Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 – Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018

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Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to present Head Gear, featuring three artists who use masks and portraiture to perform, interrogate, and subvert constructed identities. Inspired by the historical uses of armor and veils, Kate Clements, Arielle DePinto, and Matt Lambert explore the implications of concealing and revealing oneself through ornament. Through a combination of objects and accompanying studio portraits, the artists experiment with classic archetypes like beauty queens, brides, widows, athletes, and soldiers to create entirely new and complex identities.

Kate Clements’ crystalline glass headdresses reveal the fragility in the construction of idealized feminine identity. Merging the preciousness of kiln-fired glass with cultural signifiers, such as bridal and widow’s veils, beauty queen tiaras, and royal crowns, she addresses the ways in which these objects transform identity and perform an idealized femininity that is ultimately fabricated and unattainable. Arielle de Pinto, meanwhile, explores a darker vein of feminine identity through expressive, crocheted chain masks, which unite material luxury with grotesque bodily forms. Reminiscent of chainmail armor, her gold vermeil and silver pieces drape and sag across the wearer’s face in a way that is equally monstrous and luxurious.

By using a visual vernacular of male sport, trophy, armor, and fetish to create his masks, Matt Lambert investigates masculinity, as well as queer and non-binary identities. The artist combines large-scale portraiture and performance with masks, ranging aesthetically from intricate fringed veils and metal headpieces that resemble protective fencing gear to leather masks with antlers that evoke hunting trophies.

HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Sarah Darro, commented: “As one of the most transformative objects in material culture, a mask can protect, conceal, empower, and free its wearer. Masks are duplicitous—they hide one face and reveal another, they horrify and beguile, they disrupt and reconstruct. They bring layered, hybrid figures to life. As the artists in Head Gear subvert existing social constructs, they also offer more nuanced possibilities and ways in which to perceive, perform, and navigate identity.”

Head Gear is curated by HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Sarah Darro.

About the Artists

Kate Clements holds an MFA degree in glass from Tyler School of Art at Temple University and a BFA degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited across the nation, in venues including the Bellevue Arts Museum, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Sherry Leedy Contemporary in Kansas City, and Bullseye Glass Gallery in Portland. She was the recipient of the Academic Award from Bullseye Glass Emerge in 2014, as well as a university fellowship from Tyler School of Art. She was an artist-in-residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and has had her work featured in Vogue Gioiello magazine.

Arielle de Pinto holds a BFA degree from Concordia Fine Arts. Her work has been exhibited internationally, in venues including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Museum of Modern Art Arnhem for Arnhem Mode Biënnale in the Netherlands, PPOW Gallery in New York, and Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans. Her work has been featured in national and international publications including VogueElleHarper’s Bazaari-DDazed & Confused, andMetalsmith.

Matt Lambert holds an MFA degree in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art and, from Wayne State University, a BFA in metals, ceramics, and printmaking and a BA in psychology. Lambert’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL; Craft Council of British Columbia Gallery in Vancouver, Canada; Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern in Munich, Germany; the Collective Design Fair in New York, NY; the Queer Culture Center in San Francisco, CA; and Platina Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden. He was the 2017 recipient of the Next Generation Award from the Surface Design Association and was the 2016 and 2017 recipient of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s program for visual artists and designers.

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