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November 4th, 2008
Museum Celebrates Diversity of Craft Collection in New Exhibition

In celebration of the 32nd-annual Craft Show organized by the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Museum will present Cultural Convergence: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Craft — an exhibition that reveals the breadth and depth of the Museum’s craft holdings. Cultural Convergence (on view November 1, 2008 - March 2009) presents 34 works added to the collection since the year 2000, most of which are on view for the first time. Ranging from glass and metal to fiber, clay and wood, these works were created in Japan, Australia, Kenya, Colombia and other countries, illustrating the ways in which the art of contemporary craft is interpreted across the globe.

“To assemble this exhibition, I spoke with my colleagues in several departments to inquire about any recent contemporary craft acquisitions that they wanted to place on view,” said Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts. “I want our visitors to enjoy this selection of our most recent gifts and purchases of contemporary craft — drawn not only from our country but globally —most of which are making their debut in the Museum galleries.”

The exhibition highlights the variety of forms that craft takes around the world. For Korean artist Yoon Kwang-cho, a personal interest in Buddhism resulted in Heart Sutra (2001) — a tribute to the time-honored practice of copying the Buddhist text known by the same name. For this work, Kwang-cho transcribed the complete sutra onto the surface of a 31-inch-tall vessel, using a nail to incise each character into the semidried clay. American artist George Johnson — a “Best in Show” winner at the 2006 Craft Show — took a more whimsical approach to clay with Rooster “Six-Pack” (1992), which features a carton normally reserved for beer that instead holds petite stoneware roosters. Once turned over, these roosters double as drinking vessels and — in the tradition of 18th-century European drinking game cups — liquids must be imbibed immediately since the roosters’ pointed crowns make it impossible to put down mid-drink.

The works on view entered the Museum in equally diverse ways, from generous gifts and bequests to purchases. Matthew Eskuche’s Jetson’s Apartment Bottles (2006) were purchased specifically with funds raised from the Museum’s annual Craft Show. And when Bruce and Marina Kaiser of Wilmington, Delaware, purchased Unfolding Lilies (1990) from local artist William Hunter, he expressed his interest that the Museum serve as the work’s final resting place. The Kaisers obliged, giving the Museum Hunter’s turned vessel in 2007.

About the Museum’s American Contemporary Craft Collection

The Museum’s craft collection is one of the oldest in the country, featuring nearly 600 craft objects in a variety of mediums including clay, glass, fiber, wood and metal. The collection features some of the earliest works in the American craft field, along with a wide sampling of objects by well-known masters associated with the Philadelphia region, including Rudolph Staffel, Olaf Skoogfors, George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick.

About the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is presented annually by The Women’s Committee and Craft Show Committee for the benefit of the Museum. Funds raised are used to purchase works of art for the Museum’s collection, to fund conservation and publication projects, and to support exhibitions and educational programs. Proceeds have also endowed curatorships and helped make possible special undertakings, such as the reinstallation of the Museum’s European collections.

This premier show and sale of contemporary craft includes nearly 200 of the finest and most dynamic craft artists in the United States and abroad, selected from over 1,500 applicants. Twenty-three leading Israeli craft artists will showcase their work at this year’s Craft Show, which will take place November 13-16 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. For more information, contact 215-684-7930, or e-mail

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We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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