After undergoing a major two-year renovation, the Renwick Gallery is officially re-opening to the public as of today, November 13th, 2015. The Renwick is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art. Not only does it have a stellar permanent decorative arts collection (which will be available in seven months with updated acquisitions), but it has opened a new contemporary exhibition entitled WONDER. As a way to engage visitors and patrons with its new space, Renwick collaboratively adapted the work of nine contemporary, large-scale artists to the interior of the museum.
All of the artists are unified by their interest in taking materials that seem rather mundane and using them in multitude to create small worlds within which we are invited to voyage. The number of items the artists use in succession and repetition create unity, volume, and structure, from the undulating to the spiraling to the prismatic. Pictured in the photo below is an installation comprised of items such as toothpicks, straws, Styrofoam cups, scotch tape, and index cards. The sum of these parts creates a tumultuous landscape, towering and craggy.
Tara Donovan, Untitled, 2014, © Tara Donovan, courtesy of Pace Gallery
Photo: Krista Alba
The materials used are diversely represented. The artists make sculptural masterpieces from marbles, LED lights, thread, and even insects. Here are a few photos taken at yesterday’s Smithsonian Staff Open House at the Renwick.
Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1, 2015
Photos: Krista Alba
Patrick Dougherty, Shindig, 2015, Photo by Ron Blunt
Photos: Krista Alba
True to the mission of the exhibition, WONDER made me lost in a good way. I became busy circling and getting personal with the habitats. The vestibules of space, both positive and negative, create niches for individual exploration and places for the body to naturally gravitate. I have a plethora of photos, but instead of posting them all and spoiling the magic, I encourage you to travel to the Renwick Gallery in person and allow yourself to be encompassed by material that becomes transcendent. If you are not in the vicinity or if you're unable to visit in person, there is a gorgeous online gallery that you may survey.