New Exhibitions at the Fabric Workshop and Museum: Museum As… and Shopworks
Gabriel Martinez, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Dominion over Gentility, 1998. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.
Museum As… serves as the third and final installment in a trilogy of exhibitions that began in September 2020, all designed to interrogate The Fabric Workshop and Museum’s name. While the first two exhibitions in the series—Fabric As… and Workshop As…—explored how material and process have shaped the outcome of past residencies, Museum As… focuses on FWM’s role as a museum, a word that wasn’t added to the institution’s name until 1996, nearly 20 years after its founding. The works on view—including Tommy Joseph’s wearable men’s suit made with Tlingit totemic motifs and Carrie Mae Weems’ Adam and Eve-inspired embroidered folding screen—demonstrate FWM’s distinct approach, one based on cultivating situations for artistic collaboration and experimentation while also collecting and preserving contemporary art for future generations.
This exhibition features work by six of over 125 Artists-in-Residence with whom FWM have collaborated since its founding. These collaborations typify and manifest FWM’s deep and experimental relationships with artists. As seen in the exhibition, Sam Gilliam collaborated with the museum during his 1977 residency—FWM’s founding year—to incorporate silkscreens into his artistic process of playing with color, materials and surface. That same year, Jody Pinto, known for sculptural landscape interventions, expanded her practice with the use of printed cloth with Hair Shirt. Displayed on a hanger like a garment ready to be worn, the work was created with pigment on pig skin to depict a fleshy human torso with black body hair emanating from its sides and chest. It is displayed in this exhibition alongside two large drawings by Pinto that map out early plans for its production. Other collaborations include two literary-inspired works by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (first in residence in 1989), and a display of two encased gentleman’s suits alongside a related photographic work by Gabriel Martinez (in residence in 1998).
FWM’s pursuit of unexpected conversations about ideas, materials, and the artistic process has resulted in a rethinking of what museums can be. As evidenced in its residency and programming history, museums can also be sites, ateliers and record-keepers of collaboration. Museum As… draws from FWM’s ever-growing collection, which consists of over 4,000 objects, including finished works and materials that document their production as well as the results.
Installation view of Shopworks, 2023. From left to right: Jonathan Lyndon Chase, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Bending $ag Boxers and artist box materials, 2021; Ecke Bonk, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Chess Jacket (Checkett) and plexiglass chess pieces, 1987–1991. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.
Shopworks celebrates FWM’s history of collaborations that have resulted in the production and release of artist multiples. On view (and for sale) are limited edition artworks and objects that suggest a wide range of function, material playfulness, and potential for personal engagement that artists have brought to this program over the decades.
Among the conceptual objects on display, many invite interaction: Ecke Bond’s Chess Jacket (Checkett) (1987–1991) can be worn or draped over a surface to support gameplay with chess pieces that include a knight based on a model by Marcel Duchamp; Kiki Smith’s reversible doll based on the poem Owl and Pussycat can be transformed by flipping its skirt; Lenka Clayton’s 2017 Braille translation describing Constantin Brancusi’s Sculpture for the Blind can be read with physical touch; and Rose B. Simpson’s letterpress-printed Guidance Cards (2022) come with instructions for contemplation and interpretation of the artist’s hand-drawn iconography.
Other artist editions suggest a more straightforward function. Mary Heilmann’s Serape (Square Lamp) (1995) and a japanese paper lamp by Joan Jonas (2014) are intended to illuminate. While some editions, like Louise Bourgeois’ poem dyed on china silk (1992) and William Wegman’s playful puppies in the form of a c-print (2002) are displayed as traditional artworks, other works, like Jonathan Lyndon Chase’s Bending $ag Boxers (2021), Sarah Sze’s silk habotai scarves featuring sublime imagery (2013), and Richard Tuttle’s hand-sewn summer kimono (2015), suggest art that was built for the body.
FWM has been able to support these commercial projects by working deeply with artists to translate their ideas into meaningful editions that are more imaginative than typical museum shop inventory. During these collaborations, FWM fully supports the development and production of these editions, and the resulting inventory is shared between the artists and the Museum Shop. The editions allocated to FWM are made available for purchase in-store and online to help raise essential funds and support future FWM projects. In 2020, with the generous support of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, FWM formalized this program as Shopworks.
About The Fabric Workshop and Museum
The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum devoted to the creation, presentation, and preservation of innovative works of art. Its mission—Collaborating with artists, revealing new possibilities—embodies a 45-year commitment to helping artists experiment with the expressive possibilities of a broad spectrum of new materials and techniques. Through its renowned Artist-in-Residence Program, FWM provides artists at all stages of their careers with the opportunity to collaborate with its studio staff and take their work in fresh and often unexpected directions. FWM presents large-scale exhibitions, installations, and performative work, utilizing innovative fiber and other media including sculpture, installation, video, painting, photography, ceramics, and architecture. Founded in 1977, FWM brings this spirit of creative investigation and discovery to an eager audience, broadening access to art and advancing its role as a catalyst for innovation and social connection.
Blue Medium, Inc.
Tel: 215-561-8888 x224