"Making Arrangements is an ever-changing configuration in glass positioned in relationship to a video projected on the wall. The woman in the video is endlessly moving two chairs in an empty room in pursuit of the perfect arrangement. The shelves of milk glass have equally been arranged to balance, flow, fill the eye and evoke an interest.
Milk glass is one of the most ubiquitous products to come out of the industrial age with its turn of the century designs continuing into the twenty-first century. First produced and marketed to the lower middle class homemaker as a substitute for more expensive porcelain, it is a white opaque glass with highly decorative surfaces and ruffled edges. The forms suggest practical, functional, utilitarian glassware but in actuality, most pieces were relegated to a display surface. From Early America style to bio-morphed Modern design, milk glass came into the home primarily through gift giving. This could render mostly women either helpless to avert the deluge or numbed by the assault but often they were caught up in the frenzy of collecting more. (As a child I thought the glass was ugly but conveniently when Mother’s Day arrived my siblings and I chanted “Lets get Mom's milk glass” even though I don’t think she really liked it.) Even Martha Stewart revived its status to collectable just as milk glass seemed to be finding its way to storage. Vases, goblets, vinegar cruets, ashtrays all poised, were rarely called into action but profuse in many homes. Finding the perfect arrangement involved the constant shuffling and repositioning on tabletops and in display cases.
For me, the obsessive accumulation of milk glass has the identity of an icon, not only for marketed consumerism, but also for domesticity. Milk glass with its curious cultural history presents an arena to reflect on our everyday actions that give us a moment of solace by putting things right in an uncontrollable world. Whether we live with few objects or collect many, we arrange. If we can find the right arrangement and create our space within the larger chaotic world, we think we can manage."
143 pieces, milk glass, digital video
Crit Streed was born in 1948 in Washington, Iowa, where she grew up. She received a B.A. in art from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, and her M.A. in painting and drawing and M.F.A. in painting and lithography from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Between short-term teaching positions, she lived and worked in Nepal from 1982 to 1984, and has participated in various artist residencies nationally and abroad. She has exhibited widely and is Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Northern Iowa, where she had taught since the 1980s. Recently, she completed a residency in Cadaqués and currently lives and creates in Cedar Falls, IA.
"My work is the essence of a sentient process used to survey recollection, place and sensation. It is a visual language to make an invisible reality tangible enough to arouse a moment of connection. It is nature, the nature of things and our own organic fragility, insecurity and persistence."