Spring roundup: Can't miss craft exhibitions at Philly museums and galleries

photo: Lin Xu, Chance at The Clay Studio

Philadelphia’s noted museums and galleries showcase craft this spring, inspiring everything from collaborations in clay to artistic responses to a single poplar tree.

[DESIGN] Practical, functional and simply beautiful, the wildly popular design sensibility of the Nordic countries has helped define the look of the modern world. Opening May 23, the Philadelphia Museum of Art surveys Scandinavian design from its triumphant showing at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris to the present day in Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design.

[WOODWORKING] The Center for Art in Wood explores new directions this spring, collaborating with 19 young Philadelphia-based artists who work in drawing, sculpture, printmaking, video, and photography – everything, in fact, except wood – to create responses to the Center’s Permanent Collection in Other Selections: Local Artists Respond to the Museum Collection (May 1 – July 18). With this exhibition and other initiatives, the Center seeks to make their outstanding collection an engine for contemporary creative activity.

A single tulip poplar tree is the inspiration for the work of more than 40 contemporary woodworkers at Historic Yellow Springs, presented by the Wharton Esherick Museum, May 21 – June 10. In Poplar Culture: the Celebration of a Tree, the tree that stood outside Esherick’s studio door is honored by work from celebrated artists that range from furniture to woodblock prints and sculpture. Artwork will be available for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Wharton Esherick Museum and Historic Yellow Springs.

[CERAMICS] The Clay Studio celebrates the 10th anniversary of Small Favors (April 3 – 26), an exhibition that challenges artists to work in a different scale: within a 4-inch acrylic cube that provides a limitation that must be rigorously adhered to or creatively worked around. Works by a range of notable ceramic artists are also on display: Richard Nickel and Matthew Causey (April 24 – May 31), Ruan Hoffman (April 24 – May 31) and Adam Field (May 1 – 31).

Snyderman-Works Galleries present A Collaboration in Clay: Pam Lethbridge and Scott Rosenthal (April 3 – 25), joint works that combine the interests of these two artists and friends: Rosenthal hand-building a series of ceramic structures and Lethbridge integrating the forms with her own figurative elements. In Wearable Objet d’Art (April 3-25), Katheen Dustin, a world-class designer and scholar in the history and use of polymers in contemporary design, and a 2014 PMA Craft Show exhibitor, has created a stunning collection exploring questions posed by the natural world of daily life and the material culture of women. And don’t miss 50 Years of Works (May 1 – June 30), a celebration of the gallery’s 50th anniversary.

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