Project Ten Ten Ten

After more than 70 years as a groundbreaking institution, The Mint Museum added a second location in the heart of the city. In honor of the new Uptown space’s grand opening in October 2010, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design commissioned 10 of the world’s most innovative craft and design artists to create works, some of which were site specific and others that were off site. They called it Project Ten Ten Ten.

2012.80A-B_vdThe Mint Museum

When Mint Museum Uptown’s doors opened in 2010, visitors saw spectacular works installed in the Craft + Design galleries from some of the world’s most inventive artists, including Danny Lane, Ted Noten, Joseph Walsh, and Hildur Bjarnadóttir. Each of the 10 commissioned artists demonstrated innovation in glass, ceramics, wood, jewelry, furniture, lighting design or fiber art. 

Threshold (2010) by Danny LaneThe Mint Museum

This monumental glass sculpture is named for its location at the threshold of the craft and design galleries at Mint Museum Uptown, guiding visitors in. Its 800 stacked sheets of glass undulate in front of colored glass objects made in Lane’s studio, as well as pieces of wood. Danny Lane describes it as a sculpture to be experienced: “The viewer activates it. As you walk by, things appear to move. Really, I think the purpose in making art is to make something…that elevates the soul.”

ThicketThe Mint Museum

Thicket is located on the Sally and Bill Van Allen Terrace near the entrance of Mint Museum Uptown. Inspired by the history of blacksmithing, Thicket is composed of stainless-steel rods and clusters of cast iron hammer heads. For blacksmith and sculptor Tom Joyce, hammers symbolize “an inherent potential embodied within all tools employed in the hands of makers.” The hammer heads are made from a unique alloy that includes steel filings and iron grindings reserved from nearly all of Joyce’s hundreds of projects, which often used recycled metal. Thus, Thicket carries the “molecular memory” of cultures from around the world.

Susan Point. 2012.107A-IThe Mint Museum

Salmon Spawning Run, by Susan Point, is installed in the wood gallery at Mint Museum Uptown. This red cedar roundel features carved and painted salmon and clusters of eggs. Much more than stylized images of animals, the salmon characters reflect the great significance of the salmon as giver of life to the Musqueam First Nation, as well as shared universal concerns of preservation of the environment and sustainability. The vibrant eggs complete the fish’s lifecycle, as the renewal of wild salmon (still caught using traditional methods) is critical to keeping Mother Earth in balance.

Passage Waterway by Tetsunori KawanaThe Mint Museum

Inspired by the natural cycles of life, Tetsunori Kawana emphasizes the simple beauty of his chosen material, Madake bamboo. For Project Ten Ten Ten, Kawana created Passage: Waterway, a site-specific, temporary bamboo sculpture that embraced the philosophy of impermanence. Standing 20 feet tall and 82 feet long and undulating like a winding stream, Passage: Waterway, installed on the lawn in front of Mint Museum Randolph in August 2011, offered visitors a pathway for contemplation and sensory experience. Kawana based its design on the five traditional elements of nature: Earth, Water, Fire (the Sun), Wind, and Sky. He intended the visitor’s five senses to interact with these five elements, saying, “Only when this happens is my work really complete.” Each encounter with Passage was unique; the sculpture began as green bamboo and gradually weathered to gray-brown as the seasons passed. After spending a year in harmony with its lush, green setting, Passage reached the end of its life cycle and was removed in August 2012, in keeping with Kawana’s wishes.

Slow: Eleven Women and 400 Daisies Slow: Eleven Women and 400 Daisies by Noten, TedThe Mint Museum

Slow: Eleven Women and 400 Daisies was inspired by the Mint Museum Auxiliary, who generously funded its creation. Ted Noten spent time with the group, whose members are mostly women, during a February 2010 visit to Charlotte. He viewed them as “strong women, self-aware and intelligent” but also possessing a sense of humor. Noten’s experiences prompted him to think about the character of the American woman today, and he made Slow: Eleven Women and 400 Daisies as an homage to the Auxiliary and to all American women.

Slow is at once sculpture, design and jewelry, and functions both within the gallery space and outside it, on the bodies of jewelry wearers. Its gold-plated bust is a stylized portrait whose features are a composite of eleven iconic American women: Lucille Ball, Ava Gardner, Mia Hamm, Grace Kelly, Annie Leibovitz, Michelle Obama, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Oprah, Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, and Rosie the Riveter. Covering this bust are daisies created with a 3-D printer and attached with magnets. These daisies are brooches that are awarded to Auxiliary members for their service. As they are gradually removed over the course of 10 years, the gold bust will be revealed. The title Slow is ironic: although the daisies are created via a rapid-prototyping method, the work will evolve slowly, and will not be complete until all the flower brooches are dispersed among the Auxiliary’s membership.

Enignum MotionThe Mint Museum

This console is the first functional piece created from Irish cabinetmaker Joseph Walsh’s Movement series. Made of bleached and white oiled ash, with green lacquer details, Enignum Motion uses light and shadow, positive and negative space, to give the appearance of movement, and includes an actual moving element: a row of articulated wood slats on its top can be raised and lowered as one unit. Enignum, a word coined by Walsh, combines “enigma,” meaning “mystery,” with “lignum,” the Latin word for wood.

2014.30A-JThe Mint Museum

Cristina Córdova’s figural sculpture, Preludios y Partidas, commands a wall at one end of the ceramics gallery on Level 3 at Mint Museum Uptown. Of this subtle yet powerful psychological work, Córdova says: “In understanding this piece as a metaphorical topography, I wanted to use the title to hint as to what that corresponding psycho-emotional space would be. This landscape is one of transition and like the reference to the distillment of reason and logic from uncertainty and chaos, these figures are in the preliminary charged states (preludios) before a great action (partidas). Although the floating concrete elements could hint of the residual vestiges of a previous reality, I am not thinking of it as further leading to an ending but to the beginning of a new cycle. Common to the human experience are profound shifts where the ground gives way and one is thrust into powerful periods of self-reflection, growth, and renewed vision; this is how this space looks in my mind right before the next grand launch."

2012.80A-BThe Mint Museum

Ayala Serfaty’s evocative light sculpture, Joy of Transition, adorns a corner of the Design Gallery on Level 3 of Mint Museum Uptown. Delicate, ethereal, and fragile, this sculpture is made from glass rods individually heated with a torch and formed into abstract shapes that evoke the natural world. The glass forms are sprayed with a polymer coating and lit from behind so that they glow from within.

2012.80A-B_vdThe Mint Museum

Joy of Transition is part of a series of light sculptures called SOMA—the Greek word for the human body, chosen to suggest the sculptures’ connection to living beings. The title has many possible interpretations, including the evolution of art, craft, and design, and the opening of the new building at Mint Museum Uptown in 2010.

2010.64A-KKThe Mint Museum

Urban Color Palette, Charlotte, offers a visual representation of the value of that which is usually overlooked and neglected. Hildur Bjarnadóttir visited Charlotte in March 2010 and gathered local plants from roadsides and vacant lots near the Urban Ministry, an interfaith organization in Uptown Charlotte that aims to end homelessness. Then, she boiled the plants to create dyes that she used to dye wool yarn from Icelandic sheep, using the lobby of the former location of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design as her studio, allowing visitors to ask her questions as she worked. Although usually considered weeds, the plants she gathered yielded a remarkable array of colors, such as off white, yellow, brown, and red, as seen in the squares and rectangles that she crocheted from the yarn in Iceland and ultimately installed on a wall of the Bresler Family Fiber Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown. The plants included clover, dandelion flowers, and chickweed, among others.

Mr. and Mrs. Tutti AtomicThe Mint Museum

For Kate Malone, pots are like people and people are like pots—vessels ready to be filled with knowledge and friendship. Inspired by her world travels, the people she meets and the growth processes of nature, Malone aims to convey energy, vitality and optimism in her ceramics.

Mr. and Mrs. Tutti Atomic capture the feeling of family, community and fun that Malone sensed as the honoree at the 2011 Founders’ Circle Gala at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, which sponsored this Project Ten Ten Ten commission. Mrs. Tutti Frutti, a short, sturdy, and vibrant pot meant to convey a life force and the promise of growth, had already been conceived when Malone visited the Mint. She was struck by the sense of family and fun at the institution, and knew that Mrs. needed a Mr. Mr. Atomic, although taller, does not dominate his clay wife. His muted colors and more attenuated form provide a balance—the couple truly completes each other. Malone sees her creations as two separate entities coming together, where one plus one somehow equals three (three, of course, being the Mint Museum).

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