Suite Américaine

Material-culture scholar BA Harrington recreates the spirit of antique furniture with a meaningful 21st-century twist.
Photo by Steve Mann

Featuring the work of the Center for Craft’s Artist Fellows, funded by the organization’s Research Fund, Suite Américaine is the first in a series highlighting artist and material-culture scholar BA Harrington. 

“This exhibition, Suite Américaine, references late-17th through early-19th-century furniture that was designed specifically for women, but made by men,” explains Stephanie Moore, the Center’s executive director. 

Photo by Steve Mann

The French title acknowledges the 18th-century term “furniture set” but allows for the artists to feminize the word “American.” Harrington, the daughter, granddaughter, and sister of carpenters, has carried on her family’s tradition of craft and is turning it into contemporary practice. As part of a group of women-identifying woodworkers, Harrington learned to create furniture by reproducing historic forms. 

“The Craft Research Fund is a competitive mid-career grant that provides funding in support of cutting-edge research in craft practice,” says Moore. “BA Harrington, who received a grant in 2020, chose to expand upon her decade-long investigation of a late-17th-century dowry chest to create a new body of work.”

Photo by Steve Mann

While the exhibition highlights the history of American furniture-making, it’s explored with the contemporary feminist imagination. For example, furniture that holds craft skill and labor materials from the women who used it is displayed open: Linens and quilts spill out of these six pieces, offering a look at the detailed wooden interiors. 

“Harrington opens them to introduce a new dialogue with the viewer,” Moore tells Asheville Made.

The Center for Craft, 67 Broadway, Asheville. www.centerforcraft.org. 828-785-1357.

The exhibition is on display through Sept. 3

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