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Alexxa Gotthardt

Based in the Bay Area, Alexxa is a writer and historian specializing in stories about art, food, creative labor, and the spaces in which they overlap. Her work has been featured in Artsy, Elephant, Freunde von Freunden, and Surface, and her research centers on the forces that have inspired and sustained women artists throughout history.

Alexxa Gotthardt's Articles

Manitoga house designed by Russel Wright

An Exhibition Posits How Design Can Be a Steward of Nature and the Future

Last week, the Earth slid between the moon and sun, inciting a heady lunar eclipse that transformed our usual relationship with the sky. It’s almost cosmic timing for Manitoga, a stunning midcentury home turned design center that’s nestled between a granite quarry and a mossy slope in upstate New York. Just two days before the eclipse, the space’s doors opened for its latest exhibition, “Designing Nature” (through November 14). Fittingly, the first piece visitors encounter is the Eclipse Ceiling Lamp, designed by the contemporary Italian studio Formafantasma in 2016, which casts new, entrancing light on its surroundings.

Anicka Yi’s “Biologizing the Machine (spillover zoonotica)” (2022), on view at Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca. (Photo: Agostino Osio. Courtesy the artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca.)

A Potent Anicka Yi Exhibition in Italy Features Bacteria, Artificial Intelligence, and Dried Shrimp

Anicka Yi’s intoxicatingly sensory installations don’t just surround the viewer—many of them literally permeate the body, their scents seeping into pores and penetrating nostrils. Take “Immigrant Caucus,” a 2017 work by the Seoul-born, New York–based artist (who was the guest on Ep. 14 of our At a Distance podcast), in which three industrial steel tanks saturate the air with an aroma concocted by fusing secretions from carpenter ants with sweat samples from Manhattan’s Chinatown and Koreatown. Paired with a metal mesh gate, it’s an incisive meditation on Asian American identity, exploitative labor, and intolerance.

China hammered and chased gold neck ornament, 4th to 3rd century B.C.E. Mengdiexuan Collection, Hong Kong. (Courtesy L’École, School of Jewelry Arts)

How a Parisian Jewelry School Has Opened Up Access to a Rarefied World

The enduring relevance of jewelry in society and culture stems, in part, from its adaptability, but also from its intimate relationship with the body. Its form and function offer fertile grounds for innovation that can transcend personal ornamentation, such as the thick golden armlets worn by 7th-century women to fend off dishonorable men, or the 19th-century mourning rings worn as a tribute to lost loved ones.

Darrin Alfred. (Courtesy Denver Art Museum)

The Media Helping Curator Darrin Alfred Make Connections Between Art and Life

Darrin Alfred, the curator of architecture and design at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), has wrangled subjects as mesmerizingly niche as 1960s Bay Area psychedelic rock posters and high-fashion fabrics by textile designer Jacqueline Groag into inventive yet approachable shows. “One of the things I try to accomplish anytime we present design is to make it as accessible as possible,” says Alfred, who joined the institution in 2007. “We’re not just speaking to a design or architecture community. We want to remind the general public that they’re designers themselves—that they design their lives on a day-to-day basis.”

Installation view of “David Byrne: How I Learned About Non-Rational Logic.” (Courtesy Pace Gallery)

David Byrne’s Drawings Reflect on the Absurdities of Life That Connect Us All

Thick, wobbly lines branch out across a wall of Pace Gallery’s global headquarters in New York. Follow each stroke to its end, and you’ll find words like women, grandpas, and singers craning toward the ceiling, and donuts, hairs, and holes reaching into the ground. Part absurdist diagram, part heart-melting poem, and part consciousness-shifting artwork, this big tree acts as a delightfully uncategorizable introduction to “David Byrne: How I Learned About Non-Rational Logic” (on view Feb. 2–March 19), a restorative survey of drawings the musician has made over the past two decades.

Meech Boakye’s corn-on-the-cob broth. (Courtesy Meech Boakye)

Meech Boakye Explores the “Multispecies Collaboration” That Produces Our Food

In Canadian artist Meech Boakye’s hands, fermented cherry and plum blossoms become leavening agents for bread, soil from their backyard transforms into clay for encasing a baked chicken, and leftovers from past meals turn into turmeric, charcoal, and purple sweet-potato crackers. While Boakye’s Instagram documentation of these culinary experiments is mesmerizing, their focus on food is about much more than aesthetics: It’s centered on unpacking the deep, abundant relationships between the processes, systems, and life forms that shape what we eat. 

Nuno textiles book

How Japan’s Most Important Textile House Weaves the Past and Present into Its Fabrics

There is something universally comforting—deeply intoxicating, even—about petting a soft, warm coat, deep with pile. Maybe it’s the velvety hair of a newborn; a well-worn sweater, woven loosely with feathery fibers that soothe skin; or the silken pelt of a resident cat. Novelist and author Haruki Murakami described the latter in a 2001 short story titled Fuwa Fuwa ( “fuzzy,” in Japanese): “I reach out to touch the fluffy, soft fur, gently run my hand over the broad nape of the neck, the chill rounded sides of the ears, until finally the cat starts to purr. So nice to hear.”

Bartender Julia Momosé

The Slow, Intentional Art of a Japanese Cocktail

The beginnings of Julia Momosé’s deeply patient, intentional bartending practice can be traced back to one fateful night in Kyoto, Japan. It was her first time in a cocktail bar, which she entered via a concrete staircase swathed in soft, bright moss. Inside, away from the bustling city streets, a bartender in a white suit jacket methodically crafted her martini. “When he poured the cocktail into the glass, the sight was like a moonstone melting into its setting,” Momosé writes in her new book, The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes (Clarkson Potter), which she co-wrote with food-and-drink writer Emma Janzen. “With a flourish, lemon oils were expressed over the glistening jewel. […] It was then I knew I wanted to be a bartender. I wanted to provide that experience for other people.”