By Howard Pousner
Atlanta wood turner Matt Moulthrop and book sculptor Brian Dettmer are among the 40 American
artists whose works comprise “40 under
40: Craft Futures,” an exhibit opening Friday at the
Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington.
The exhibit showcases works by 40 makers born since 1972, the year that the Renwick was
established as the contemporary craft and decorative arts branch of the Smithsonian American Art
But there is more than round numbers that link the pieces: Renwick curator Nicholas R. Bell selected
only works created since 9/11 in an attempt to reflect “the changed world that exists today,” as an
exhibit release terms it.
“We are seeing the beginning of a new cycle in contemporary craft, one in which the urgency of the
idea is paramount,” said Bell, who reviewed work by more than 2,000 artists to reach
the final 40.
“The blurring of disciplinary lines within craft is a trademark of 21st century artists; these 40 were
selected to show the most engaging work of their generation and to highlight newly prevalent
trends in the field.”
Moulthrop is a third-generation wood turner who has taken the classic vessel shapes of his father
Philip and late grandfather Ed and turned them in new directions, with new materials and design
approaches. He is represented locally by the Signature Shop & Gallery. (More on the artist at
The widely exhibited Dettmer — whose works can be seen this year in group shows from Chattanooga
to Paris — carves and transforms books and other old media into works of fine art sculpture.
He was selected last year by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia for its Working Artists
Project, an honor that will conclude in a MOCA GA solo exhibit opening Oct. 20. He’s represented in
Atlanta by Saltworks. (More on Dettmer at www.briandettmer.com.)
“40 under 40” will continue through Feb. 3, 2013. The Renwick hopes to purchase a work by
each artist to add to its permanent collection.
More on “40 under 40″: www.americanart.si.edu (click Exhibitions, then Upcoming).