At the entrance to the Chicago Institute of Art there’s a curious found installation. Some rather dangerous wires are growing like roots from the ceiling. And alongside a clump of weeds are emerging from the ground around a wood panel. This is a temporary structure associated with building works, but the coordinated growth from above and below nicely counters the construction around it.
I’m in Chicago for a series associated with the publication The Object of Labor: Art, Cloth, and Cultural Production which is edited by Joan Livingston and John Ploof from the Fibre Department. It’s a substantial publication that explores the link between the industrial and artistic worlds from many different perspectives. During my stay, there’s been much fiery discussion about the relevance of relational art to craft and the emerging genre of ‘world craft’.
I’m pleased to say that there seems be have been a resurgence of interest in the material arts, with growth of demand for courses in ceramics and weaving. Students seem to come from around the states to the Institute partly because its a hub of activity and also because Chicago is seen as a city that is open to newcomers (as opposed to New York).