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Against the Grain is open at the Museum of Arts and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design unveils its latest cross-disciplinary show, "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design."

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

Photograph: Jessica Lin

"Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design

The new show at the Museum of Arts and Design, "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design," is another of the institution's brilliant crossdisciplinary mashups—or perhaps we should say graftings—this time focused on wood. The elemental building material is familiar, and may initially evoke images of utilitarian furniture or lifelike carvings. But as the works in this show elegantly prove, wood is sensual and alluring too, and makes an unexpectedly ideal medium for flights of imagination, meditation—even a utopian vision come to life, in the form of a fenceless habitat of semiwild Paduan chickens in the Hamptons. The show's kid-friendly highlights include Hope Sandrow's Coop LeWitt North, a sculpture the artist constructed according to a Sol LeWitt drawing from his 1981 series "Variations of a Cube." It serves as a coop for the aforementioned heritage chickens, one of which, the artist says, "completely changed my life." A live video feed lets kids glimpse the unfettered lives of these birds in their yard. Speaking of chickens, artist Willie Cole's Malcolm's Chicken is an evocative sculpture made largely of matches and brooms that riffs on a controversial remark made by Malcolm X—but children will love it for the pure genius of its design. Mark Moskovitz's Facecord looks, at first glance, to be a massive cord of firewood. But on closer inspection it reveals itself as an ingenious, fully functional chest of drawers that would turn any room into a rustic cabin. Two other pieces of quasi-furniture include Christopher Kurtz's A(typical) Windsor Form, a sculpture of two connected chairs that the viewer seems to catch dancing with each other, and Ricky Swallow's Come Together, a sculpture of a beanbag concealing a skull that's so lifelike it's nearly impossible to believe it's made of wood. Two works that transport the viewer to another world are as different as can be. Hunt Clark's Traffic, a seashell-like wood sculpture on which two video loops are projected—one of a flock of birds in flight, the other of highway traffic—is mesmerizing. The same is true of Australian artist Gary Carsley's D. 100 Wave Hill (Tree Struck by Lightning), an Ikea commode whose doors are open, revealing an abstracted rustic scene based on a photograph he took at Wave Hill. Despite its artifice, the piece draws you in, like the wardrobe to Narnia, and doesn't want to let go.


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