The latest in our partnership with the blog Louise & Maurice is a conversation first with Stu Kestenbaum, former director of Haystack, and then with artist Chris Staley.
Read Kestenbaum's thoughts on craft, and then you can check out the interview with Staley atLouise & Maurice.
Part 5 | Artist Chris Staley and The Family of Things
Elizabeth Busch wrote about the Haystack version of the Craft School Experience for our friends at Fiber Art Now!
Have you heard of “The Haystack Experience?”
Well, it’s real, it’s big, and it will make you want more! Haystack Mountain School of Crafts is for everyone who is interested in expanding, discovering, experimenting, playing, working in your craft medium and meeting new friends and old in an environment too beautiful for words. You’ll just have to come and witness those distant islands appearing out of the fog, feel the magic of a workshop session, hear the giant bell that means phenomenal food again and again. I’m not saying that a session at Haystack will change your life exactly as it has changed mine, but make no mistake, it WILL change your life and you’ll want more and more of it, come back again and again to have that ‘Haystack Experience.”
Click here to read the whole article or visitElizabethbusch.com for more about this great Craft artist.
The latest in our partnership with the blog Louise & Maurice is a conversation first with Jim Baker, director of Pilchuck, and then artist Charlotte Potter.
Here's Baker's thoughts on craft, and you can read the interview with Staley atLouise & Maurice.
Part 4 | Pursuing Self & Finding the Other: The Gestures, Incarnations, and Secrets of Artist Charlotte Potter
A one artist embodiment of the Craft School Experience, Jennfier Fleming has studied at Arrrowmont, Haystack, and Penland. Here's a write-up of her work in the Pensacola News Journal.
Written by Stuart Kestenbaum
A friend recently shared an article with me by Katherine Brooks in the Huffington Post, 14 Women Artists Who've Changed the Way We Think About Design. It’s a profile of Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The exhibit, which runs through September 30, looks at the contributions of women artists and designers to modernism. It includes women who were working in the 50s and 60s and also considers their successors in the craft and design fields working today.
As I scanned the lists of names, from that earlier generation—including Anni Albers, Karen Karnes, Toshiko Takaezu, and Lenore Tawney – to contemporary makers such as Anne Wilson and Vivian Beers, I was struck by something that so many had in common. It’s their relationship with intensive summer workshop programs.
Karen Karnes taught pottery at Haystack and Penland, as did Toshiko Takaezu. Lenore Tawney studied weaving at Penland and taught at Haystack. Anne Wilson has taught textiles at Haystack and been a visiting artist at Pilchuck. Vivian Beers was a resident artist for three years at Penland, studied and taught at Peters Valley, and, when she was a teenager, attended an intensive program at Haystack for Maine high school students.
While I know that these women have had many influences on their creative lives, I’m sure that the time at summer workshop programs played an important part. Karen Karnes first encountered salt firing when she was at Penland. I imagine Vivian Beer coming to Haystack as a teenager and seeing a world of possibility in working with materials. Each of these women got to spend time in studios away from the distractions of the everyday and focus their creative lives. They all had the uninterrupted time to work and equally important, to be in a community dedicated to craft.
The power of this combination of time, materials, and community goes beyond the impact on leading designers and makers. It influences so many who participate in our programs—amateurs and professionals of all ages and backgrounds—rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.
Written by Erinn M. Cox
Jean McLaughlin is one of most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. When you hear her speak, you are immediately drawn in by her intoxicating and contemplative passion to propel not only the vision and mission of Penland School of Crafts forward but also larger conversations about art, artists, craft, and craft education. Recently, I asked her What is Craft? She replied, “It is invention – it is the intelligence of the hand and body joined with knowledge of materials and skillful use of tools to realize an idea – it is an endeavor that has intrigued humankind for centuries and challenged us to be continually learning from the past to make something for the benefit of our species.”
Read more here.
Written by Monica Moses
Craft-school training is unique because of the opportunity to be utterly absorbed in a chosen medium for days at a time. At a craft school, “there is little else for you to do besides immerse yourself in what it is you’ve gone to study,” glass artist Dante Marioni testifies on the new website. “You live and breathe what you’ve chosen to go there and do.” With that sort of laser focus, artists can make huge strides, gaining skills as well as a renewed sense of community and purpose. It’s an experience described on the site as “thought-provoking, inspiring, and sometimes life-changing.”
Read more here.
Written by Erinn M. Cox
The second edition in this series begins after a recent exchange with Bill May, Executive Director of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, when I asked for some of his thoughts about craft. I launched with the big question to see where it would land, I asked, “What is craft?” May responded with “Craft is creativity made tangible, usually something that can be seen, sometimes something that can be used – and at its best, something that reflects respect and thoughtfulness in conception and construction. When successful, craft communicates in ways that engage the viewer or user on multiple levels, leading toward a respect for materials and for the individual maker’s skill and vision; and an appreciation of the courage and effort required to create an object and a meaningful life.” Continue reading here.
Written by, Ennis Carter
Founder and Executive Director of Social Impact Studios
For the past three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a class at Peters Valley School of Craft. It’s a weekend intensive called “Crafting Yourself…Online” and it’s all about helping artists share their experience and work with the big, bad world of the internet. Every year has been a great experience. Students have learned that digital technology is a tool just like the handheld ones mastered in their craft. And there have been a lot of “a-ha” moments about connecting to community that helped free them from the common aversion to sharing their work online.
But this year’s class was very different from the last two years. It was more pinpointed and focused on actual making with only a fraction of the time spent on theory. It was more customized so each person excelled at their own individual level. And it was surprisingly more tiring than the years when I think we covered more ground. What was different? It wasn’t the skill level or the willingness of the students. It wasn’t the tools themselves or even the way I taught them. I think the big difference this year was that I had a much deeper understanding of what “The Craft School Experience” is really all about.
For the last year and a half, I have been immersed in a national campaign to promote five craft schools from across the U.S. At Social Impact Studios, we know that the best marketing isn’t marketing at all – it’s mission-work, it’s storytelling and it comes from the true values that are at the heart of every organization and effort. So, when we lead a campaign we always start there to deeply understand what is at the core. What we often discover is that the organizations we work with need to dig deeply to uncover those core elements - especially if it’s a coalition effort – and are refreshingly reminded of the most important things that make their work meaningful. Through several in-person meetings with leaders from Arrowmont, Haystack, Penland, Peters Valley and Pilchuck, I was lucky to be part of meaningful conversation about the shared values at the heart of this unique educational experience. Values like “respect,” “growth,” “generosity,” and “process,” – among so many others – resonated with me personally and informed the creative direction for a public campaign. Through developing the campaign, visiting schools first-hand to talk with students, teachers and staff, I got to see those values in action and absorb, slowly, the unique qualities that join these schools together.
The class I teach regularly at Peters Valley is designed to be a weekend intensive survey course to help people jump into the world of online communication to share their work and connect with people who may be looking for what they do. It’s a big task because so many people who gravitate toward the world of craft are seeking something deeper, more in-touch, and less superficial than the way most of the internet is used. The approach in the past has been to expose students to a wide variety of outlets and have them dabble and test out options while learning key theory behind how these tools are best used. It’s worked to help people feel a little more comfortable and to “get started.”
But this year, I was determined to help every student MAKE something. Through “The Craft School Experience,” I’ve learned how important that aspect is to sparking interest, creativity and building skill toward mastery. This year, I wanted my students to have a deeper connection that was relevant to their story and come out on the other side with a sense of accomplishment and self-empowerment to keep at the work after the weekend ended. Yes, I did want everyone to build their websites (which they did!) and tap into social media at whatever level was comfortable for them (which they did!), but the driving force for my teaching this year was definitely more grounded in the connection those activities have to each student’s need to share their work with the world – because they had invested the time and love in making it.
It might have been easier just to teach the class the way I had in previous years. But I really couldn’t do that knowing what I know now.
The genie was out of the bottle and I had to transcend the idea that the class was an intensive opportunity to cram lots of info into the heads of people so they would logically understand how to move ahead through this medium. Sure it qualified as “immersion” – but whether it made a lasting impact, I’m not so sure. Instead, I tapped into the true spirit of The Craft School Experience – a value of direct hands-on experience that takes time, focus and tenacity to learn something new and express yourself.
It was a more exhausting weekend for sure this year. New technology of any kind is tough to teach, especially in a short period of time. But, in the end, I’m glad that I made the time for people to make something that was really meaningful to them. Next year will be even better!
Visit a Craft School!