By Nicole Hennessy
Art galleries can be sterile places lacking life, even when functional art is on display. In contrast, a well-designed home allows the imagination to wander in a comfortable setting.
Gina DeSantis, a Screw Factory artist specializing in pottery, says she never enjoyed seeing her work on a stark white pedestal against the same backdrop of a wall.
“The objects,” she explains, “were never at home because they belonged in the home.”
So she decided to bring the home into the gallery, seeking out fellow craftspeople and designers, creating a show called “STOCK.”
In searching for pieces that would complement her own, she said, “I asked fine artists to use their art and apply it to design and craft in the form of place mats, rugs and wallpaper.
“Fiber artists were incorporated to show how their sculptural pieces have a place in both the gallery and home,” she added.
These objects not only function to satisfy a need for beauty, but they beg to be used.
DeSantis, who opened a second studio in March in which she’ll expand her adult workshops to include children, believes that she and the artists participating in STOCK have demonstrated that the line between art and craft can be extremely thin, almost nonexistent.
“The value of a porcelain plate does not change when removed from a pedestal and placed on a dining table. There is a relationship between the table and plate and ultimately with the people who use these objects,” she said. “A wall of cups can become a painting.”
STOCK’s opening will take place on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. at HEDGE Gallery, located in Cleveland’s 78th Street Studios.
Including DeSantis, 10 artists will take part, contributing everything from furniture to wallpaper.
“This collection of works placed in a fine-art setting attempts to implicate a new value for craft objects (versus) the mainstream connotation of felted owls or wooden moustaches on a stick,” the press release reads.
Historically, functional art and artisanal wares give insight into cultures and how people live their lives. STOCK not only explores this idea, it also explores that of context and setting and the fact that functional art can also be visual, or “fine,” art.
“I have a set of dinnerware placed on a table in a gallery,” DeSantis said, asking, “How would that change if this were a museum?
“How would it change if it was at a furniture store? It suddenly becomes product, or stock. The same place settings, the same table, all take on a new meaning because of their environment. However, a painting is still a painting whether over a sofa or in a museum. Why does the meaning of craft change, but fine art stays the same?”
She hopes to answer some of these questions or at least get others to ask them.
The exhibition will run through June 15. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily or by appointment.