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.
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