Function + Fantasy, Mingei International Museum, San Diego


Mingei International Museum
1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
February 1 - May 27, 2014

Steven and William Ladd are brothers who base their artwork on shared childhood memories and thedeeply held values: “Spend your life doing what you love, Be focused and disciplined, Collaborate. ” Function + Fantasy features meticulously crafted jewelry, handbags, chandeliers, sculpture, prints and drawings by these New York–based artists.

This exhibition of objects created over the past 13 years traces the threads of function and fantasy in the Ladds’ work. The brothers create hand-sewn boxes, functional objects and sculptural works that suggest fantastical environments. For example, Water (2003) began as a handbag that evoked the qualities of liquid and light; it later developed into a stack of handmade boxes to hold the object. Here, preparatory drawings reveal the progression of this evolution, and brief videos provide a deeper understanding of the artists' work and context.

For this exhibition, the artists have created a new body of work: Join the Colony (2013), a Tower of nine boxes, each containing a field of purple scrolls and beaded applique.  Inside is a hand-loomed necktie—an intricately constructed object of use displayed in a fantastic world. Positioned throughout the exhibition, six videos running on iPads focus on aspects of the artists’ practice, philosophy and experience, as related to the art on view. The videos include footage of the artists at work in their New York studio, constructing and presenting objects, and collaborating with students. In conjunction with the exhibition, the brothers are hosting several “Scrollathons”—hands-on workshops in which children and adults learn about making art out of recycled materials—and these collaborative projects will be displayed in Mingei Studio.