BA Harrington (Art History M.A., 2010)’s exhibition Suite Américaine is on view at the Center for Craft, Bresler Family Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina through November 26th, 2021. A recorded virtual exhibition tour is forthcoming.
The daughter, granddaughter, and sister of carpenters, artist and material culture scholar BA Harrington carries craft lineage into contemporary practice. Part of a growing, intersectional cohort of women-identifying woodworkers, Harrington learned her trade, like many before her, by reproducing furniture forms of the past. Her solo exhibition, Suite Américaine, holds a reverence for the history of American furnituremaking, but is inflected with a contemporary feminist imagination. This body of work references late-seventeenth through early-nineteenth century dower chests, writing desks, and sewing tables, which were designed specifically for women but made by men. However, where these objects once stored and concealed the labor and craft skill of women, Harrington opens them. The six objects expose, activate, and celebrate their rich interiors, with linens and quilts spilling out of their wooden casings. The use of French in the exhibition’s title, Suite Américaine, is a nod to the eighteenth century term for a furniture set and also allows the artist to feminize the word “American.” Similarly, the work on display acts as a feminist intervention on historic furniture. Harrington not only remakes the original forms with her own hands, asserting her technical skill, but also highlights the revolutionary potential of furniture to self-actualize the creative endeavors of women.
BA Harrington is the recipient of the Center for Craft’s inaugural Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship. Each year this substantial mid-career grant is awarded to two artists who are revising, reclaiming, and advancing the history of craft through their work.