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Beyond the Gallery: "Tributaries: Venetia Dale"

The Metal Museum's Tributaries exhibition series began in 2008. The series features solo exhibitions from emerging and mid-career metal artists working throughout the United States. The Museum shows two to three Tributaries exhibits each year, all highlighting the careers of artists who are beginning to make a name for themselves in the metal arts community.

Our current Tributaries exhibit features the work of Venetia Dale, a metalsmith and sculptor. Venetia received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2004, studying under Lisa Gralnick and Fred Fenster, the Museum's 2018 and 2011 Master Metalsmiths, respectively. She then went on to receive an MFA from the State University of New York, New Paltz in 2009, studying under Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, the Museum's 2014 Master Metalsmith. Venetia completed an Artist Residency at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland in 2010 and an Art and Industry Residency at the Kohler company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2013. She currently teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, where she maintains a studio practice and lives with her husband and two children.

Image courtesy of Venetia Dale.

Venetia's exhibit is subtitled, Next after the first in order, place and time. Her work explores the way humans experience material objects and how that changes over time. In this exhibit, Venetia has focused on making "secondary objects" into primary forms. For her, a “secondary object” is one whose primary function is to aid another object. Examples in the exhibit include wall hooks, a shower caddy, window blinds, Styrofoam inserts and plastic baskets. The form and materials of these "secondary objects" are changed to make the viewer focus on the "object-ness" of each object. An excellent example of this is her installation piece, Touchmarks: The Social Life of Plastic Baskets.

Venetia Dale. Touchmarks: The Social Life of Plastic Baskets. 2011. Image courtesy of the Metal Museum.

Most people think of baskets as simply a means to hold other objects. They are cheap and easily disposable. To focus on the baskets, rather than what they might hold, Venetia has created this installation in pewter, which is the primary material used throughout the exhibit. The form is radically altered so that the composition requires prolonged looking. Suddenly, the idea of the baskets holding anything seems ridiculous. A secondary object has become a primary form.

Although the exhibit focuses on the idea of secondary objects, there is also a strong theme of domesticity throughout. Much of the work in the exhibit was created during the early years of her marriage. In the piece Inter:are, Venetia created two sets of intersecting window blinds made from repurposed copper roofing material. Inter:are is a common phrase used throughout Buddhist cultures to describe the idea of something being separate but together. We, as humans, are separate individuals, but we are part of the same whole. In this piece, Venetia applies the idea to marriage – two separate individuals coming together to make a whole, represented through the two sets of intersecting blinds.

Venetia Dale. Inter:are. 2015. Image courtesy of the Metal Museum.

Tributaries: Venetia Dale, Next after the first in order, place and time is on display in the Museum’s Keeler Gallery through September 9, 2018. Scroll through the images below to see more of the exhibit. To see more of Venetia’s work, you can visit her website.

To learn more about the Tributaries series, please visit the Metal Museum's website here.

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