Made to Move & Bright Speck posters

The Handwerker Gallery presents:


Made to Move: African Nomadic Design

Curated by Assistant Professor Risham Majeed, Geneva Bielenberg (’17), Isabella Ionni (‘17), Vin Manta (’16), Lisa Peck (’17), and Nicholas Posloski (’18)

March 22–April 21, 2017

Women have built tents throughout the world for millennia. Nomadic women invented tensile structures, one of the three archetypal methods of spanning space, thousands of years before tensile structures were implemented in Europe and America in the 19th century. Our exhibition highlights this originality, rewriting a portion of architectural history by recognizing the contribution of women’s work to engineering and design. The solutions to desert life that these tents represent have endured for a long time; their unchanged qualities are a testament to how well problems have been solved. The tent is not only a home but an adaptable tool; each of its parts can be replaced and repaired from materials sourced in the desert or from the herd, making it endlessly versatile and dependable.

The exhibition presents the ingenuity of Rendille (Kenya) and Tuareg (Mali, Niger) women, two nomadic cultures that build entirely different kinds of tents: Tuareg tents are made from leather and are tensile, whereas Rendille tents are constructed from bent wood and use a self-supporting armature. Made to Move showcases objects that demonstrate nomadic women’s creativity in mastering one of the harshest environments in the world from the architectural elements of the tents themselves to sumptuously ornate bags and vessels that facilitate their frequent movement. Loan objects will be presented as emblematic of a larger nomadic ethos centered on modularity, flexibility, efficiency, and sustainability, values that are instructive for contemporary approaches to design.

The exhibition was conceived collaboratively by Professor Majeed and her students in an exhibition seminar, taught at Ithaca College in the Fall of 2016.

The exhibition presents loans form the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and a private collection.


Bright Speck: Desirée Holman, Anna Huff, Michelle Marie Murphy

Curated by Mara Baldwin

March 22–April 21, 2017

In 1972 the astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 likened the experience of looking back at the earth to seeing a blue marble hanging in the void.  The power of this vision is the awe-inspiring realization of both the complex fragility of our planet and our alienation from and connectedness to a vast, expanding universe. The artists in Bright Speck conflate the origins of life, knowledge, and the cosmos, each with uniquely textured responses. Michelle Murphy’s photographs and performances overlay the corporeal processes of pregnancy and birth with astronomical theory, drawing from her career as a photographer working for NASA and personal convictions for social reform. Desirée Holman’s long-term projects and culminating films present fantastical worlds of hybridity, where character play investigates and proposes social solutions our own world. Her culminating films, Reborn (2009), Heterotopias (2011), and Sophont (2015), present a narrative arc that builds towards an aesthetic iconography of harmonic convergence, and cosmic unity. Anna Huff’s work traces the intersections of the body, objects, and rituals by setting up improvised performances that encourage permeation of liminal space. Her primordial toddler-designed costumes and props included in Bright Speck will be activated by a performance featuring Ithaca College students on the evening of her artist talk on April 4. Utilizing critical optimism and creative inquiry, Murphy, Holman, and Huff travel between our world and the stars, catalyzing new possibilities of seeing, thinking, and wondering.