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pocket museum

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft             |            January 20 - March 18, 2017            |           Photography by Scott Cartwright

Pocket Museum spotlights the contemporary craft miniature. Featuring five artists working in ceramic, fiber, glass, metal, and wood–Jon Almeda, Althea Crome, Sean Donlon, Nash Quinn, and Marco Terenzi–the exhibition explores the relevance of small-scale objects in contemporary material culture and the renewed fascination with this timeless form.

The works on view enchant viewers through the wonderment of their construction. Jon Almeda’s ceramic vessels are thrown on a two-inch mechanized wheel. Althea Crome’s tiny gloves are knitted with silk thread and wire needles that are so thin, they can accommodate more than 80 stitches per inch.  Sean Donlon creates functioning, miniature blown-glass teapots, while Nash Quinn and Marco Terenzi produce metal micro-guns and tiny, scaled woodworking tools, respectively. All of these objects serve as studies that beckon a closer understanding of process.

Within popular culture, there is a renewed interest in the miniature. Beyond dedicated maker groups, Instagram accounts like The Daily Miniature (@dailymini) have garnered over 91,000 followers. In his account, Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, recently posted:  “THE MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE IS A POCKET MUSEUM.”  Scale takes on new significance in a virtual world, in which one can discover and examine objects at the touch of a finger, as well as curate digital spaces.

Historically, the drive behind making material microcosms and the scaled objects that compose them has been to achieve a different bodily perspective, a voyeuristic, all-seeing eye.  However, the contemporary miniatures featured in this show move away from a history of model making, dollhouses, and Utopian world-building and towards objects that push their material and traditional processes to newfound levels of ambition and technical skill. By displaying miniatures in a physical gallery setting, removed from either virtual online galleries or their historical encasement in dioramas or models, Pocket Museum offers a fresh perspective on these fascinating works.