Support The Polymer Collection at RAM

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin
I hear a phrase ringing in my ears: “Yes, we can!” It’s not Barak Obama’s voice I’m channeling, but my own silent incantations. As of today, I’m attempting to build a grassroots movement of our own, a coming together of polymer art advocates who gather at this site for what we might think of as a community organization project.

Because you’re reading this post today, you’re probably one of the faithful who have turned to this website again and again during these last two years, searching for historic information, or artistic insight, or inspiration for your own work. Every editor and contributor to this site has tried to provide those benefits for you, and in return we’ve asked for nothing except your good will.

Today, I’m seeking to turn your good will into action, an action that can provide benefit not only for you personally, but for the entire polymer art community that you obviously feel a part of. Let me first give you the background information, and then I’ll explain how you can become productively involved.[wpanchor id=”background”]

Background to the Project

Exactly fourteen years ago I joined a group of polymer artists who convened in Alexandria, Virginia for two days to discuss the future of polymer art. Lindly Haunani was there, and so was Cynthia Tinapple, Nan Roche, Maggie Maggio and Ellen Marshall among others.

A professional strategic planner lead our group through a series of exercises asking us to brainstorm about the future of our chosen artform.  At the top of my personal “wish list” was the mention of “a museum committed to collecting and exhibiting the finest works in the medium.”

Fourteen years ago, and I can still recall thinking that this seemed like a wonderful but unattainable dream. Remember that in 1995 the National Polymer Clay Guild had not yet engaged in any sort of professional development activities, and their first conference was still years away. That day in Alexandria I started to chew on an idea. Along the way, I invited a number of others to the table and together – slowly, slowly – we took steps toward that dream.

I’m delighted to be able to tell you today that in these last couple of weeks a wild idea from a brainstorming session all those years ago has come very close to full reality – with only one element, one essential component not yet in place. You’ll hear about that in the last three paragraphs of this post.

As of last week, the Board of Trustees at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin confirmed the museum’s commitment to establish a permanent collection of polymer jewelry, beads and sculptural objects.  As part of this commitment, RAM will not only focus on assembling a world-class collection of exhibition quality works, but they will also preserve study pieces for future research.  A small library will also be established to protect slide, print and catalogs for academic research.

Rachel Carren and I are already in talks with Bruce W. Pepich, Executive Director and Curator of Collections at RAM, to plan for an exhibition and hardcover catalog to accompany the collection.

Exhibition – catalog – archive – photography – curating – storage – staffing. All of this can’t be wished into existence. RAM will absorb a percentage of these costs, and its staff can write grant proposals to solicit additional funding. But vital funding for this enormous project will have to be raised through joint efforts of the community of polymer art professionals, enthusiasts, and you, the loyal and avid readers of Polymer Art Archive. If you weren’t loyal and avid, you would have never read through to this part of the post.

What You Can Do

For those of you who have shared my dream over these many years, that polymer art be given an honored space in museum collections throughout the country, I now ask for more than good will. You can help turn our collective dream into reality today, by making a donation to the Racine Art Museum. Your tax deductible contribution, made through the secure PayPal button below, will go directly into an account designated solely for support of the polymer collection at RAM.

Or send your check made out to RAM/Polymer Collection to:

Racine Art Museum
441 Main St.
Racine, WI 53403

I’ll report back to you periodically in future posts about the level of funding progress. Until then the chant will still be ringing: “Yes, we can….Yes, WE CAN!”

RAM at night and interior photos: Christopher Barrett, Hedrich Blessing, Chicago

RAM entrance photo: Laura Gillespie

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.

3 Comments on “Support The Polymer Collection at RAM

  1. Woot woot! Hip hip hurray! Yeeeehaaa!

    *Melanie does a major fancy Happy Dance*

    Brava, Elise! And Brava to everyone involved in this amazing effort. Polymer clay has another major feather in it’s bonnet, thanks to you and the gang at Polymer Clay Archive!

  2. You have have been an incredible crusader for the Polymer Clay Artists, and the medium in general. This is huge step in the history of polymer clay, and I thank you and all those who have participated in it’s arrival.

    My check is in the mailbox now.

  3. Elise, I am so happy that it has finally come to fruition for you, Rachel, and those who have supported your efforts along the way. I wanted to confirm that we at Cabin Fever Clay Fest also feel strongly about what you have worked so hard to achieve and will follow through with our commitment. All the best…you deserve it.