Houston Center for Contemporary Craft will present What Happened Today?, an exhibition of newly created works by Arizona-based fiber artist, Ann Morton. Through two large-scale installations, Morton highlights the relevance of printed news and hand-crafted objects and their combined ability to communicate parallels among the voices of the individual, the greater Houston community, and the world-news stage.
The exhibition also includes Morton’s award-winning work, The Collective Cover Project. This installation utilizes randomly found objects to explore ideas of place, time and memories of events, as well as their effects on individuals and on social, cultural, and political aspects of society.
What Happened Today? is comprised of two community-based components. One involves commentary from the lives of Houston residents as they interact with their local newspaper by responding to a question about their day, and the other includes the collection of local and national events deemed worthy of the Houston Chronicle’s news cycle.
During the spring and summer of 2015, Houstonians responded to an ad in the Houston Chronicle by answering the question “What happened today?” on a 3-x-3-inch note and mailing it to HCCC. Individuals from all walks of life responded, from prisoners in Harris County jails and senior citizens to kids of all ages and immigrants starting to learn English. Responses were also collected from visitors to HCCC and from drop boxes in several locations throughout the community. Many of the responses are very moving, such as a man who “came out and kissed a dude” and a prisoner who missed his three kids. Through their anonymous notes, participants revealed the deepest, darkest and also happiest moments they experienced on any given day. For the exhibition, Morton will create a large hand-sewn quilt, comprised of all the notes collected throughout this period of time.
For the second part of the project, HCCC and Morton worked with a number of local community groups, university students, arts educators, senior centers, and service organizations to make hooked-rug squares made from newsprint strips of Houston Chronicle news events. Groups like Neighborhood Centers, Inc., and ARTreach came together to create the rug modules and share stories. Nearly 20 groups participated over a sixth-month period. Visitors to HCCC also participated in the rug-making activity at various events, including Museum Experience Day and HANDS-ON HOUSTON. Morton has created a floor installation from all of the collected squares by hand weaving strips of the Houston Chronicle into the rug.
The two project components combine to constitute what Morton considers “events, large and small”—the things that make people who they are and shape the lives they lead. While the rug installation acts as a visual condensation of newsworthy events, the quilt captures individual contemplation and commonalities. HCCC Curator Elizabeth Kozlowski worked closely with Morton for more than a year to help carry out the artist’s vision. She is thrilled with the results of the project: “Ann’s practice of engaging the community in the art-making process through traditional fiber techniques provides an opportunity for the collective voice of our community to share in the creation of an exhibition and to realize the physical and mental benefits of making.”
What Happened Today? is made possible by generous support from the Houston Chronicle.
Following the opening reception, the exhibit will be on display through January 3, 2016.