Exhibitions / Surf Craft

Design and the Culture of Board Riding

June 21, 2014 - January 11, 2015

Curator: Richard Kenvin

People have made surfboards for centuries. Standing alone, these boards are often striking examples of functional design. Together, they tell a compelling story about the evolution of an important American art form. Traditional craft, cutting-edge engineering and minimalist art converge in the Museum’s new exhibition devoted to surfboards built from the late 1940s to the present day.

SURF CRAFT is part of the AMERICAN ICONS Exhibition Series. Beginning in June 2014 and throughout 2015 the Museum will mount a series of exhibitions to celebrate the imagination, inspiration and innovation of Americans who have for more than three centuries created stunning works of folk art, craft and design – our shared American Icons. AMERICAN ICONS is generously sponsored by Just Folk.

SURF CRAFT – Design and the Culture of Board Riding opens on the first day of summer, June 21, 2014. SURF CRAFT will be a unique surfboard exhibition exploring board design from a previously unexamined perspective: in the context of Soetsu Yanagi’s mingei philosophy of the importance of craft. Through this lens, the exhibition will capture the influences behind American design in board riding, from the alaia boards of ancient Hawaii, to obscure surf bathing boards of England, Japan and Africa, to post-war hydrodynamic planing hulls of Southern California. Innovative board-shapers and surfers of the past and present will be highlighted, including legendary surfer Bob Simmons, who died at Windansea in La Jolla in 1954, and renowned San Diegan Carl Ekstrom.

Guest curator and surf historian Richard Kenvin will author the 176-page hardcover book of the same title – which will be co-published by Marquand Books and MIT Press and will include 150 historic and contemporary photographs.