Last March, Milwaukee's own decorative arts foundation, Chipstone, issued a challenge to a cadre of established artists in the UK and the US: Take a peek into your box o' creative instruments, choose one that grabs your usually splintered attention and make a work of art using just that one gadget. In addition, the artisans must shoot a video documenting their process and explaining to the rest of us just how easy/difficult it was to accomplish this formidable mission.
The means by which the artists were invited to participate in this project and subsequent exhibition curated by Ethan Lasser at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) was through visual demonstration—a sweet short video by filmmaker Nicola Probert:
Okay, first of all, I absolutely love the fact that there are missing pixels in the footage—a quirky problem common among older cameras—which can be clearly seen in the shots taken prior to the lens cap being removed. Second of all, it is truly amazing that the camera continues to shoot so far into the dismantling process, clearly telling us all that there can still be life in something that's had its attractive outer skin stripped. Third of all, Probert's haphazard manicure—at the beginning of the video one hand has chipped red polish and the other blue—shows us her punky little hands, proving that she's a full-on artist who's completely immersed in the task and isn't aiming for a shallow yet far more lucrative gig as a hand model.
In the end, sixteen artists accepted Chipstone's invitation to participate in the The Tool at Hand and their works + videos are on display in the Decorative Arts Gallery at MAM, starting today and running through April 1, 2012. To get you more than interested, view some of the artist's videos here.
If you happen to be free tonight and you're looking to cram some learnin' into your brain, there's a gallery talk at 6:15PM. Also, they've scheduled a super fun event called Tool Weekend from March 16-18, complete with artist talks, demonstrations, competitions, and performances, giving you the opportunity to express en masse what's sure to become the exhibit's catchphrase, "What a tool."