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Broom Thing Ambient Object” by Stephen Burks: September Collection Highlight

The exhibition Stephen Burks: Shelter in Place explores ideas concerning domesticity — namely asking how we can design our interiors to enable joyful living while empowering creativity. For nearly twenty years, Stephen Burks and his studio Stephen Burks Man Made have been proponents of a pluralistic vision of design that is inclusive of all cultural perspectives.

Broom Thing Ambient Object, 2020, dyed broomcorn and sugar maple wood, designed by Stephen Burks (American, born 1969), manufactured by Berea College Student Craft, Berea College, Kentucky, established 1855, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Berea College Student Craft, 2022.74. Photo by Justin Skeens / Courtesy of Berea College Student Craft.

As a design consultant for Berea College Student Craft’s “Crafting Diversity” initiative, Burks began working with students in 2019 in all four craft workshops — broomcraft, ceramics, textiles, and woodworking. Burks’s mentorship within the Berea College Student Craft program was grounded in his ability to innovate traditional crafts to create modern, and sometimes experimental, forms. Broom Thing, which Burks created alongside these students, is a radical new expression of a broom as a nonfunctional object that reflects Burks’s early aspirations of becoming a sculptor. The brightly colored, ambient work embodies the transformative power of what is possible in craft when experimentation collides with tradition.

Watch as Stephen Burks discusses Broom Thing Ambient Object, 2020 in the film above. The piece is currently on view now in Stephen Burks: Shelter in Place.

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