing. Nature Inspiring Radical Innovation
Swigert Commons at PNCA, October 7 6:30pm reception / 7:00pm lecture
More info…

PNCA Design & Illustration Open House
C4D, Wednesday October 9, 4-7pm
More info…

Designing Women Panel Discussion and Pecha Kucha
Swigert Commons at PNCA, Thursday, October 10, 6:30pm
More info…

Ladies’ Happy Hour
Swigert Commons Mezzanine at PNCA, Thursday, October 10, 4:00pm
More info…

Designing Women Panel Discussion and Pecha Kucha
PNCA Swigert Commons, Thursday October 10, 6:30 – 8:30pm,
Free, Registration Required

Panelists include: Julie Beeler, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Sara Huston, and Carrie Strickland; moderated by Namita Gupta Wiggers.
More info…

Make It Happen: Randy Hunt on Design, Entrepreneurship, and Etsy
Bison Building, MFA in Applied Craft + Design Studio, 421 NE 10th Ave, Tuesday, October 8, 7:30pm
More info…

And PNCA faculty member, Stephen Slappe hosts an evening of vintage 16mm films on design at the Hollywood Theater.

Dial D for Design
Hollywood Theater, October 9 at 7pm I $10
Stephen Slappe, Professor of Video & Sound at PNCA, presents a crop of 16mm film gems exploring the world of design and advertising in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
More info…

Posted on 10/07 at 02:27 PM

MoCC’s Restless Spirit

Photo by Matthew Miller ’11.

“Portland has a long craft tradition — the production of handmade pots and bowls, jewelry and glass, finely turned wood objects and hand-woven fiber art — and one of its centers since 1937 has been the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC). That makes the MoCC the oldest continuously running craft institution in the country. But from the beginning, when it was known as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, its spirit was restless, searching out craft artists who were exploring the edges of their fields, changing our ideas about what is possible with clay or fiber or glass, and blurring the line between craft and art in the process.”

Read more of a recent Travel Portland article on Museum of Contemporary Craft here.

And remember, a new exhibition, The Tool at Hand, opens October 3! Swing on by – admission is always free on First Thursdays!

Posted on 09/30 at 03:27 PM

Wiggers on Herrick for Modern Magazine

Recently, Director and Chief Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers was invited by Modern Magazine to write about an object for their “Curator’s Eye” section. The magazine invited “curators of leading twentieth-century and contemporary design collections to discuss one object that they feel is particularly noteworthy. Wiggers wrote about Laurie Herrick’s beautiful weaving, Crater (1969). She wrote that the weaving was, “based on Herrick’s personal response to Crater Lake, Oregon,” and that it, “employs a wide range of weaving techniques in her preferred palette of natural fibers in light, bright, and dark tonalities.” See a PDF of the piece here.

Posted on 09/30 at 03:10 PM

Tool at Hand Challenge…Extended to Friday!


OPEN TO: Currently enrolled students at Pacific Northwest College of Art, (PNCA), and Oregon College of Art and Craft, (OCAC)

ENTRY DEADLINE: Friday, October 4, 2013, by 5:00pm PST


What would it be like to create a work of art using only one tool?

The Tool at Hand is coming to the Museum of Contemporary Craft this October! Apart from having the chance to experience this internationally lauded exhibition, the stars have aligned to offer you—PNCA or OCAC students—the rarified opportunity to participate in this unique project.

In the spring of 2011, the Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee Art Museum, and curator Ethan Lasser invited fourteen contemporary artists from the United States and the United Kingdom to break from their usual practices and make a work of art using only one tool. For a group of artists who are accustomed to working with extensive tool kits that include dental drills and 3D printers, this commission presented a thought-provoking challenge. The Tool at Hand presents these finished works and the tools used to craft them together with short videos produced by each artist.

In conjunction with The Tool at Hand, Museum of Contemporary Craft invites students of PNCA and OCAC to apply for The Tool at Hand PDX Challenge, which tests your skills and creativity by asking you to create work of art made using only one tool. Winners of MoCC’s juried challenge will receive a stipend of $25 from Blick Art Materials to create that special work of art, which will be displayed in MoCC’s Community Showcase Gallery and Lab in conjunction with the final weeks that The Tool at Hand will be on view, December 3, 2013–January 11,2014.

Choose your tool wisely and let the making commence!


- Before submitting your proposal, be sure to peruse The Tool at Hand website and the MoCC exhibition page to read much more about the project and to see some of the works produced. Applicants must fully understand the parameters of the challenge in order to submit a successful proposal.

- The Tool at Hand PDX Challenge is open to currently enrolled students at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC).

- Applicants may submit one project proposal only.

- Collectives as well as individual artists are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in collective projects that highlight the collaborative nature of creative production.

- Makers must adhere to the stipulation that only one tool can be used to produce an artwork.

- All materials used in The Tool at Hand PDX Challenge must be approved by MoCC staff in advance. Museum of Contemporary Craft retains the right to request or refuse any materials prohibited in the Museum including: living materials, decaying materials, organic materials that have not been sterilized, materials that are off-gassing, materials that disrupt the Museum in any way with sound, smell, or light.

- The content of artworks must appropriate and inclusive to diverse audiences. Museum of Contemporary Craft retains the right of final decision regarding the work to be shown, how it will be displayed and will approve construction prior to execution.

- Makers are responsible for the on-time delivery and pick up of artwork.

- Unless otherwise restricted, all artwork may be photographed and reproduced for educational purposes connected with Museum of Contemporary Craft.

- Projects should reflect the MoCC’s goal of being a center of dialogue and inquiry in pushing boundaries of what defines craft and how we think of it, engaging with idea and object in equal rigor.


Entry Deadline: Monday September 30, 2013, by 5pm PST

Notification of Jury Decision: October 7, 2013

Work Must be Delivered Ready for Installation to MoCC by: The week of November 18, 2013. Artwork should be accompanied by any installation instructions, your project statement, and catalog information, (title, tool used, date, media, dimensions).

Exhibition Dates: Tuesday December 3, 2013 – January 11, 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday December 5, 2013

Work Must be Retrieved from MoCC by: The week of January 13, 2014

Jury: Brian Hutsebout, Sculptor + Designer / MFA Applied Craft + Design; Sarah Margolis-Pineo, Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft

Compensation: $25 for materials from Blick

Consignment in Gallery Store: Artworks may be sold through the MoCC Gallery Store for a 50% consignment. This is optional and will be negotiated in a separate contract through the Gallery Store.


Direct applications by email to Brian Hutsebout ( by Monday September 30, 5pm PST. Be sure to include:

1. Name, contact Information, and website

2. A current CV

3. A written description of your proposed Tool at Hand PDX Challenge project, (250-500 words), articulating what tool you would use, what media you would engage, and what the final product would be. Up to ten concept images/renderings will be eagerly accepted.

4. Three digital work samples with attached catalog information, (title, date, media, dimensions), and project descriptions that illustrate of your previous art practice.


Brian Hutsebout, Sculptor + Designer / MFA Applied Craft + Design

Sarah Margolis-Pineo, Associate Curator

Posted on 09/26 at 04:06 PM

An Interview with Nicole Nathan

“Quality is contagious. Nothing is more important to a woodworker than his tools. If you owned a tool chest full of well-crafted tools, how could you possibly justify doing shabby work? You dishonor your tools. You dishonor yourself.” —John Economaki

Museum of Contemporary Craft Curator of Collections and Registrar Nicole Nathan curated Quality is Contagious: John Economaki and Bridge City Tool Works in collaboration with fine-furniture-maker turned-entrepreneur-and-tool-maker John Economaki. Her challenge was to convey the interconnectedness of Economaki’s approach to work and life by exhibiting his furniture, tools, sketches, prototypes, and videos side by side. There is no separation between craft, design, and art for Economaki. All intersect and overlap — and all are crucial to his practice. Editorial intern Daniel Casto spoke with Nathan about how she approaches crafting an exhibition of this breadth of material and theme, and what makes the role of a curator both challenging and thrilling.

Nicole Nathan shows visitors through the “Quality is Contagious” exhibition. Photo by Matthew Miller ’11.

UNTITLED Magazine: Hi Nicole. So you’re the Curator of Collections and Registrar here at Contemporary Craft. Can you tell us a little bit about that means exactly?

Nicole Nathan: I oversee our physical object collection here at the museum—I monitor when things are going in and out of the collection, when they are being lent to other institutions, when they’re coming back, when we need to pull things from our collection for display. I also curate exhibitions based on people and pieces within the collection, or that have some sort of historical context that relates to it.

UNTITLED Magazine: Did Quality is Contagious come about because of a piece that we had in our collection?

Nicole Nathan: John has a piece, the [Vaughan Street] Dessert Trolley, that has been in our collection since the mid-80s. It was included in our book, Unpacking the Collection, it was featured in Craft in America in 2007, so that’s kind of the centerpiece around which this exhibition is — well, not necessarily based, but we wanted to tell his story, and having that piece gave us the means to do that. The exhibition is about John as a maker, as an artist, a designer, businessman — [as] a person who continues to make; but in different ways. He started out as a furniture-maker in the mid ‘70s, made some really amazing pieces which are part of the exhibition, and was hugely successful. He had a piece in the Smithsonian, he had all sorts of commissions, and then woke up one night unable to breathe because he had developed an allergy to wood dust.

… Continue reading on UNTITLED.

Posted on 09/09 at 01:49 PM

PODCAST: A Conversation with Surabhi Ghosh, MoCC Artist-in-Residence

Part open studio, part residency, part master class, Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC) has invited consummate makers of all types to temporarily relocate their studios to the Lab for week-long terms, July 8 through August 4. Resident artists will work from the Lab during daily open hours, 11am-6pm, connecting directly with the Museum’s audiences as they engage in their creative practice. In addition, artists will offer daily two-hour, drop-in workshops for visitors of all ages to have access the materials, processes, and concepts of various crafts. The intent of the Open Studio summer residency is to provide a public venue for the work that often happens behind the scenes in the artist studio. We believe that this residency provides a wonderful opportunity to share publicly all the starts, stops, challenges, and inspirations that happen as work is created. Furthermore, we hope to provide a space for direct and open dialogue between creative practitioners and the community around craft-based ideas, practices, and processes.

MoCC Open Studio Artist-in-Residence: Surabhi Ghosh

Volunteer project manager Greg Stuart discusses the studio practice of Surabhi Ghosh, Open Studio Artist-in-Residence, July 30 – August 3, 2013

For this residency, Surabhi Ghosh created a large-scale pieced fabric composition that expands on her series Striations, an ongoing project that is inspired in part by the Gee’s Bend quilts. For this iteration, Ghosh will investigate a new “function” by transforming the gallery into an abstract landscape—a maze, a map, an active location. To contribute to this endeavor, museum visitors are invited to bring old clothes, (especially pants, trousers, and jeans), and donate their time, skills, and conversation to the creation of this work. Similar to most fiber-based processes, the Striations pieces are the result of an accumulation of media, whereby many small parts come together to make a whole over time. By the end of the week, this piece will become a document—a record of time—of group interaction.

Ghosh’s work draws on the liminal power of the decorative. Disregarded visual information that permeates cultural spaces, the decorative hides in plain sight. Repositioning ubiquitous and universal motifs—circles, dots, hexagons, and stripes—she builds intricate compositions using simple repetitive marks, creating pieces that reside at the intersection of abstraction, minimalism, and ornamentation. She is an Associate Professor of Fibers at the University of Oregon and holds degrees from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the University of Georgia, Athens.


Posted on 08/27 at 10:09 AM

Soundforge and Music On The Street

“…when music is involved, more often than not, the atmosphere changes and all of a sudden art comes alive and exploration is encouraged.”

Associate Curator, Sarah Margolis-Pineo, talks to Matthew Bernstein from Music on the Street, a regular series of Oregon Music News.

From the article:

What is the purpose from the artists’ perspective? How did it all come about?

With Soundforge comprised of video, audio, and sculptural elements and rooted in the idea that forging metal is an act of music making, Craig and Remson have interpreted craft not only as finished objects—the steel structures and video—but also as the “crafting” of a musical score. The intent of the installation is to create an interactive platform for visitors to engage in conversations relating to music making and craft, and how the two spheres of creative practice interact.

What would they like viewers to take away? Is there a specific message?

That museum-going can be a lively and interactive experience where visitors not only engage but, in fact, contribute to the work. Our other exhibition currently on view, Object Focus: The Bowl, was conceived in much of the same spirit. MoCC intends to be a different kind of museum, presenting shows that enliven and expand the understanding of craft and cultivating a space for experimentation, creativity and connection.

You can read the full interview here.

Posted on 08/26 at 11:58 AM

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