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  • Handmade Petrified Wood
  • Amy Hauft (bio)

I wonder about craft-forms considered obsolete or menial and what the devolution of regard for this type of human mastery means. I use my work to present a craft or skill in a hyperbolic, subverted form. I learn a new technical process that I then use on the “wrong” scale for that process. In Period Room, I taught myself to cane, both manually and with machined caning. I then presented the caning as a means of architecturally inhabiting the exhibition space. I used sewing to the same end in No More Than Meets the Eye. I married sewing skills to an investigation of architecture, optics, and kinesthesia. In both cases, the material intervention was extensive enough to cause the viewer to be made particularly aware of his or her physical movements in the space. Those movements were circumscribed by my interventions, rendering the majority of the space physically inaccessible. However, the visually accessible portion of the space was as optically significant as the physically accessible space was kinesthetically significant. In turn, the artworks act as a means to access my viewers’ sensory perceptions, physical and optical. I am interested in what it means to operate in a society in which virtually nothing is handmade, in which so much is ingested quickly and much of the rest, virtually. I wonder if there is any detectable resonance in the hand-wrought thing. I wonder if I can slow the viewer long enough to cause an experience that operates primarily on his or her innate physical connoisseurship. I wonder if we all still have that. [End Page 68]

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Figure 1.

“Period Room.” Beaver College Art Gallery, Philadelphia, 1998. Gallery = 25′ × 50′ × 30′ high, cane plane 37″ high × 1200 sq. ft. Cane (machine and hand), plywood, florescent fixtures & bulbs, hardware. (View of the cane plane from the window of the gallery looking in. Each of the cul-de-sacs ends in a hand-caned chair. When the viewer sits in the chair, only their head shows above the plane. The horizon line is then coincident with the sitter’s eye-level. This viewer is then positioned to either gaze up at the complexly gabled gallery ceiling, or look under the plane of the caning). Photographer: Aaron Igler.

[End Page 69]

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Figure 2.

“Period Room.” View beneath the cane plan, revealing the other chairs and the cane plane’s legs. Photographer: Aaron Igler.

[End Page 70]

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Figure 3.

“No More Than Meets the Eye.” Derek Eller Gallery, NYC, 1998. Gallery = 12′ × 23′ × 13′ high, net volume = 10′ × 18′ × 12′ high, light wall = 12′ × 12′. Cotton netting, cotton bobinette, cording, wire, hardware and gallery. (Lightwall = Plexiglas, florescent lights, aluminum strips + sheetrock). [View of net volume. The volume begins 2′ in from the walls of the space. The volume begins just below the ceiling and just above the floor. The shape of the volume was a direct result of the shape of the space. This is the second version of this project; its first incarnation was in Poland in summer ’97.] Photographer: Derek Eller

[End Page 71]

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Figure 4.

“No More Than Meets the Eye.” Close-up of netting material with corded edge. In background, the light wall is visible. When the viewer stands between the net volume and the lightwall, the net volume appears opaque. Photographer: Ken Pelka

[End Page 72]

Amy Hauft

Amy Hauft grew up in southern California and earned her bachelor’s degree in art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and then earned her master of fine arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For the next two decades Hauft lived and worked in New York City, where she produced her large-scale architectural installations for museums and galleries worldwide, among them the Brooklyn Museum, the New Museum (New York City), The American Academy in Rome, and the Limerick City Gallery (Ireland). She received significant grants, including the New York Foundation for the Arts...


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pp. 68-72
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