Recent visitors to the Carnegie Museum of Art may have noticed sections closed with signs promising new exhibit. These areas will reopen when the museum unveils Ordinary extraordinary things, a showcase for the decorative arts.
On Saturday July 24, CMOA will inaugurate the new exhibition, described in a press release as showcasing more than 300 objects – including 150 recent acquisitions – from 21 designers, studios and companies. The pieces range from “evocative and extraordinary to practical and everyday”.
“Ordinary extraordinary things celebrates the beauty of design and takes advantage of the familiarity of the objects on display to inspire visitors to reflect on their relationships with material things, ”says Rachel Delphia, Alan G. of CMOA, and Jane A. Lehman, Curator of Decorative Arts and of design. Delphia organized the exhibition with Alyssa Velazquez, curatorial assistant for Decorative Arts and Design.
Located in the 8,000 square foot Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries, Ordinary extraordinary things marks the museum’s first major update to its galleries since 2009.
The new show is described as covering “some of the most important design developments of the past three centuries,” including modernism and the revival of craftsmanship, as well as the emergence of digital designs.
Unlike other forms of visual art, decorative art refers to works that serve both an aesthetic and a functional purpose, including furniture, tableware, lamps, and other common items. The term emerged as a way to challenge the rigid distinctions between the highly regarded fine art and the minor arts, with decorative pieces often falling under the latter. It also emphasizes the role of craftsmanship, as decorators develop specialized skills by working with clay, metal, wood, textiles, and other materials in order to make the pieces usable.
Unlike fine art which favors exclusivity, decorative arts can also be applied to mass-produced pieces.
CMOA believes Ordinary extraordinary things matters more now, as “many people’s relationships with their homes and the objects they contain take on increased relevance and deeper meaning due to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Experts in art and design, as well as the retail world, have recognized this before, with many noting how interiors are changing now that people are spending more time at home than in the office or on the go. . In June 2020, Forbes reported that retailers saw a significant increase in the number of Americans purchasing household items, including “party” tableware as people cooked and ate more, and home office furniture.
The article adds that spending more time indoors has led buyers to “reconsider their interior design and embrace the inclination towards ‘nesting’, the desire to rearrange one’s surroundings to increase comfort, cleanliness or longevity. ‘pleasant aesthetics’.
Also important, especially with regard to Ordinary extraordinary thingsis that people not only bought decorative items, but made them. The bored and confined to the house became amateurs, with many turning to crochet, knitting and other hobbies. Even celebrities attended, the most surprising of comedy actor Seth Rogen, who documented on social media his growth as a ceramic artist.
In this new era, the CMOA therefore sees Ordinary extraordinary things as a space that offers “unlimited inspiration and endless possibilities for functional design, especially within the home, for visitors to learn more, consider and enjoy”. The museum also plans to organize workshops, conferences, tours, public programs and collaborations related to the exhibition.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries to explore how these objects enhance our lives through their functionality, add fun and lightness through their technology, and uplift and inspire us with their beauty and their personal associations, ”said Delphia.