January 21, 2024 through March 14, 2024
Hershberger Art Gallery - inside the GC Music Center
Tom Ashcraft Exhibit | Eric Yake Kenagy Visiting Artist
Objects carry both personal and social meaning, and ownership or usage increases the linkage between the object and the self.
Du Quotidien was created during two, 2-day sessions with faculty, staff, and student participants from the Studies in Arts and Cultures Program, Université Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger (November 2018) and the School of Art + Design, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina, U.S. (January, 2019). During each session, participants were invited to sit for an individual portrait and provide a significant hand-held object for documentation. They were asked to briefly describe their object and how they saw themselves as an artist in their community.
As these sessions took place, which were organized to encourage fluid discussion and socializing, the question we asked ourselves was "What does diplomacy look like?" That became the framework for the project we embarked upon.
Diplomacy, as we know it now, is the art of engaging with people in a sensitive and effective way, which resonated with this project bringing two distinct communities together. We were also fascinated to learn the root of the word "diplomacy" is derived from the terms "folded in two" and "an object", which conjures a mental image not too dissimilar from a modern passport.
The Du Quotidien sessions resulted in a large- scale, 40-panel permanent artwork installation in the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger.
The artwork in this exhibition re-examines a selection of the objects and re-contextualizes the socially engaged sessions that took place in Niamey, Niger and Cullowhee, NC. By playing with the scale of the documentation of these objects, it reinforces their personal value while also decontextualizing them from their relationship to their original owner.
Tm Ashcraft's diverse practice is rooted in object-making, public and participatory artwork. In 2005 he co-founded Workingman Collective, a collaborative group of artists and other professionals whose membership, goals and missions change with each project. This open framework creates a conceptual agency for exploring a wide range of possibilities, whether working individually or engaging with artists, architects, biologists or barbers. Tom and Workingman Collective have exhibited and produced work in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.
Born in Long Beach, California, raised in Nevada and Florida. After thirty plus years in the DC area, Tom is now based in Asheville, North Carolina. He is currently the MFA Director and Distinguished Professor at the School of Art + Design, Western Carolina University.
Contact: Veronica J Berkey, phone 7400, email email@example.com