James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History alumnus matt lambert and Associate Professor Lauren Kalman, Curatorial Fellows at the Center for Craft open the exhibition Desire Paths

Opening February 5 in the Center for Craft’s Bresler Family Gallery, Desire Paths examines the paths we take when provided routes either fail or are otherwise inaccessible or inconvenient, leaving us to envision and create our own ways through the world. Desire Paths is the final exhibition in the Center for Craft’s most recent Curatorial Fellowship series curated by Lauren Kalman and matt lambert (BFA '12). 

Kalman and lambert, both educators and artists themselves, have invited nine artists and arts organizations working in multiple mediums. These exhibitors engage with themes of how we move towards what we desire through works that explore identity, the body, and the boundaries that fix and free us.  

"The Center for Craft is thrilled to support Kalman and lambert in this explorative and forward-thinking exhibition concept,” says Stephanie Moore, executive director. “The Curatorial Fellowship program allows emerging curators both space and a voice to bring added value to the field of craft as we move toward the future." 

The exhibition features objects from a broad spectrum of craft, including textile works, jewelry, and ceramic pieces, and videos – some documenting processes of making, and some that are end products in themselves – tying together performance and craft through bodies, the spaces they move through, and the transformation that results from that movement.  

Kalman and lambert also approach the theme through queer curatorial strategies. “Craft is something that runs parallel or tangential to fine or high arts,” Kalman notes. “It has charted its own paths, deviating from and operating in tandem to this other system.” 

The idea of flânerie, the concept of wandering to discover new connections and new associations, underpins the way Kalman and lambert think about the show itself as the forging of a new desire path. “I think this exhibition is our desire path,” lambert says. “How can we keep reconfiguring to learn new things? What is produced when we group these works together?” 

Kalman agrees, noting that the selection of participating artists was more about “conversation rather than curation. The show is about the collective information and knowledge generation that happens through the relationships between our visions and the artists’ visions of desire paths. We are indebted to the artists for bringing their knowledge to the table.” 

Among those artists are New Zealand’s Piki Toi Collective and Detroit’s Rebel Nell, two production-focused groups that support members to make jewelry that creates sustainable work for individuals who otherwise face barriers to employment. Other artists, like New York City-based Ben Gould, who will perform his work Ardor virtually at the opening, address the theme on a more theoretical level by using the body, along with props like electrodes and ice to express the transformative powers of energy and its limits.   

The exhibition also explores Black and Indigenous futurism through artists like Virgil Ortiz, who approaches taboo subjects like BDSM through traditionally beautiful forms and in native clays, and Cannupa Hanska Luger, who created and documented the Mirror Shield Project to support water protectors at Standing Rock. Luger was also the recipient of a Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship in 2020.  

For Kalman, the show comes down to “the idea of willful creation. In historically-based crafts, you make something that you need or want, that you can use with your body. But we can also think about charting one’s own trajectory willfully through how we use, shape, and talk about our bodies, in ways that deviate from standard, mainstream, westernized norms.” 

The opening on Feb. 5 includes Gould’s virtual live performance at 2 p.m., followed by a Q&A session with the performer, videographer, and the curators. Visit centerforcraft.org/events to learn more and register. 

A virtual tour of the exhibition is scheduled for Thursday, March 4 from 6-7 p.m. The event is free, but donations of $5-10 are suggested and will support future programming. For residents and visitors to Asheville, the Center for Craft offers free, unguided visits and affordable tours of its exhibitions. Guests can pre-register to view the current exhibitions, learn more about the Center’s national impact in their Craft Research Fund Study Collection, and enjoy interactive activities. 

This is the final exhibition from the 2020 Curatorial Fellowship series. Every three years, the Curatorial Fellowship recognizes up-and-coming curators working at the cutting edge of craft. Three recipients organize shows at the Center for Craft as part of the Center’s larger conversation around craft and its evolution. Learn more at centerforcraft.org

Virgil Ortiz, Puppy Play, 2019