MAD to showcase founder’s impact on American craft culture
“Aileen Osborn Webb was one of the great visionaries of the 20th century,” said Glenn Adamson, MAD’s director. “Her progressive conception of how the world around us can be made more humanely, more responsibly, has never been more relevant. With this project, we want to remind people of this amazing woman’s many achievements, and show how the Museum today is carrying her mission forward.”
With over 100 works encompassing glass, ceramics, wood, metalwork, and fiber, nearly all from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition pays tribute to Webb, while also illustrating the ongoing impact of her advocacy. Represented makers – all of whom directly benefitted from the support of Webb and others who shared her ideals – include Sam Maloof and Joris Laarman (furniture); Jack Lenor Larsen and Lia Cook (textiles); Peter Voulkos and Jun Kaneko (ceramics); Harvey Littleton and Judith Schaechter (glass); and John Prip and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray (metal). What Would Mrs. Webb Do? also explores the contributions of Nanette L. Laitman and the Windgate Foundation, two key proponents for skilled makers today.
“Modern makers owe a debt to Mrs. Webb, who created the first professional framework for craftspeople to meet, exchange ideas, and show their work,” says exhibition curator Jeannine Falino. “We are sharing some of the best pieces made during her tenure along with examples by artists today who continue to benefit from her progressive ideas.”
“What Would Mrs. Webb Do?” showcases the strength of the museum’s permanent collection. From groundbreaking works by early masters Wharton Esherick, Anni Albers, and John Paul Miller, to recent creations by Judith Schaechter, Hiroshi Suzuki, and Joris Laarman, visitors are presented with a breadth of achievements that Mrs. Webb first set in motion. The Museum of Arts and Design continues to uphold Webb’s commitment to creative, skilled entrepreneurs with projects like “NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” (on view through Oct. 12).
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