In the ten or so years since industrial designer Stephen Burks began creating objects, he's gathered an impressive roster of collaborators and clients from around the globe including Aid To Artisans, Cappellini, Estee Lauder, Missoni, Moroso, The Nature Conservancy and Swarovski. From Burks' aptly named New York studio, Readymade Projects, raw and recycled materials, found and repurposed objects, artisanal and hand-made crafts are transformed into clever, functional products with seductive details composed of immediate forms in vibrant colors.
Reflecting upon the conditions that shape design in today's world, is at the heart of Burks' ongoing project to reconsider the status of the hand-made object in an age of mass-production and planned obsolescence. Burks is sensitive to the conditions of globalization in that his works respond to how cultural traditions and craft technologies migrate from their birthplace as artisans immigrate around the world. These same forces also bring more and more artisanal products to the marketplace, both in their original useful functions and as decorative objects.
As part of the Spring 2011 season, The Studio Museum in Harlem is pleased to present Stephen Burks: Man Made, a unique project that furthers Burks' ongoing exploration of the global economy of artisanal craft. Inspired by Burks' collaboration with Senegalese basket weavers based in New York and Dakar, as well as projects with artisans in South Africa, Peru and India, Man Made starts with the traditional basket-weaving process as its core concept. Throughout the exhibition, the Museum's galleries will be transformed into a workshop where New York-based weavers and artisans will create a series of functional and experimental objects and installations conceived by Burks.
The exhibition will also include photographic and video documentation of Burks' travels, as well as his own drawings and prototypes, so that audiences can experience the entire design process from inspiration to completion. On one hand, Man Made is an interactive design exhibition, and on the other it is an active platform for working with a collective of West African artisans whose objects and presence have become a significant part of the Harlem community.
Organized by Associate Curator Naomi Beckwith, Man Made is Burks' first solo museum exhibition in New York and will be accompanied by a new monograph designed by Burks with Studio Lin. The book will follow several of his recent projects, including those for the Museum and private clients. With Man Made and the new book, audiences will come to understand Burks's singular vision of making, a vision committed to the expansive notion of design as an authentic basis for the production of culture in a contemporary, global context.
Stephen Burks: Man Made
The Studio Museum in Harlem
On show through 26 June 2011