Knitting at the Renwick Gallery

October 26, 2009 § 1 Comment

© Renwick Gallery

© Renwick Gallery

In 1972, the Renwick Gallery became part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s craft and decorative arts program. Named for the architect James Renwick who completed this masterpiece of a building, it was started in 1859 and finished in 1874 in Washington, DC. This gem of a museum features one of the finest collections of American craft in the United States. Its collections, exhibition program and publications highlight the best craft objects and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present. One-of-a-kind pieces created from clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood from American Art’s permanent collection of contemporary craft are displayed on a rotating basis in the second-floor galleries.

Currently on exhibit is a show titled “Staged Stores: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009” running from August 7, 2009 to January 3, 2010. One of the artists participating in this show is fiber artist Mark Newport, an artist-in-residence and head of the fiber department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He examines issues of masculinity through knitted superhero costumes that mix adolescent male subject matter with craft techniques usually associated with women. With life-sized knit superhero suits, comic bedspreads and an aran cabled jumpsuit (one of our favorites here at Be Sweet) to name a few, this exhibit is a must see for any fiber enthusiast.

© Mark Newport

© Mark Newport

Running alongside this exhibit is a work-in-progress knitting project, started by Newport himself. At the end of the exhibit viewers are invited to pick up their needles and add a few rows or switch up the colors and try something new.  The idea of knitting as a group project when knitting is usually a solitary event is very interesting, although not as interesting as the piece itself! At the exhibit’s end the finished knitting piece will remain part of the Renwick’s collection and the rest of the show will travel to its next stop.

The Renwick is also offering a Sit & Knit (see schedule here) on certain afternoons. In the same room as Newport’s latest work in progress is an expert knitter and yarn and needles for beginners. Many people want to learn how to knit and simply never find the opportunity. Knitters of all skill levels are also welcome to come, sit and knit. The feeling of knitters as a community working together on their own projects is a fantastic end to the exhibit.

The show is up until January, so what are you waiting for? Grab your needles and yarn, see the show and knit in one of Washington DC’s finest museums.

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