Read Culture

Art + Design in Miami: The Art of Craft

Knitting, knotting, weaving and other handywork from the art and design fairs in Miami

In our second look at the common threads running through Art Basel and its satellite fairs, we shed light on the knitted, knotted, woven and other handywork that elevated traditional craft techniques to an artistic level. While we all were taken by Ambach & Rice Gallery‘s presentation of Ellen Lesperance‘s flattened-out sweater diagrams (covered on Cool Hunting last April), below are ten works new to us that celebrate sheer artistry.

miami-craft-ellsworth1.jpg miami-craft-ellsworth2.jpg

Disciplinary artist Angela Ellsworth turns prairie attire into slightly sinister works with her series of sculptural hats. This 2010 piece, “Seer Bonnet VIII” is made from nearly 20,000 pearl corsage pins and fabric—a stunner we saw at the Lisa Sette Gallery at Art Miami.

miami-craft-willis1.jpg miam-craft-willis2.jpg

Brian Wills exhibited at Nada with his 2011 work “Untitled (Blue Cross)”—a perfectly woven intersection of ribbons that is as imaginative as it is structured.

miami-craft-jungen1.jpg miami-craft-jungen2.jpg

“My Decoy” and “Walking Heart” are both 2011 office chair assemblages by Canadian artist Brian Jungen, in which stretched elk hides are held together with tarred twine. The unique works were on view through Casey Kaplan gallery at Art Basel.

miami-craft-Bourgeois1.jpg miami-craft-Bourgeois2.jpg

Passing away in 2010 at 99-years-old, Louise Bourgeois’s small sewn fabric collages represent her philosophy that “art is a guaranty of sanity.” Our favorite among the series is the 2004 tapestry called “Fabric BOUR-6821,” which was on view through Galleri Andersson/Sandstrom at Art Miami.


Augusto Esquivel stopped pedestrians at Art Miami with his trio of sculptures on view at Now Contemporary Art. Strategically placed buttons hang to reveal a gramophone, grandfather clock and an antiquated telephone.


Seoul’s Gallery Seomi brought multiple intriguing chairs to DesignMiami/ but we couldn’t escape the fine craftsmanship of Bae Sehwa‘s walnut chaise. Brilliantly curved, it’s as easy on your eyes as it is on your seat.

miami-craft-suh1.jpg miami-craft-suh2.jpg

Exhibited through Lehmann Maupin gallery at Art Basel, “Specimen Series: New York City Apartment – 1” is Do Ho Suh’s version of standard utilities and fixtures found in urban rentals, delicately crafted in polyester fabric.


Beginning outside with palm trees covered in men’s dress shirts, Finish sculptor Kaarina Kaikkonen continued to impress at Art Miami with her “And The Sea Was Empty” installation, originally created in 1998.


At Art Basel, Berlin’s Neugerriemschneider gallery spotlighted Simon Starling’s clever bike concept, called “Carbon (Urban).” The 2006-designed bike features a chainsaw for a chain and comes equipped with chopped wood.


Enrique Gomez de Molina conflates taxidermy techniques to create exquisitely creepy animals, such as this 2011 work called “Tauro”—a bison made from ring neck pheasant feathers. Spotted at Art Miami, de Molina is represented by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery.

Contributions by Josh Rubin, Jonah Samson and Karen Day


More stories like this one.