Erinn M. Cox, writer and creator of online blog, Louise & Maurice
Ars longa, vita brevis translates to “life is short, but art lives forever,” though its original meaning was more akin to “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.” It is here that I begin an in-depth look into the meaning of craft, creativity, and the tremendous conceptual and artistic progress possible in the transformative style of education uniquely found in five of the leading craft schools in the US, including: Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley School of Craft, and Pilchuck Glass School, who have recently joined together to launch a national initiative celebrating the very importance of the craft school experience.
Craft is a loaded, five-lettered word. A verb, noun, and adjective that mean much to many and is often complicated to define as it both intimates and associates with art, material, technique, the hand, and community. It is, undoubtedly, all of these things; but it is, at its crux, a rich field of objects that serve as dynamic expressions of the human experience – icons that offer unique understanding of the world that connects us more deeply with ourselves and with each other.
Read more here.
Congratulations to Wendy Maruyama for being one of 2 artists named for the San Diego Art Prize 2015! We were honored to work with Wendy through her participation in the exhibit that launched the national craft school initiative last November. As a student, teacher and artist in residence, we loved hearing about her stories about how "The Craft School Experience" made an impact on her work as an artist! Read more about the Art Prize here.
Stuart Kestenbaum, Former Director Haystack Mountain School of Craft
“Man, if you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know.” Louis Armstrong, speaking about jazz
This morning I was getting something to eat before boarding a flight in Detroit. Airports don’t evoke a sense of the handmade, yet there in the cooler of the franchise sandwich shop was a “chicken Caesar handcrafted wrap” for sale. I know someone made it—in fact I may have just met the maker when she handed me change after I paid for my breakfast sandwich—but it didn’t feel to me that the word craft and that chicken wrap went together. It may be we define craft by what we know it isn’t. We use craft to connote both the highest human capacity for skill and or, in crafty, some sense of cunning or deceit. We often wonder how it compares to art—the sibling that Mom always liked better—and we distance ourselves from the potholder made from a kit—like the relative we don’t want to acknowledge.
So what do we mean by craft? It’s skill. It’s tradition and innovation. It’s learning to understand and know a material—clay, fiber, glass, metal, paper, plastic, wood—and being challenged by it at the same time. It’s a verb and a noun. It’s something that intuitively speaks to humankind—in the history and skill, and in the transformation of material. We feel a connection both to our deepest roots as makers and to our potential for ingenuity too.
What’s at the heart of the programs at Arrowmont, Haystack, Penland, Peters Valley and Pilchuck? It’s the opportunity to enter into a world where the studio is central. And in this studio you will find you have as much time as you need—to make discoveries, to try out ideas, to practice techniques. You can enter into a relationship with materials—where you and your hands are having a conversation. You will also enter into relationships with your studio mates, becoming a community of makers. Whether you have experience or are starting out, the rhythm and process are the same. It’s a story that is as old as humans as makers—understanding the materials of the world, transforming them and transforming yourself along the way as well. Sometimes we can predict what will happen. Other times we are completely surprised. It is both a practice and a journey. You can call it craft.
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.
Craft school directors celebrate launch of national initiative at Special Exhibit opening at SOFA Chicago. L to R: Kristin Muller, Peters Valley; Jim Baker, Pilchuck; Stu Kestenbaum, Haystack; Jean McLaughlin, Penland; Bill May, Arrowmont
Five of the leading craft schools in the US, including: Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley School of Craft, and Pilchuck Glass School have joined together to launch a national initiative at SOFA CHICAGO celebrating the importance of the craft school experience.
While maintaining the individuality and distinction of each organization, this dynamic collective is exploring the values, communities and opportunities that join them as a movement. Internationally-renowned instructors, intensive and focused studios, the time for exploration of other art forms, diverse student bodies and communities, and award-winning campuses with acclaimed exhibition spaces are just a few of their extraordinary similarities. Through their combined efforts they are working to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft by emphasizing their unique opportunities for students to be fully focused and present in a creative manner. Most importantly, though, there is an affirmation for this particular type of educational experience; which for many is thought provoking, inspiring and sometimes life-changing.
This interactive exhibit strives to capture the essence of the craft school experience by featuring the artworks of master teachers, resident artists, and students who have studied or taught at one or more of the participating schools. Surrounded by personal narratives, quotes, videos, and audio accounts, these works demonstrate the tremendous conceptual and artistic progress possible in this transformative style of education. From a variety of voices and first-hand perspectives, this unique exhibit highlights the connection between creativity and meaningful craft school experiences.
Presented artists include: Christa Assad, Raissa Bump, David Ellsworth, Arthur Gonzalez, Dante Marioni and John McQueen
Curated by Bill May, Director, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN; Stuart Kestenbaum, Director, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME; Jean McLaughlin, Director, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC; Kristin Muller, Director, Peters Valley School of Craft, Layton, NJ; Jim Baker, Director, Pilchuck Glass School, Seattle, WA.
Presented by Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley School of Craft, and Pilchuck Glass School in collaboration with Social Impact Studios
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