The Object’s Not the Point

Guest blogger Namita Gupta-Wiggers shares her plans and reasons joining summer residency Session II: The Object’s Not the Point, with The Brick Factory collective this summer.  A few spots are still available for those interested in participating in this early summer residency from June 18-30.  Additional session artists include Erik Scollon, Summer Zickefoose, Thomas Myers, Carrie Marboe, and Nicole Burish. Learn more and register.
IMG_2936When Erik Scollon called and invited me to join The Brick Factory for a two-week residency at Watershed, I may have said “Yes!!” before we finished discussing what a residency can be. I could give a list of reasons why I am excited to spend time at Watershed that tie into my academic work, critical writing, and especially the three years of teaching a class on the Theory of Objects. While these are unquestionably a part of what I bring to the time together, I have very personal reasons for joining the group.
This is an opportunity to read, think, write, and talk. To do this away from daily life, dishes, the internet, cars that need tending . . . . and this will be a first for me. Curators don’t get such opportunities; independent curators even less. For this invitation to come from a group of artists I admire for their careful considerations, thoughtful writing and inspiring teaching. . . . my temptation is to gush, so I will be understated and say that I am excited to learn from everyone who will be there.
The invitation couldn’t have come at a better time for my own work as well. When I am not traveling or teaching, my work takes place at my kitchen table. It’s a beautiful spot, complete with a fluffy dog and occasional sunshine (I live in Portland, OR). I am often alone with my thoughts and the internet – but with intent. What I am doing in that space and at that spot has to go somewhere — into an article to be published, posts on Critical Craft Forum, a lecture for class. To have two weeks to read for the pleasure of thinking with the bonus of dialogue is a gift. I cannot wait to read what people share and am working on a short list of readings I have been meaning to get to or need to dive into as well.

Gupta Wiggers’ maternal grandparents, Bapu Anant Khare and Sarojini Khare, c.1930s

I have a story in me that has been working its way out for decades. It cannot be told through words alone. When Erik and The Brick Factory extended this invitation, they did not know that I was trying to figure out how to work some of these ideas out through clay. In fact, Erik’s call was one of the first moments in which I articulated this outside of journal notes and thoughts in my head. The story circles around my grandparents.  Their lives were charmed and disastrous, linked to massive shifts in global power, span three continents, textile histories from home to factory, loves and losses. I worked as a studio jeweler for a number of years after leaving a PhD program in Art History; I stopped making jewelry because I no longer relished a production process involving the fabrication of objects that I could not make in ways that conveyed what was in my head. Curating at Museum of Contemporary Craft and the exhibition making and writing that offered opened a different form of creative expression. Now, I am ready to bring this all together. I cannot wait to work through clay and conversation at Watershed this June.