I became very interested in all the early American furniture that I had studied to learn to build furniture [at NBSS], but I was now just as interested in the context, the social history; in the idea that this furniture was made by men, but there were specific forms that were made to be used by women.
BA Harrington CF '95
On Thursday, December 3, we were joined by Mary Savig, Curator of Craft at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, for a conversation with furniture maker, artist, and NBSS alumna BA Harrington CF '95. They showed previews of work from Suite Américaine, BA's newest project that examines a shift in American decorative arts that parallel changes in prevailing attitudes towards women.
View a video of the full conversation above.
(Note that one of the images about 40 minutes in to the presentation may be upsetting to some viewers.)
In the free-flowing conversation, Mary shared images of BA's work and objects of inspiration, including items crafted by her mother and tools from her late father's carpentry practice.
Funded by a Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship from the Center for Craft, Suite Américaine is a contemporary response that celebrates female agency and empowerment by researching the origins of three furniture forms: a late seventeenth century dowry chest, a mid-eighteenth century Queen Anne style lady's writing desk, and a late eighteenth century federal lady's worktable. Typical of BA's body of work, the resulting project will consist of six to nine sculptural furniture pieces predominantly made of wood that incorporate textile components, found objects, and video into or onto the forms.
"In the Making" is a new public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of participants on the series homepage here.