For many of us, eating is more than sustenance. And the table setting, the tools used, and even the kitchen utensils have a long history as places where art meets craft. If you’ve ever been drawn to the shape of a balloon whisk or picked out cutlery for a wedding gift, then you have engaged in the discourse yourself.
That is the subject for “Dining and Discourse: A Discussion in Three Courses,” an exhibition that looks critically at the intrinsic relationship between craft and dining on view through May 10 at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. The exhibition features 26 emerging and mid-career artists working in wood, glass, ceramics, fiber, metal, and mixed media. Curated by HCCC Curatorial Fellow Kathryn Hall, the show challenges contemporary notions of functionality, status, and aesthetics.
“It is set up like a progressing dining experience,” says Hall. “In these three courses, we explore how craft can create interaction, and the role that craft and design plays in the social experience.”
The first, “Role Play,” is an appetizer that focuses on social interaction, breaking up the traditional seating arrangement to promote conversation. “Hunter Gatherer,” the main course, brings the ideas of food and the hunt into the dining room. Animal motifs, and even animal bones used as artist’s materials, are part of this vignette. And the final course, “Opulence and Excess,” is a dessert course on the interplay of color, embellishment, and the establishment of status through the elements brought to the table.
“I really wanted to go beyond the typical place settings,” Hall explains. “It pushes the boundaries of what we think the dining experience is. In addition, there is a wide range of artists represented, from emerging artists to the more established.”