What does it say about Herron School of Art and Design that nearly half of the artists featured in the Indiana State Museum’s upcoming show, Fearless Furniture, have a Herron connection? According to David Buchanan curator, Decorative Arts and Furniture, it means “Herron’s built an incredible furniture design program. It’s at the very pinnacle now.” The exhibition opens October 5 and continues through May 2014.
Meredith McGovern, the State Museum’s arts and culture collections manager said, “We anchored the show with three invited artists—Cory Robinson (alumnus, associate professor and fine arts department chair), because of the program Herron has built and the direction it’s going, Laura Drake (alumna and assistant professor of industrial design at Purdue University) because of Purdue’s industrial design program and its furniture component, and Randall O’Donnell, a more traditional artist working out of Nashville, Indiana. With these anchors in place, we put out a call for artists. Fifty-eight artists responded with 139 pieces submitted for the juried component of the exhibition.”
Fearless Furniture is a departure from the museum’s previous shows of historic furniture. The exhibition showcases contemporary fine art furniture by artists with an Indiana connection. Their work is both functional and aesthetically intriguing. As Buchanan describes the attraction, “One wants to use it, also to stare at it.” Fearless Furniture was inspired by a 2009 ISM show, Making it in the Midwest, which featured two- and three-dimensional art.
“From a historical point of view,” said Buchanan, “with Fearless Furniture the museum wants to help our visitors understand Indiana’s well-established traditions of woodworking. For example, Tom Lincoln was an incredible cabinetmaker. Indiana had magnificent forests and a surfeit of materials. The Wooten Desk Company was meeting the needs of the times, making furniture with the design elements people were looking for in the late 1800s. We have a rich history of veneer industries … but there are also people in the show who are not working in wood.”
Wendy Maruyama, professor emerita of Woodworking and Design at San Diego State University, juried Fearless Furniture. “We talked with quite a few people and her name kept popping up as a qualified and knowledgeable person, who as a maker knows first-hand what goes into each work,” Buchanan said. “It took her more time than she at first anticipated because of the volume of submissions…she was delighted with the high quality and the sheer number of entries.”
Maruyama will present a lecture at the Indiana State Museum on Friday, October 11 at 4:00 p.m., followed by a reception celebrating the opening of the exhibition. Both events are free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP to the museum at (317)-232-1637.
In addition to Robinson and Drake, Herron-related artists in Fearless Furniture include: Erin Behling (B.F.A. ’99); Ray Duffey (M.F.A. ’11 and Herron shop technician); Reagan Furqueron (assistant professor and director of foundations); Matt Hutton (B.F.A. ’99); James Lee (B.F.A. ’82); Phillip Tennant (retired professor); Steven Sander (B.F.A. ’12); Robert Sibley, (completed foundation studies at Herron); and Colin Tury (second-year M.F.A. degree candidate). In addition to O’Donnell, Fearless Furniture artists that are not related to Herron include: Dale Barnard, Alex Dorfman, Jeffrey Fleming, Glen Fuller, Kenton Hall, Dustin Headley, Nancy Hiller, Vincent Leman, Rob Millard-Mendez, Jim Rose, Ron Schouten, and Hongtao Zhou.