August 26, 2016–January 8, 2017
Curator: Carla Sinopoli
In our society, we are taught to strive for and expect perfection. Yet throughout our lives, we learn as much or more from our flaws and failures as we do from our successes. Less Than Perfect celebrates failure and the lessons it teaches. Featuring objects that span more than 2000 years and four continents, this exhibition explores the stories they tell about their makers, their making, and their use.
The exhibition—with objects from the Kelsey Museum, the Museum of Art, and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology— is organized around three themes. Failed Perfection presents archaeological objects that failed in production to explore how researchers use them to study about ancient technologies. Deliberate Imperfection features beautiful and finely crafted objects whose makers deliberately introduced asymmetries or other imperfections into their products—and considers why artists choose to make imperfect things. Restoring Perfection highlights artifacts that were repaired in antiquity by people who strove to restore usefulness and beauty to broken or damaged objects.
Together these themes allow visitors to ponder the tensions between perfection and imperfection in their own lives and to explore how people in diverse cultures have addressed this divide.