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Exhibition spotlights the creative communities that are flourishing throughout New York City
View of CONFETTISYSTEM New York Studio, 2012. Photo: CONFETTISYSTEM.

NEW YORK, NY.- This summer, the Museum of Arts and Design transforms itself into a nexus for New York City’s leading makers—artists, artisans, and designers—through NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, the first exhibition organized under the leadership of MAD Director Glenn Adamson. NYC Makers showcases the work of approximately 100 highly skilled individuals who apply an outstanding level of workmanship to the creation of objects or environments that shape our everyday lives.

Exemplifying the Museum’s ongoing commitment to craftsmanship across all creative fields, the exhibition provides a platform not only for makers who typically display their work in a museum setting, but also those who work behind the scenes. On view from July 1 through October 12, 2014, and marking the first in a series of exhibitions examining the culture of making in urban communities, NYC Makers highlights the interconnected web of cultural production in New York City today and underscores the importance of craft in contemporary life.

“There is a prevailing perception that New York in the digital age is no longer a city of skilled makers, when, in fact, craftsmanship continues to flourish throughout the five boroughs. NYC Makers uncovers the variety of production and creativity in the city, and places a spotlight on the skilled individuals who spend every day crafting our futures,” said Adamson, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “Since its founding, the Museum of Arts and Design has championed the way that artists and designers transform the world around us, using both traditional and cutting-edge creative processes. This exhibition reflects this core mission across the full range of crafted production, and establishes a new paradigm of 21st-century making as an engine for creative industry.”

From stone masons to set designers, instrument makers to media-art collectives, NYC Makers reveals the contributions of 21st-century makers to contemporary society and presents a sweeping cross-section of the cultural production occurring within a single city. The exhibition is structured thematically as a series of immersive tableaus, which group together a diverse range of works. Replacing traditional display cases, these environments are crafted by participating makers, highlighting the spectrum of skills represented in the exhibition. The galleries will host live programming throughout the exhibition’s run, including fashion shows, demonstrations, performances, social practice projects, and culinary explorations, which underline the relationship between material and immaterial making found in New York City today.

“It is an exciting prospect to open up the Museum to the breadth of production found throughout the City with NYC Makers. Through this exhibition, we hope to further transform MAD into a laboratory that not only presents but also supports those who have chosen to continue to work and live in NYC,” said Jake Yuzna, Director of Public Programs at MAD and Curator of NYC Makers. “Building on New York’s rich history of fearless and groundbreaking culture, today’s practitioners are leveling traditional hierarchies through post-disciplinary practices that respond to the challenges of working in the five boroughs today. Their contributions not only impact culture on a global scale, but continue to make NYC one of the most interesting urban communities in the world.”

Every maker included in the exhibition demonstrates the highest level of skill in their respective field, whether by fabricating furniture or fashion; creating artworks, films, or architecture; inventing new possibilities for food; or reshaping educational and social gatherings. Highlights include the following works:

· Metropolitan Opera’s set design for Der Fledermaus illuminates the work behind their elaborate stage environments, constructed to transport audiences into the drama unfolding on stage;

· A scratch-and-sniff wallpaper along MAD’s stairwell produced in collaboration with olfactory artist Carlos Benaim, artist item idem, and wallpaper company Flavor Paper. The wallpaper found on each landing represents additive layers of an original scent made for the biennial, providing visitors with an increasingly complex sensory experience as they walk up the stairs;

· Stained glass artist Joseph Cavalieri’s window of Jackie O. showcases how he is pushing his discipline into the 21st century by incorporating pop-culture references into his work;

· An exploded human skull and mummified brain by Ryan Matthew Cohn, who is known for reviving the 19th-century tradition of developing medical education tools;

· Gem artist John Hatleberg’s bejeweled workstation, which is encrusted with his personal collection of gems and stones, and provides insight into his practice of producing exact replicas of famous jewels. In addition, Hatleberg’s replica of the Koor-i-Noor diamond will be on view;

· Two innovative hats by milliner H E I D I L E E, whose cutting edge approach to hat making reflects the media-savvy, instagram culture of today’s fashion conscious consumer and illustrates how this historic practice has evolved for modern audiences;

· Stone carver Chris Pellettieri’s original stone carving of a two-headed bust that represents two opposing economic sides of NYC today, created within the Museum’s open studios;

· Miriam Ellner’s verre eglomisé screen, which employs the process of gilding the reverse side of glass with gold or metal leaf, engraving a design, and applying color; Miriam is one of the few designers working today who has mastered this tradition;

· Multimedia artist Laurie Anderson’s custom-made level duet instrument;

· Lighting designer Lindsey Adelman’s custom chandelier, marking the debut of a new work in her “Totem” series, which is inspired by structural forms found in nature and incorporates handmade materials with the industrial;

· Two immersive “mural” installations in MAD’s lobby that are created by hand from paper and mylar by CONFETTISYSTEM, an artist-design collective whose work unites sculpture, design, and product;

· One of the immersive tableaus constructed specifically for the exhibition by Jeffrey Landman, which consists of customized furniture, pedestals, and stanchions, among other display platforms that are tailored to present the work of tool-makers, whose meticulous creations are often overlooked in a museum setting but are vital to the artistic process;

· Two looks from fashion designer Shayne Oliver’s clothing line Hood by Air, characterized by its volumetric proportions and amplified logo, merging street and athletic wear with a high fashion sensibility;

· An immersive space designed by architect Rafael de Cárdenas that draws inspiration from NYC’s unique history of nightclub architecture and interior design. The installation will not only reveal the “behind the scenes” teams of designers, artists, artisans, and fabricators behind large scale projects, but will also house live performances and workshops throughout the run of the exhibition;

· Wearable technology by Aisen Caro Chacin that allows the wearer to listen to mp3 players and other audio players through their teeth and jawbone instead of their eardrums. These players will be made available as an alternative audio tour at the front desk of the Museum.

Participating makers were nominated last winter by a committee of over 300 New York City-based cultural leaders and civic figures from a range of trades and disciplines, including museum curators, choreographers, academics, chefs, musicians, and journalists. Final participants were selected in early February by a panel chaired by Murray Moss and including Glenn Adamson, Lowery Stokes Sims, Jake Yuzna, and cultural leaders representing all five boroughs: Joe Ahearn, Regine Basha, Sergio Bessa, Lisa Dent, Patrick Grenier, and Robert Wilson.

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