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Published on May 9th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


ReTooled Exhibition Crafts Beautiful New Narrative for Utilitarian Objects

Pictured Hans Godo Frabel, Hammers and Nails, 1980, glass. Photo courtesy of Edward Owens.

Groundbreaking 20th-Century Artists Illuminate the Subject of Tools with Wit and Wonder
On view June 2 – August 27, 2017

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art announces the summer exhibition ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, on view from June 2 through August 27, 2017. From the collection of American hardware-store tycoon John Hechinger, ReTooled features more than 40 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photographs that provide a dynamic entry point into the rich themes, materials, and processes of 20th-century art.

“John Hechinger was both witty and brave as a collector, and he believed we should be surrounded by art in our everyday lives,” says Catherine Walworth, CMA curator. “Thanks to his particular compulsion for tools, ReTooled is a fun and relatable experience with art. For diehard contemporary art fans, it’s an opportunity to see some of the most important postwar artists tackling a subject close to their hearts as makers.”

ReTooled celebrates the prevalence of tools in our lives with art that offers affectionate, sometimes playful, tributes to tools as functional objects. It profiles 28 visionary artists including major names such as Arman, Richard Estes, Jacob Lawrence, Fernand Léger, and H.C. Westermann; photographers Berenice Abbott, William Eggleston, and Walker Evans; and pop artists Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. The exhibition consists of four sections: Objects of Beauty, Material Illusions, Instruments of Satire, and Tools: An Extension of Self.

“For some artists in ReTooled, it’s about fine craftsmanship turned humorously on its head,” says Walworth. “For others, like feminist artist Phyllis Yes, the idea is to complicate notions of gender associated with tools. No two works are alike, even if they circulate around the same theme.”

Objects of Beauty highlights the notion that everyday instruments can be beautiful. In portraying these objects with a tone of reverence, the artists strip them of their utility, producing works that meditate on tools’ purity of design. These artists underscore the overlooked beauty of objects that improve our everyday lives.

In Material Illusions, artists modify and distort everyday tools to question their functionality. By reimagining a tool in a material that renders it useless, the artist separates form from function and changes the way we interact with that object.

In Instruments of Satire, artists repurpose, reframe, and redefine tools by injecting a dose of irreverent humor into an otherwise work-driven world; some juxtapose objects to create humorous dissonances. These works remind us of the joy and sense of play that defines creation.

In Tools: An Extension of Self, artists illustrate that tools have the capacity to actualize dreams, embody the can-do spirit that defines America, and symbolize our quest to improve our quality of life, both as individuals and as a society. Becoming surrogate limbs, tools compensate for our weaknesses and facilitate our greatest achievements.

ReTooled is a dynamic exhibition with a compelling mission: to celebrate an overlooked subject by engaging audiences with wildly creative and thought-provoking works that highlight formative trends of 20th century art.

“This will be a fun summer exhibition with a playful nod to our ongoing renovations at the CMA,” says Joelle Ryan-Cook, CMA deputy director and director of external affairs. “While tools will be fulfilling their function throughout the building, ReTooled offers visitors a chance to consider their value in other ways.”

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection is presented through the generosity of our sponsors and grantors. Presenting Sponsors: Rodgers Builders, Caroline and Kester Freeman, and the City of Forest Acres. Supporting Sponsors: Susan Thorpe and John Baynes. Friend Sponsors: AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, Cox Industries, Building Industry of South Carolina, and Cathy and Michael Love. Patron Sponsor: The Beach Company. Grantor: Richland County. Additional support for the CMA exhibition program is provided by Lipscomb Sponsors: SCE&G and Marcia and Allen Montgomery.

ReTooled was organized for exhibition by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C., from Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection, gift of John and June Hechinger.

ReTooled Programs and Activities:

Free and Ongoing: June 2 – August 27

Multimedia TAP Tour available on your computer, smartphone, or on iPads provided by the CMA.
Gallery Tour every Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Thematic Art Explorer Backpacks
ReTooled Members’ Lecture
Saturday, June 3 | Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Curator Catherine Walworth highlights the artists of ReTooled. The lecture delves deeper into the careers of these artists and how they fit into the shifting postwar contemporary arts scene. Free with membership or admission. Members have the first opportunity to RSVP for this event. Seating is limited. Not a member? Become one today!

Gladys’ Gang: Material World
Wednesdays, June 7 and 21 | 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Can art be made from wood? Metal? Other objects? We’ll be exploring art beyond painting as we discuss materials used in ReTooled and create our own multimedia works of art. Participants (ages 2 – 5) and their adult companions explore art through the introduction of elementary art terms such as color, line, shape, and texture during the Gladys’ Gang series. This program includes story time and a creative studio activity related to the art exploration theme. Free. Registration recommended as space is limited. Key topic: material.

CMA Summer Camps
Ages: 4 – 7 | 8 – 12 | 13 – 18
This summer, the CMA Art School is offering a variety of unique camps to capture the interest of any young artist. Having your child participate in our summer camps is a great way for them to think creatively, practice their problem-solving skills, and have fun. Below are camps relating to ReTooled. CMA Summer Camps are supported in part by Publix Super Markets Charities.

Camp Pricing
Ages 4 – 7: $150 / $120 for Dual/Family Members and above
Ages 8 – 12: $175 / $140 for Dual/Family Members and above
Teen full day: $285 / $228 for Dual/Family Members and above
The CMA also offers needs-based scholarships.

Lunch Buddies: All camps for ages 8 – 12 (except Clay Creations the week of August 8) have the Lunch Buddies option, which means that campers can stay from morning camp through afternoon camp. Lunch Buddies bring their own brown bag lunches, must be registered for both morning and afternoon camps, and pay a $25 fee.

June 12 – 16 | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Ages 13 – 18
Whether you’re already handy with tools or have never touched a saw, you’ll get a chance to hone your skills in the safety of the museum. Get a closer look at tools and 3D works of art in ReTooled as you get inspired to design and construct your own wooden objects. Projects for this class will range from small art objects to larger practical pieces like tables and shelves. Taught by local woodworker Alex Fulmer.

If I Had a Hammer
July 10 – 14 | 9:00 a.m. – Noon | Ages 4 – 7
Is a brush a tool? Can a hammer be used to create art? These questions and more will be answered when campers get creative with tools of the trade and make their own multimedia masterpieces inspired by works in ReTooled. Taught by CMA educator Kayleigh Vaughn.

July 10 – 14 | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Ages 13 – 18
Learn the basics of metalwork, forming, fabricating, and soldering different elements to create works of art with an edge. Participants will work with a range of materials to create sculptural works of art and take inspiration from the diverse metal sculptures in our ReTooled exhibition. Taught by CMA educator Dana Witkoski.

Sculpt, Carve, Build
July 24 – 28 | 9:00 a.m. – Noon | Ages 8 – 12
Explore the ins and outs of 3D design as you create your own sculptures with a range of materials. Get inspired in our ReTooled exhibition as we look at how artists use media in unusual ways and then make your own creative constructions. Taught by art educator Blakely Sheely.

Soda City Story Slam: Retooled
Thursday, June 15 | Doors open at 6:00 p.m. | Program starts at 7:00 p.m.
Back by popular demand, the CMA hosts our second annual Story Slam, a forum for sharing and discovery with a format based on The Moth podcast. In celebration of our ReTooled exhibition, local storytellers share brief, unscripted autobiographical stories on the theme of retooling, re-envisioning, and reframing – showcasing how the mundane or utilitarian can become artful. Prizes will be awarded by a panel of local judges. Shannon Ivey, MFA, a professional actor, activist, and lover of a good tale, serves as the evening’s host. Recommended for mature audiences. Cash bar. $12 / $10 members.

Are you one of Soda City’s emerging and seasoned storytellers? Contact our host at by June 2 to apply for one of 10 coveted slots. Be prepared to send a sample of your story for the evening.

ArtBreak: PBS’s The Woodwright’s Shop Host Roy Underhill
Tuesday, June 27 | Café at 10:30 a.m. | Talk at 11:00 a.m.
Roy Underhill hosts the how-to show The Woodwright’s Shop, a PBS staple for more than 37 years, and formerly served as the director of interpretive development for Colonial Williamsburg. He will give a talk in and tour of the ReTooled exhibition. ArtBreak is a program that looks at art through a different lens. Each session features a speaker who gives insight into their worldview by sharing their interpretation of works of art at the CMA. Begin the morning at the museum at 10:30 a.m. with pastries and coffee sold at the Curiosity Coffee pop-up café. Free with membership or admission.

Art School: Intro to Wood Burning
July 29 | 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The artists in ReTooled used tools as both implements and inspiration to create their art. In this workshop, participants will get a chance to do the same. Learn the basics of wood burning and explore the ins and outs of how to use a wood burner for outlines, shading, and creating a design of your choice. All tools and materials provided. Taught by local art educator Sara McGregor. $60 / $48 for members.

Passport to Art: Molding Metal
Sunday, July 16 | Noon – 3:00 p.m.
This month we’re talking all about sculpture! Join us as we create our own 3D metallic masterpieces. This drop-in studio program for families features a new hands-on art project each month. At 1:00 we’ll take a trip through the galleries to see what shiny sculptures we can spot. Free.

Gladys’ Gang: Tinkering with Tools
August 2 and 16 | 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Are there tools we use every day? Can tools be art? We’ll be looking at how tools are used in the ReTooled exhibition and then creating our own useful, artful objects. Participants (ages 2 – 5) and their adult companions explore art through the introduction of elementary art terms such as color, line, shape, and texture during the Gladys’ Gang series. This program includes story time and a creative studio activity related to the art exploration theme. Free. Registration recommended as space is limited. Key topic: Tools.

Passport to Art: Brush Up
Sunday, August 13 | Noon – 3:00 p.m.
In honor of ReTooled, this month we’ll celebrate the trusty paintbrush with an homage to this trademark tool. Join us to create and paint with your own retooled paintbrushes and get inspired at 1:00pm with a brush-centered tour of the exhibition. This drop-in studio program for families features a new hands-on art project each month. Free.

Arts & Draughts
Friday, August 18 | 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Art, drink, and be merry during Total Eclipse Weekend! Enjoy eclipse-themed beer tastings from The Whig, live music, unique perspective tours, and food from local food trucks, plus tours of and scavenger hunts inspired by the ReTooled exhibition. Richland Library, USC’s Ink & Paper, and others will be on hand with upcycling-inspired DIY activities. Cash bar. $9 / $5 for members.

For more information, visit
For hi-res images, visit
For more on International Arts & Artists, visit

About the CMA
The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. To learn more, visit


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