Exhibition Info

The Tool at Hand brings together artworks resulting from an unusual and slightly eccentric experiment. In the spring of 2011 the Chipstone Foundation invited fifteen contemporary artists to break from their usual practice and make a work of art with one tool alone. This exhibition presents these works 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 the work on view: hammer, saw, and a paintbrush. Others, such as designer Tavs Jorgensen and potter Michael Eden, used new or non-traditional tools, from reconfigurable pin molds 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.

Tour Dates

Further exhibition and programming information is available on each venue’s website.

Milwaukee Art Museum

December 8, 2011–April 1, 2012
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Philadelphia Art Alliance

January 30–April 29, 2013
251 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

June 1–September 8, 2013
4848 Main Street
Houston, TX 77002

Museum of Contemporary Craft

October 1, 2013–January 31, 2014
724 Northwest Davis Street
Portland, Oregon 97209

About the Chipstone Foundation

The Chipstone Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Fox Point, Wisconsin founded by Milwaukee collectors Stanley Stone and Polly Mariner Stone. Its mission is to promote scholarship in the decorative arts field through the sharing of its collection, as well as providing support to significant projects, programs and publications at different institutions. The Chipstone Foundation partnered with the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1999 in order to provide a broader audience with access to its objects and its innovative ways of presenting and conceptualizing the study of decorative arts. The foundation’s holdings of early American furniture, historical prints, British pottery and contemporary craft are creatively displayed and interpreted alongside the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. In addition to its collaboration with the Museum, Chipstone has a variety of exhibition related programs and social media initiatives. It partners with the University of Wisconsin- Madison in an effort to digitize decorative arts collections, provides video content on Artbabble, and publishes two annual scholarly journals, American Furniture and Ceramics in America.