Peters Valley promotes craft experience online
Posted: Jan 30, 2015 12:29 AM EST Updated: Jan 30, 2015 12:29 AM EST
By GREG WATRY
SANDYSTON — Listening to Bruce Dehnert, of the Peters Valley School of Craft, one can tell that his artistic pursuit is driven by passion. And after 15 years at Peters Valley, he still finds things to be in awe of.
“When I'm around the instructors here, I feel like I am back in college,” he says on an audio recording available at The Craft School Experience's website. “I feel like a neophyte.”
Dehnert, head of the school's ceramics department, is one of six artists who share their craft school experience via the website, launched to coincide with a two-year initiative meant to promote the experience and offerings from a consortium of craft schools around the nation.
“We thought that a website would be a great portal for people to go to and start thinking (about) what is the craft school experience,” said Kristin Muller, executive director of Peters Valley. “There are only a few places in our country like Peters Valley.”
Joining forces with Tennessee's Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Maine's Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, North Carolina's Penland School of Crafts and Washington's Pilchuck Glass School, Peters Valley, while maintaining its individuality, is exploring values, communities and opportunities that join it together with the other schools as a movement.
It's been a three-year journey to this point. Muller first broached the topic of forming a coalition with Penland's director. Later, she and the other craft school directors met at San Antonio's Southwest School of Art & Craft for two days of brainstorming.
Commonalities were found, including the schools' penchants for offering unique opportunities to work with new and established artists, and their immersive education models.
The group contacted Ennis Carter, the founder and director of Social Impact Studios, to help craft their message and get the initiative rolling.
“Social Impact Studios is a creative hub for promoting important social issues,” Carter said, noting that the organization specializes in outreach, marketing and movement building.
“It's not just about awareness,” Carter said. “It's about clarity and about (promoting) what's special” about each of these schools and telling their stories, she said. But “the most important stories are the stories about the artists themselves.”
The initiative was launched in November at The Sculptural Object and Functional Art expo in Chicago. Muller said more than 150 galleries from all over the world gather at the event, which provides networking opportunities for artists and galleries. At the event, The Craft School Experience highlighted seven artists from across the nation who studied and taught at two or more of the participating craft schools.
“We did a big presentation of the campaign and a panel discussion, which was met with a great deal of support,” Muller said. “It's been a really great conversation starter, and we're hoping to expose people to this way of learning and these opportunities.”
Along with artist testimonials, The Craft School Experience website offers snippets about each participating school and helpful links to get prospective students started on their artistic journey.
To check out the schools, go to: www.CraftSchools.us.
Greg Watry also can be contacted on Twitter: @GregWatryNJH or by phone: 973-383-1184.
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