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Indepth Arts News:

"Tupperware® Party: Past, Present, Future"
2003-01-26 until 2003-03-21
Columbus College of Art and Design
Columbus, OH, USA United States of America

Designers are visual artisans who create functional works of art. With the not-so-simple desire to create the world's most useful and aesthetically pleasing life-enhancing products, industrial designer Earl Tupper made an American cultural icon-Tupperware®. Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is proud to present Tupperware® Party: Past, Present, Future, an exhibition that explores and celebrates this design product as functional art.

From January 25 through March 21, 2003 in CCAD's Canzani Center Acock Gallery. Tupperware Party will include more than 50 years worth of Tupperware designs and memorabilia. Tupperware products-including Wonderlier® Bowls, Bell Tumblers, Jel-Ring® Molds and designs produced in limited quantity and only represented in museum collections-will be displayed in real-world settings designed for the gallery. Period refrigerators and table settings will show the designs in the context of their use, while the gallery space underscores their cultural and artistic attributes.

In addition to Tupperware products, CCAD's exhibition will include design sketches, recipe cards, photographs, How-to-Sell guides, and other promotional materials provided by the Smithsonian archives. This wealth of material relates the design art objects to their place in the American market and subsequently to American identity.

At a time when materialism was taking a new hold on the American consumers' psyche, Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise created marketing and sales techniques that have left in indelible mark. Noting that to sell Tupperware the buyer must see it demonstrated, in 1948 Tupper and Wise gave birth to the Tupperware Party-now a permanent part of America culture (not to mention the American lexicon).

Though the exhibition places a seemingly common object in a much broader artistic and cultural context, the impetus to create this exhibition came from a simple need to represent in CCAD's exhibitions programming the genius and creativity of industrial design.

"Industrial design was generally underrepresented in our exhibitions programs," said Director of Exhibitions Natalie Marsh. "When CCAD alumnus Scott Miller (former industrial designer for Tupperware) approached me about participating in our visiting artist program, his enthusiasm for his work inspired me to think bigger. My research showed that Tupperware is generally represented in exhibitions that explore industrial design or American culture, but the product and its place in Americana is seldom the main focus of a show-I saw a fascinating and fun educational opportunity."

To further explore the many influences of the Tupperware phenomena, CCAD will host a panel discussion, "Parties Are the Answer!: Tupperware® Design, Cultural History, and American Identity," January 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. In addition, the exhibition is organized with hands-on activities to appeal to children and tactile learners.

The Canzani Center is located in downtown Columbus, Ohio on the corner of Cleveland Avenue and E. Gay Street (just south of the 100-foot-tall sculpture spelling ART). Acock Gallery hours are daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

Tupperware® Party: Past, Present, Future, is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Key Bank, and the Junior League of Columbus. The "Parties Are the Answer!: Tupperware® Design, Cultural History, and American Identity" panel discussion is sponsored by Time Warner Cable, Kimball Midwest, and the Ingram-White Castle Foundation.

Tupperware® Party is organized by CCAD and curated by Natalie Marsh, CCAD Director of Exhibitions.

Damigella Collection,
Series 1, Box 2,
Archives Center, National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

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