Large dark grey wood sculpture

Robyn Horn: Material Illusions opens this Summer at the Museum of Craft and Design!

June 25–October 30, 2022

San Francisco, CA (April 26, 2022) – The Museum of Craft and Design presents Robyn Horn: Material Illusions. This exhibition will be the West Coast debut of American artist Robyn Horn’s newest large-scale sculptures and paintings. Horn’s work mirrors aspects of natural environments while exploring the correlations between materiality and ideas that nature embodies.

Showcasing a large array of Horn’s latest work, much of which was created during the 2020 quarantine period, Material Illusions explores Horn’s interest in time, and more specifically how the passage of time relates to material, decay, and entropy. Horn’s practice has always examined the effect of time on materials; utilizing wood necessitates a strong embrace of time, as a tree’s age can change how effectively it can be carved and manipulated. For an artist who has been honing their craft with wood for over 35 years, time is measured not only in the hours, months, and sometimes years spent on a specific piece, but also in natural time–a slower process–in constructing their material.

Wooden sculpture
Robyn Horn, Blackchurch Rock, 2021, Redwood, 70” x 79” x 15”. Image courtesy of the artist.

Although Horn had been planning and creating work for Material Illusions for several years, the 2020 quarantine offered an unexpected period to focus on her practice. Realizing she was placed in an at-risk category, in part due to her age, the artist began considering time in a new way. Early on in her practice, Horn worked on the lathe, making wood bowls and vases which eventually evolved into carving wood sculptures. As her practice expanded, so too did the size of her pieces and the tools needed to create them, eventually utilizing a chainsaw to carve her raw materials. Material Illusions will showcase 11 sculptures, some standing as tall as 6 feet.

Abstract painting with copper, white and dark tones.

Robyn Horn, Our Perception of Time, 2019, Acrylics, rust, steel, and charcoal on plywood panels 63” x 288”.
Image courtesy of the artist.

Horn has always worked in series, making sculptures that share qualities of asymmetry, geometry, volume, lack of balance, contrast, and heavy textural qualities. Recently she has moved into painting and explored similar qualities in two dimensions. While the paintings employ an additive process (adding layers of paint) rather than the subtractive technique used in her sculptures, they consider similar themes found in her woodwork and rely on Horn’s unique exploration of surfaces. This demonstration of Horn’s technique can be seen in pieces such as Our Perception of Time (2020), which, with its overlays of rust, suggests a metaphor for natural processes and takes on a larger-than-life quality as it looms 24 feet wide by 5 feet 3 inches tall.

MCD’s Executive Director, JoAnn Edwards notes, “It is an honor to premier Horn’s bold and powerful work on the West Coast. Her irresistible kinship for material and process through chain-saw carving, scraping, and cutting, reveals secret crannies and the underbelly of her raw materials, as if turning the work inside out. Whether intimate or massive-scale, Horn’s approach to creating balance, scale, and spatial connections, has earned her a place in the pantheon of American art.”

Robyn Horn: Material Illusions will be on view at the Museum of Craft and Design June 25–October 30, 2022. A publication accompanying the exhibition, with essays by Janet Koplos and Lawrence Rinder, will be available online and in the Museum Store.

Robyn Horn: Material Illusions is generously supported by Fleur Bresler, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, The Feltus Family, Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., Anita and Ronald Wornick, Eleanor and Bruce Heister, Dana Martin Davis, Alyce and Steve Kaplan, Barbara Laughlin, Hal Nelson and Bernard Jazzar, Jamienne Studley and Gary Smith, and Barbara Waldman. Additional support is provided by Center for the Craft, Polly Allen, Lorene E. Lassiter and Gary P. Ferraro, Marion Fulk, Dr. Todd Herman and Mr. Harry Gerard, Mary Ellen Irons and Scott Bowen, Joseph Lampo and Dr. Terry Jefferson, Brad and Bobby Cushman, John E. Brown, Judith Chernoff, M.D. and Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D., JoAnn and Ken Edwards, Virginia McGehee Friend, Mia Hall and David Clemons, Tina and Albert LeCoff, and Rob Pulleyn. In-kind support is provided by Studio Hinrichs and Mark Richard Leach.

The Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibitions and programs are generously supported by the Grants for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Hunter Douglas and Dorothy Saxe.

Top Image: Robyn Horn, Blackchurch Rock, 2021, Redwood, 70” x 79” x 15”. Image courtesy of the artist.

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Press/Media Preview:
Friday, June 24, 2022 | 5:00 PM–7:00 PM

To RSVP for the press preview, schedule a private tour, interview requests, or for more information, contact Sarah Beth Rosales, Marketing and Communication Director, Museum of Craft and Design at sbrosales@sfmcd.org or 415.773.0303.

About Robyn Horn
Robyn Horn was born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, graduated from Northside High School, then Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. Her mother and sister are painters, and her interest in the arts was encouraged. After college, she worked in the typesetting field in Little Rock, then became chief photographer for Arkansas Parks and Tourism. After trying her hand at stained glass, she found wood. In 1984, she began working on the lathe making wood bowls and vases which eventually evolved into carving wood sculpture. Over the past 30 years, she has developed an aesthetic through studying the work of sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth and David Nash, as well as painters’ work such as Marcel Duchamp, along with Picasso and Braque’s Cubism.

About the Museum of Craft and Design
The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) is San Francisco’s only museum devoted to craft and design. Founded in 2004, MCD showcases designers, makers, and artists through an exciting and distinctive series of craft and design-focused exhibitions and public programs. Through inspired exhibitions and experiential programs, MCD explores the creative process and current perspectives in craft and design. Learn more at sfmcd.org.


Visitor Information
The Museum of Craft and Design is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 AM–5:00 PM and Sundays 12:00–5:00 PM. Masks will be required for all visitors and available at the front desk if needed. For more information on MCD’s safety policies and to purchase tickets visit sfmcd.org/visit.

The Museum of Craft and Design is located at 2569 Third Street (between 22nd and 23rd), in the historic American Industrial Center in San Francisco’s vibrant Dogpatch neighborhood. MCD is a North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) member, a Blue Star Museum, and participates in Museums for All and ROAM. MCD offers free admission to our nation’s active-duty military personnel, essential workers, first responders, and their families.

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