The work of Alexandra Ben-Abba, Elana Herzog, and Armita Raafat denies craft objects and ornamentation their traditional function. Ben-Abba shatters glass vessels, Herzog tears apart fabrics, and Raafat breaks down the geometric modules in muqarnas. This panel discussion will focus on the shared choice among these artists to deconstruct craft objects and reveal the physical qualities inherent to the materials used to make them. Where does this impulse to deconstruct come from, why do these artists deny such objects their traditional functions, and what it is about these craft materials in particular that motivate their practice?
Alexandra Ben-Abba is a New York-based artist originally trained in glass and ceramics. Her work employs performance, video, and interactive installation as means to engage with process. Ben-Abba holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. She had a solo show at Slag Gallery in 2014 and her honors include a grant from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and a Bronfman Scholarship to the Pilchuck Glass School.
Elana Herzog is an installation artist who has been the subject of museum surveys and solo exhibitions in over 20 cities in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. She recently completed an installation at the Sharjah Art Museum, United Arab Emirates, and in September 2015 presented the solo exhibition, SHIFT; The Angel Of History, at Studio 10, Brooklyn. Herzog is the recipient of numerous awards including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and two NYFA Artist Fellowships. She has held residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne, Australia, the Farpath Foundation in Dijon, France, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in New York. She holds a BA from Bennington College and an MFA from Alfred University.
Armita Raafat creates abstract sculptures and site-specific installations that bring together intricate structures and patterns inspired by Islamic architecture and ornamentation. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Recent exhibitions include, “Sampling,” Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York and “The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society,” The Institute for Women and Art, Rutgers University. She has been awarded grants and residencies by Lower Manhat¬tan Cultural Council, Peter S. Reed Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and currently holds a studio residency with the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. Raafat holds a BFA from Al-Zahra University, Tehran and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Rebecca Pristoop is a New York-based curator and art historian. Since 2005 she has organized exhibitions in alternative and non-profit art spaces in New York City. Pristoop has worked in a curatorial capacity at the Jewish Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Tang Museum and is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her research and exhibitions. She holds an MA in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.