Last week marked the official kick-off of Alabama on Alabama—an art and design installation at Heath Ceramics’ Boiler Room space in the Mission. As the name suggests, the show features artwork and designs from a variety of Southern artists and creatives (it wasn’t until I gave my Uber driver the address of the Boiler Room—555 Alabama Street—did the name of the show fully make sense to me).
Aside from the installation being hosted by Heath Ceramics (one of the Bay Area design community’s most established and well-respected brands), the concept of the show was entirely alluring in its own right. Admittedly, Alabama was never a location that entered my mind as being at the forefront of the modern art and design movement and therefore this exhibit served as the most beautiful and humbling “shame on you!” I’ve ever received.
The installation features artwork from a range of Southern creatives like Butch Anthony, Rinne Allen and John Henry Toney, but most notably featured was the work of Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin (who has collaborated with Heath since 2001). As a leading pioneer of the “slow design” movement, each of her pieces—from quilts to textiles to clothing—are meticulously handcrafted to a degree that was actually difficult to comprehend. The amount of intention, craft, and detail that goes into every step of her process is truly impressive and results in some of the most intricate and unique pieces I’ve encountered.
The environment of the exhibit was also a sight to be seen. The handcrafted and finely detailed nature of these artifacts was rather poetically juxtaposed with the industrial factory setting of the Boiler Room—which originally served to produce steam for a commercial laundry business that operated in the building back in the day. The space’s high ceilings, natural light and ample floor space make it the perfect setting to showcase all forms of art, design, and craft.
On my way out, I perused the Alabama Chanin pop-up shop, currently being featured as its own section on Heath’s retail floor. The relaunched serveware line features pieces made with signature Alabama Chanin stenciling and come in the distinguishing shades of off-white and indigo that define the brand. Alongside the serveware sits other products, hand selected and curated by Natalie Chanin—each celebrating a part of the “refined, raw, and radical South”.
Alabama on Alabama is set to run through August 23rd so be sure to make your way over to the Boiler Room before then to see it in the flesh!
The Boiler Room is located at 555 Alabama St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Copy and images by Ali Hartwell for The Merchant Home. Please credit and link appropriately.