Why the Closing of the Museum of Contemporary Craft Is a Major Loss

Why the Closing of the Museum of Contemporary Craft Is a Major Loss

The next time you find yourself hate-reading a fawning profile of a photogenic young Brooklyn potter whose hot-pink-rimmed wares are transforming the “stuffy world of ceramics into a cool new craft” (or something to that effect), navigate yourself away from there, and instead visit the website of the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC) in Portland, Oregon. Here you will find a digital record of nimble cultural production that will knock your socks off. If you’re not already familiar with this small but mighty 79-year-old institution, its website will introduce you to an array of exhibitions, events, and programs that have helped shaped high-level thinking about craft practice in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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How Dutch Wax Fabrics Became a Mainstay of African Fashion

How Dutch Wax Fabrics Became a Mainstay of African Fashion

Riotously colorful, densely patterned, and unassailably fabulous, Vlisco fabrics have, for decades, been tailored into shift dresses, power suits, and formal gowns for Central and West Africa’s cosmopolitan elite. Their patterns and palettes evince an instantly recognizable aesthetic. And there are scores of Vlisco imitators: Chinese knockoffs are sold on city streets all over the world. But are any of these fabrics in fact African? The exhibition Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage, on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) as part of a suite of shows and programs called “Creative Africa,” poses this question in an indirect but intriguing way, by explaining the company’s origins in the Dutch colonial empire and demonstrating its products’ lasting popularity, in African fashion and beyond.

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Ceramic Vases that Contain All the Beauty and Ugliness of US History

Ceramic Vases that Contain All the Beauty and Ugliness of US History

Of all the astonishing things Roberto Lugo has done in his career — from creating a DIY potter’s wheel and mixing his own clay from dirt in an urban scrapyard, to creating a new genre of hip-hop-inflected political porcelain — the most radical might be that he is head over heels in love with something rather uncool in the contemporary art world: skill. In his exhibition Defacing Adversity: The Life and Times of Roberto Lugo at Wexler Gallery, Lugo’s creations are bursting with wit and formal mastery, even as they sport the drips and brush marks of graffiti and liberally-applied glaze. The vessels exude a forceful sense of patriotic bling; for his first solo exhibition in his native city, in a gallery within walking distance of Independence Hall, Lugo celebrates the US founding fathers, public intellectuals of color, musicians, poets, and presidential candidates.

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The Bauhaus Connection in Google’s New Logo

The Bauhaus Connection in Google’s New Logo

When the news broke yesterday that Google had a brand new logo — the biggest change to its visual identity since its inception in 1998 — the design twitterverse exploded with commentary about the thickness of the new letterforms and their conspicuous lack of serifs. On Tuesday morning, typographers chimed in with praise and scorn, often about the perception that the rounded characters paired with the company’s signature color-block hues seem too childlike for a technology behemoth. But what Google introduced is actually much more complex than a new logo: it’s a new identity system, comprehensive in its design and intended to visually unify the disparate ways in which we all interact with Google products (whether we like it or not) every day.

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Photographs from a 1950s Cross-Dressing Retreat

Photographs from a 1950s Cross-Dressing Retreat

An elegant black envelope arrived in my mailbox last week. Inside is a square, burgundy-colored folder containing a catalogue of 1950 and ’60s snapshots. On the cover, an off-white, hand-lettered logo reads “Casa Susanna.” The photographs reproduced inside appear at first glance to portray a group of women at leisure: posing in the kitchen, dressed smartly for dinner, sporting fashionable bathing suits, sitting in a field of wildflowers. They are to be sold as a single lot by Wright auction house on October 30.

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