Smithsonian Craft Show to Offer Work from 100+ American Artists, Entirely Online

James Ardis
Published on
Gilded Roly Magritte's Vessel by Jennifer McCurdy. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Gilded Roly Magritte’s Vessel by Jennifer McCurdy. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.

The annual Smithsonian Craft Show, presented by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, honors craft and design made by contemporary American artists. Proceeds benefit the artists and also finance grants to the Smithsonian’s many museums, research centers, and the National Zoo. Since 1983, the show has been a key part of the Smithsonian Women’s Committee’s yearly fundraising efforts.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Smithsonian Craft Show will be held entirely online using the Bidsquare platform. The collaboration with Bidsquare will allow the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to host buy-now events for over 100 American artists across all craft disciplines from October 10th, 2020 until October 25th. The committee will also hold a live auction on October 21st with 30+ pieces of American craft.

Chimera Cold-Worked Glass by Pavel Novak. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Chimera Cold-Worked Glass by Pavel Novak. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.

Among the featured artists in this year’s show is Pavel Novak, whose glassworks will be available in the live auction, as well as in his own buy-now event. Novak’s work is influenced by the glassmakers of the Czech Republic, where he was raised. Each piece is an exploration of geometry and symmetry. This includes a cold-worked cube available in the live auction (estimate: USD 16,000 – $23,000). The style used to produce this cube, called “cold-working,” involves taking a piece of raw glass and grating it with silicon carbide. Novak later adds color that emphasizes each work’s sharp, geometric look.

Recycled Newspaper Comic Strip Bracelet by Holly Anne Mitchell. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Recycled Newspaper Comic Strip Bracelet by Holly Anne Mitchell. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.

“For 30 years, I’ve had an endless fascination with newspaper,” admits artist Holly Anne Mitchell. “I love to push the boundaries of it’s  [sic] text, color and content.” Mitchell uses the colors and typography of different parts of the average newspaper in her work, from crossword puzzles to comic strips to stock listings.

Over 90 of these pieces will be available in Mitchell’s buy-now event later this month, including a bracelet made of newspaper comics (price: $499). Japanese glass beads and sterling silver beads freckle the faces of Hobbes, Sally Brown, and other recognizable characters. “Why do I believe him?” laments Sally Brown in one of the bracelet’s panels, presumably angry at Linus or her brother, Charlie.

Lotus Nest by Jennifer McCurdy. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Lotus Nest by Jennifer McCurdy. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Craft Show.

Jennifer McCurdy’s porcelain works experiment with form and technique. The artist believes that her pursuit of these technical achievements will naturally evoke feelings from the viewer. She quotes Nobel Prize-winning author André Gide: “Pay attention only to the form; emotion will come spontaneously to inhabit it. A perfect dwelling always finds an inhabitant.”

Available from McCurdy in the live auction is a sculpted lotus nest made of white porcelain (estimate: USD 3,500 – $7,500). McCurdy uses white porcelain to maximize the contrast between the piece and its shadow. Like many of her other works, this lotus nest was sculpted in multiple stages, from carving to smaller alterations by hand.

Events like the Smithsonian Craft Show allow the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to provide grants to a wide range of initiatives. For example, the committee has previously given $16,000 towards the restoration of a Stegosaurus skeleton at the National Museum of Natural History, $14,000 to build a research center in Kenya, and $17,186 to add braille throughout the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, among many other projects.

The live-streamed Smithsonian Craft Benefit Auction will begin on October 21st, 2020, at 8:00 PM EDT. Those interested can register to bid on Bidsquare. Meanwhile, buy-now sales for individual American craft artists will open on October 10th at 9:00 AM EDT and close at 11:55 PM EDT on October 25th. Collectors can discover each of the artists and their available works on Bidsquare.