Open January 28 – June 24, 2018, Polymer Art: Recent Acquisitions showcases artworks new to Racine Art Museum (RAM) since the donation of over 200 polymer pieces in 2011. These recent gifts have introduced new artists to the collection and expanded upon existing bodies of work by incorporating different types of objects or broadening the scope of years represented. Referencing the significance of the groundwork laid in earlier years, Polymer Art includes pieces that were part of the original gift that established RAM’s polymer collection, the largest of its kind in the world.
In 2011, the Racine Art Museum organized Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads, an exhibition featuring works made of polymer, a workable plastic-based compound used to make modeling clays, such as Fimo® or Sculpey®. Primarily comprised of works that had been gifted to RAM, Terra Nova emphasized the development of polymer as an expressive medium in recent decades. In addition, RAM produced a book of the same name and hosted a symposium so that leading artists could come together to discuss the past, present, and future of the material.
While art jewelry comprises the biggest portion of the holdings in this material, there are also examples of sculpture, furniture with polymer veneers, and vessels. This exhibition also debuts a teapot by Jeffrey Lloyd Dever, Seeking Solace, which is the first piece purchased with RAM’s Polymer Art Acquisition and Care Fund. This endowment was established to support the “care and feeding” of pieces already in the museum’s collection and acquire new polymer works.
Polymer Art ties artwork together based on material commonality. Remaining consistent with RAM’s desire to look at the field in a broad context, polymer objects have also been––and will continue to be––shown in exhibitions alongside craft made with other media.