Artists have an infinite array of tools in their arsenal – but what if that wasn’t the case? That’s the question posed by “The Tool at Hand,” an exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Alliance that challenged sixteen British and American artists to create a work of art using only a single tool. The results are diverse and surprising, from a vessel created via 3D printer with a Macbook Pro to a wax chair molded with the heat from an artist’s bare hands.
“Aesthetically, they’re all very different,” says Art Alliance chief curator Sarah Archer. “They range from objects that you probably wouldn’t think were the result of some bizarre experiment if they appeared in a different exhibition to others that are more mysterious or puzzling.”
“The Tool at Hand” was originally curated by Dr. Ethan Lasser for Wisconsin’s Chipstone Foundation, but Archer found the show ideal for the Art Alliance. “Like Milwaukee, Philadelphia has an interesting relationship with manufacturing and fabrication,” she says. “It has a rich history and a painful episode of decline, but it remains a real epicenter for designers and crafters and artists. So I thought it would be a great fit for Philly and for what we do.”