The Tool at Hand

December 8, 2011–April 1, 2012
Decorative Arts Gallery

The Tool at Hand brings together artworks resulting from an unusual and slightly eccentric experiment. Last spring the Chipstone Foundation invited fourteen contemporary artists to break from their usual practice and make a work of art with one tool alone. This exhibition presents these works, and the tools used to craft them, together with short, explanatory videos produced by each artist.

The artists represented in The Tool at Hand are established practitioners from the US and the UK and work in a range of materials. Silversmith Ndidi Ekubia, woodworker David Gates, and painter Joy Garnett all employed a traditional tool for their work on view: hammer, saw, paintbrush. Others, such as ceramist Caroline Slotte and designer Tavs Jorgensen, used new or non-traditional tools, from dental drills to customized 3-D printers.

For a group of artists who are accustomed to working with considerable tool kits, this commission presented an inspiring and thought-provoking challenge. Indeed, The Tool at Hand puts the skill and creativity of some of the most talented names in the art world today to the test. The exhibition showcases the wonder of the process of making and, at the same time, sparks an important conversation about the nature of skill, production, and tool use today.

  • Mark Lindquist, Dowel Bowl, 2011. Wood, dowels, glue.