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Fosdick-Nelson Gallery exhibition focuses on 'Raw Goods'
1/21/11

Unfinished knives at Cutco

Unfinished knives at Cutco

“Raw Goods: the transformation of material by local industries” opens Friday, Jan. 28, at the Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Harder Hall, on the Alfred University (AU) campus.

An opening reception is planned for 7-9 p.m. Friday (Jan. 28), with a timber-frame demonstration by Sean Hyland starting at 7 p.m. that evening.
A gallery talk is scheduled for noon Feb. 2.

Curated by Anne Currier, professor of ceramic art, and Ezra Shales, assistant professor of art history in the School of Art & Design at AU, the exhibition “features the diverse range and versatility of objects made of ceramics, metal, glass and wood, manufactured by local companies. This show reveals another side of Alfred’s rural setting—that enduring and innovative industries are flourishing in Western New York. The exhibition shows that within a 100-mile radius of the University, goods are designed and produced that have a global reach.

Most of the companies have opened their doors to Currier’s and Shales’s class field trips in the past. The professors take their students to manufacturing facilities to conduct material research firsthand; this exhibition brings into the school’s gallery some of the primary evidence the students consider “awesome and inspiring.”

The exhibition will afford visitors the opportunity to see architectural ceramics before it covers the exterior of buildings and steak knives before they are honed and set out on a dining table. As Currier and Shales explain, “Porcelain insulators, architectural terracotta, refined steel knives, milled logs and laminated lenses: all products address esthetic and functional applications that affect our lives. Their beauty as objects is inherent to the interplay of intention, material, and craftsmanship of the manufacturer. Presentation in the gallery transforms the context: objects are viewed for their size and scale, mass and weight, volume and density, engineering and handling.

“The intent of this exhibition is to offer access and insight into the current designs, applications and technologies of objects produced by the companies, many of whom compete in a global marketplace. The relationships between art, design, material and industry remain an unfolding dialectic; what is ‘industrial craft?,’ ‘Where is the manu (hand) in manufacture?’ and ‘How do individual firms define ‘technology?’

Currier and Shales say the objects featured in the exhibition are not only manufactured from “raw goods,” they are “themselves raw goods; they exist in a transitional stage. Their completion is determined by inclusion in additional processes. Their refinement from raw materials is essential to the quality of the finished product.”

Shales and two students – Shawn H. Baker and Elena Zachary – will present a Bergren Forum at 12:10 p.m. Feb. 3 in Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center. During their talk, entitled “Investigations into Local Manufacturing,” Shales and the students will share what they learned about the refinement of ceramic, glass, wood and metal by visiting many of the same manufacturers who are represented in the “Raw Goods” exhibit. The students will also talk about the surprises they found concerning the social conditions of production, and what they found eye-opening about local craftsmanship.

The exhibition ‘Raw Goods’ runs from Jan. 28 through Feb. 23.

Companies whose products are included in the exhibit are:

Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Orchard Park, NY, architectural ceramics. http://www.bostonvalleytc...

Eddy Lumber Company, Alfred Station, NY, milled lumber products.

Hyland Woodcraft, Alfred Station, NY, fine wood furniture and timber framing.

Victor Insulator, Victor, NY, porcelain electrical insulators. http://www.victorinsulato...

Cutco Cutlery, Olean, NY, knives and other implements. http://www.cutco.com/home...

ITT Geospatial Systems, Rochester, NY, a “global supplier of innovative night vision, remote sensing and navigation solutions that provide sight and situational awareness at the space, airborne, ground and soldier levels.” http://www.ssd.itt.com/

Shawn H. Baker is a senior in the School of Art & Design at Alfred University. A graduate of Winchester High School, he is a son of Jeffry and Agnes Baker of Winchester, MA.

Elena Zachary, a senior in the School of Art & Design, is a graduate of Northampton High School. She is a daughter of John and Susan Zachary of Florence, MA.