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best if used by

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft        |        September 2, 2016 - January 15, 2017        |        Photography by Scott Cartwright, Sarah Darro

BEST IF USED BY investigates the dynamic intersection of craft and food in contemporary culture. Featuring six U.S. and international artists, Celia Butler, Kazuki Guzmán, Joshua Kosker, Aurélie Mathigot, Yuka Otani, and Rachel Shimpock, this show probes definitions of craft by staging critical comparisons among works that are moving at varying rates of consumption and deterioration. The works range in material from wool, ceramic, and electroformed metal to cast sugar, cured tangelo peels, and needle-worked bananas.

The fields of craft and artisanal food are simultaneously experiencing revitalization amid a renewed embrace of handmade culture. The term craft is often invoked in culinary and consumer contexts to denote quality and handmade production. The works in BEST IF USED BY investigate the entanglement of these worlds. Viewers are invited to examine the intersecting and diverging qualities of the displayed pieces, all of which possess a complex embodiment of tradition, specialized knowledge and process. Consumption is the overarching theme for the inquiries posed by this exhibition. Associated with the food industry, transience, and cultural value, this concept acts as a launching point for discourse about the interconnected nature of food and craft. Exhibiting works that exist on a spectrum of temporality, BEST IF USED BY allows for an exploration of the significance of the ephemeral in a field largely rooted in tangibility.

Curator, Sarah Darro, in collaboration with artist Madison Creech, produced a limited edition catalog for BEST IF USED BY that was screen-printed with condiments including barbecue sauce, mustard, coffee, and balsamic glaze. The piece functioned as documentation of the exhibition and included essays by curators and artists, as well as materially aligned with the conceptual framework of the show.