Extra/OrdinaryExtra⁄Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art
Edited by Maria Elena Buszek

WINNER OF 2011-12 Lo Presti Prize: Best Essay Collection
Art Libraries Society of North America

Contemporary artists such as Ghada Amer and Clare Twomey have gained international reputations for work that transforms ordinary craft media and processes into extraordinary conceptual art, from Amer’s monumental stitched paintings to Twomey’s large, ceramics-based installations. Despite the amount of attention that curators and gallery owners have paid to these and many other conceptual artists who incorporate craft into their work, few art critics or scholars have explored the historical or conceptual significance of craft in contemporary art. Extra/Ordinary takes up that task. Reflecting on what craft has come to mean in recent decades, artists, critics, curators, and scholars develop theories of craft in relation to art, chronicle how fine-art institutions understand and exhibit craft media, and offer accounts of activist crafting, or craftivism. Some contributors describe generational and institutional changes under way, while others signal new directions for scholarship, considering craft in relation to queer theory, masculinity, and science. Encompassing quilts, ceramics, letterpress books, wallpaper, and textiles, and moving from well-known museums to home workshops and political protests, Extra/Ordinary is an eclectic introduction to the “craft culture” referenced and celebrated by artists promoting new ways of thinking about the role of craft in contemporary art.

Contributors. Elissa Auther, Anthea Black, Betty Bright, Nicole Burisch, Maria Elena Buszek, Jo Dahn, M. Anna Fariello, Betsy Greer, Andrew Jackson, Janis Jefferies, Louise Mazanti, Paula Owen, Karin E. Peterson, Lacey Jane Roberts, Kirsty Robertson, Dennis Stevens, Margaret Wertheim



“The publication can be warmly recommended to all those who like to indulge in reading, and are interested in the debate that exists between the spheres of craft and art.”
— Textile Forum

“[A] smart, sassy collection of essays . . . bound to be a new classic for both academics and craft artists.” — BUST

“Not a foundational reader, nor an academic history, the volume is a kind of ‘the state of craft in art’ after postmodernism. The selection of essays introduces myriad hybrid practices as well as the academics, writers, and practitioners—some recent graduates, some established professionals—currently working in this under-theorized area. Rather than an attempt to narrow the field, this book attests to an expansive, decentered, vibrant condition.”
— The Journal of Modern Craft

“[A] stellar collection of interdisciplinary essayists. . . . [T]his collection features full color illustrations, figures and photographs which not only clarify the processes and products referenced in the accompanying articles but also makes the book a joy to read, enhancing as it does the visual performance of the text itself.”
— Liminalities

“[A] timely response to contemporary art’s interest in craft, challenging the perception that artists choose media or their work with the mere wanton abandon of a child in front of a pick’n’mix counter. Instead, its various authors explore the complexity of art’s interaction with craft, making subtle note of those covering this terrain before.”
— Crafts

“Finally, a reason to put down the knitting needles. . . . Like a quiltmaker, Buszek has assembled a fine array of writers and topics. . . .”

“This volume fills a void in the scholarship that examines the meaning and the diverse roles that craft plays in the discourse surrounding contemporary art and social, political and popular culture bringing together the voices of artists, curators, cultural thinkers and scholars. Together these authors have opened the dialogue allowing craft to have its own voice and its own meaning, no longer defined by or against fine art.”
— Visual Studies