October 29 2018

This year’s Guest Artist Program at the 2018 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show will feature 26 artists from Germany, thanks to the support of Bundesverband Kunsthandwerk Berufsverband Handwerk Kunst Design E.V., a nationwide German organization of professional craftsmen, designers and artists.

The group of German artists is an impressive one, including Horst Max Lebert, a jewelry artist who was commissioned by the Met Breuer to create a jewelry collection that responds to the legacy of Marcel Breuer. This collection is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His designs are made from silver, gold and other precious materials and are designed to evoke in the wearer.

Artist Wolfgang Olbrisch creates leather handbags for women who seek a stylish option for every occasion: office, casual, evening and everyday use. His bags are made in a variety of sizes and are designed for both function and the spirit of the woman wearing it.

 

Artist Sabine Stasch is trained in millinery and textile design and uses her skill to create wearable yet elegant head coverings. Her unique pieces include hats, bonnets and headpieces.

Artist Katharina von der Marwitz is a jewelry maker who began her career as a ceramicist, which is evident in her jewelry. Primarily sterling silver, she incorporates copper, stones, bones and glass as well as handmade china.  

To read about all of the German artists and to see examples of their work, click here.

Interested in meeting the German Artists in person? Get your tickets to this year’s show here.

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October 22 2018

Susan Lenz is a South Carolina-based fiber artist. Her unique installations and innovation with her craft have earned her attention across the nation.

Tell us about your background.

I am a mainly self-taught artist working with fibers. This is my third year participating at the Craft Show.

What influences your art?

Many things have helped shape my taste and techniques over time, influencing my art. I am heavily influenced by architecture, as I create my work to have a sense of a building. I love the work of Austrian Architects, and the concept of individualism. I identify with the idea that your home should reflect you, and with my work, I get to create art that reflects people. It is important to make a space unique and represents who truly lives there. I use a lot of colors, and no straight lines. I am fascinated by stained glass windows, and each of my series are related to windows in some way.

What lead you to focusing on fiber?

I like taking old and neglected yarn from yard sales and auctions and make art out of it. I have a sense of purpose in taking these unwanted and unused materials and create something new and useful.

Is there a general process you follow for creating your work?

There are three main stages in my process: cutting polyester and fusing it down, sewing it, and melting and soldering iron holes. My work also requires a lot of prep, breaking down fibers, as they come in all different forms.

What piece of work are you proud of?

I have a piece featured in the Textile Museum in Washington, DC called “Wasted Worlds: Global Warnings.” It is featured as part of the permanent collection of the museum.

How do you connect with your clients?

I have had a blog since 2006! It is a way for clients to be able to see what I am working on and see my process. It’s called “Art in Stitches,” and highlights different projects I am working on, and lets people better understand the purpose of my work. I can post my projects online, and let people see all aspects of the artistic process.

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October 15 2018

Ashley Buchanan is a high-end jewelry artist from Atlanta, Georgia. Her contemporary work and unique style earned her a coveted spot in this year’s PMA Craft Show.

Tell us about yourself and your art background.

My father and grandfather were both carpenters, inspiring me to pick the art / craft route in life. I attended the University of Georgia out of high school, and right away, I knew I wanted to study art. I first came in as a sculpting major, but after a summer studying in Italy, I realized my passion for jewelry making, and I have never turned back from there.

You mentioned that you realized your passion for jewelry in college, why jewelry?

I often joke that jewelry is the “Gateway Drug” of collecting art—wearing it can make it become a conversation piece, and help start developing a new love for art. I also love that it’s mobile, and lets you bring art wherever you go.

What influences your work?

I am influenced by many things that have surrounded me in my life. My work is contemporary but uses familiar materials like pearls, lace and ornamentation. I like to use a familiar color palette. When I first started out I couldn’t afford to use super expensive materials like precious stones, so my work took shape in non-traditional materials.

What does your day-to-day look like?

I usually start with the business end, answering work emails and online orders, and then transition into my studio. It is important to mix the business aspects into your day, as being in the studio can be isolating.

Do you use social media to promote yourself?

Yes! Instagram is the biggest, but sometimes I use Facebook too. I try to create client/artist relations to connect with my clients. I think it makes the art more special when you get to know the artist more, and social media is the perfect way to give clients a look into my life and process. I also get the chance to tell people what shows I will be doing. I try to do between 12-16 shows a year.

Why do you enjoy showing your work at the PMA Craft Show?

The attendees of this show appreciate what they are seeing. They get excited to see new and unique work, and truly get what it means to patron the arts.

What should someone know prior to attending the PMA craft show?

Artists all approach jewelry making differently—you can look at 100 pairs of earrings, and they are all different, and that to me is what makes it cool. I love knowing the products I sell are made by me, and all the artists that will be there have a very important place in our society’s culture.

 

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October 08 2018

Josh is a glassmaker who is interested in color and the relationships it creates within his designs.

Tell us about yourself and your art background.

I am an artist/craftsperson who has been making work using hot glass for the past 20 years. In high school I was more interested in art-making than any other subject, from there, I went to The Massachusetts College of Art and stumbled upon glass blowing. After graduating, I took a job with a gentleman who designed and built furnaces and other glass blowing equipment that he sold to customers around the world. The main reason for taking this position was to learn for myself how to build the furnace equipment for a studio of my own someday. That happened about 12 years later, when my wife and I found an unfinished house with some land in southern Vermont and put up our own studio building where we currently make our work. 

What influences you and your work?

I have always been interested in color-relationships. How does one color look juxtoposed with another, and/or how do 3 or 4 colors all work in harmony (or not) in the same piece? I’m always asking myself those questions in my work. I’m influenced by color-relationships I see out in our world, and in my daily surroundings, and at least subconsciously choose colors for some of the things I make in glass based on those experiences.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Carlo Scarpa. He received most of his fame and notoriety for his work as an architect, but he started his career as a designer/artistic director employed by two of the many glass factories in Murano, an island in the Venetian lagoon famous for a long history of glass making.

What do you do day-to-day in your studio?

Most of my time is spent just thinking about ideas, color-selections, and the steps and processes I might go about in the making of those ideas once I’m in front of the furnace. After the brain storming process, I spend a lot of time on prep-work to achieve the pattern and line-work I’m looking for in my finished pieces. Parts of the process would be done at the furnace, then allowed to cool, then cut and/or arranged somehow, and reheated and manipulated again, sometimes multiple times.

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September 26 2018

Ann Everett is an Irish-born, Chicago-based artist whose fashion line embodies luxury, intelligence and a touch of humor.

Tell us about your background.

I am from Ireland, and ever since I was a kid I have loved fashion and clothes. I never really liked fitted clothes, so I would cut up the clothes I had and create my own things. Over the years, I have moved around a lot, and I made clothes that I wanted to wear, and others wanted to buy them! After moving to Chicago, a seamstress told me to take this seriously, and I did. I started out with one rack of clothing in my home, and every time I wore something out of the house, people would purchase my designs right off my back, and away I went. Today, I have my own studio and showroom in Chicago.

What influences your work?

I am really inspired by Japanese fashion and art, as well as architecture, especially in the US. I specialize in one of a kind pieces.

How do you choose a material for a piece?

Well I love nature fibers like bamboo, wool, cottons and linens, and I usually let the fibers inspire me, and then from there I figure out what to create. I don’t really do a lot of sketching beforehand; I usually like to have the materials give me inspiration. I love to use high quality fibers, and from there go into the design process.

What does your studio day-to-day look like?

Well, I always work out first. Then I will come to work, and powwow with my team to brainstorm concepts. We always schedule in time to splash ideas and designs off each other, and this to me is important in the creative process. During the day clients will drop in to see progress on work or what we have going on in studio.

Most days are filled with the unexpected, which makes every day exciting.

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September 19 2018

Meghan Patrice Riley is a jewelry designer from Brooklyn who looks to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Tell us about yourself and your art background.

I am a self-trained artist and originally went to college in California as an economics major. From there, I took jewelry classes for fun in San Francisco at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and my hobby really took off. Once my career as a jewelry maker started taking off, I continued to take every class and workshop possible and began to build my home studio.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was the first show I ever did, where I was part of the emerging artists in 2011.

Starting with an economics background isn’t something we hear every day. It’s clear you were inspired by something to make this change – what influences you and your work?

My art is influenced by the idea of making connections and a lot of my work is playing with ideas and how to connect the materials. Often, this leads to back and forth with materials as some are easier to bend while others are not.

My biggest inspiration is childhood – the idea of playing dress up and putting an outfit together, as outrageous as possible. This creative process of experimentation to create beautiful and wearable pieces influences me.

How do you choose your material for each piece?

A lot of the way I choose materials for my pieces is through trial and error. I sketch a lot and have many ideas but from there, anything can change during the fabrication process. I am always adapting to changes throughout the process – if I sketch a piece and go to make it, the material may not work so I am constantly adapting and changing.

What do you do day-to-day in your studio?

We are keeping busy! Day to day in the studio is always changing but we are working on orders from museums and stores as well as working on new designs. We do have to do the business side as well, such as paperwork and emails but for me, the best part is when I can sit down and fabricate.

It’s been great learning about your process. For those attending this year’s Show, anything they should know prior to stopping by your booth?

The Show is an amazing curated experience! The international focus is great and not something I see often in the states. The same goes for the quality of craft. My work and the work of others is some of the best in the country, so I hope people come and buy something, I know I will be!

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September 10 2018

Would you like to join us at the 42nd annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show on November 2nd – 4th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for free? You have three chances to enter to win two tickets to this year’s show as well as a grand prize of a $200 gift certificate good towards any purchase(s) at the 2018 Craft Show. Enter to win during the below dates here.

September 10 –16
September 24 – 30
October 10 –16 – This giveaway includes the $200 gift card

With three chances to win, make sure to follow the Craft Show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for  reminders to enter.

If you don’t win, tickets are available for purchase via our website. Buy a single or multi-day pass by clicking here.

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August 07 2018

Michael Radyk is an artist, the Director of Education for the American Craft Council, and Editor-in Chief of the journal American Craft Inquiry.

What did you look for when scoring/evaluating artists for the Craft Show? What work warrants a higher score?

Beautiful, original, high skill work executed with a strong concept that elevates the artist’s use of material and final object will always get a high score.

In your opinion, how does the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show differentiate itself from other shows?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft and the Women’s Committee offer an all-inclusive, high level, and inspired experience for the artists and show attendees. When you attend the show, the level of dedication and commitment to nurturing artists and audiences is apparent from the moment you step into the show.

Michael, in your many roles in the field of craft, now at the American Craft Council, and previously a Craft Show exhibitor and a professor at Kutztown University who organized the student/alumni booth at the Show – what insights or thoughts can you share about your experience as a juror?

Being a juror is always an enlightening, joyful, and satisfying experience. Having just completed, in the past year- jurying for the PMA Craft show, the inaugural year of the Burke Prize 2018 for MAD, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Jerome Foundation’s project grants for emerging textile/fiber artists at Minneapolis’s Textile Center, and the Peters Valley Craft Fair, I cannot really put into words the unexpected, multidimensional, openness, and expansive nature of the craft movements future. Maybe, a better word here is FUTURES.

The PMA Craft show also encourages dialogue and discussion amongst its jurors which I found to be one of the great delights and important aspects of the process.

Are there any trends you can identify based on this year’s applicants?

I did see artists looking for new ways of using repurposed, recycled and reclaimed material in combination with traditional materials. The continued strength of the emerging artist category is always a bright spot.

What trends are you most excited about in the field of contemporary craft?

Well, I would be remiss if I did not mention the plethora of craft-based reality shows already here and coming our way. Get ready, it is going to be an interesting and bumpy ride! Craft, kraft, makers, crafters, and cræft-will be on full display!

When I cannot sleep at night I try to come up with possible variations on Making It! and the Great British Baking show. My personal favorites so far are Blowing It, Sanding It, and the Real American Quilters of Lancaster County, (the stitchers are vicious and ready for the batting)….with a follow up in Berks county….the possibilities are endless, if not all ridiculous.

If I can get back to being serious!

“Trends” may not be the word I would use here, because some of what is I am seeing and what is happening in the craft field, in regards to diversity, equity and inclusiveness is hopefully beyond trend. In Volume 2, Issue 1 of American Craft Inquiry, we published an essay This Is My Work: The Rise of Women in Woodworking by Anne Carlisle. I would hope everyone would take time to read this essay and support woman makers at all levels in the craft field and at the PMA Craft Show. The contribution of women in our field is one that should be researched, discussed, studied, and, written about many, many times in the future.

I also see a rise of indigenous contemporary makers who are expanding the future of craft, they are engaging communities, interdisciplinary approaches, and sociopolitical commentary in important and diverse ways. Artists like Lily Hope, Marie Watt, and Cannupa Hanska Luger are at the forefront of this important commitment to their cultures and our shared humanities.

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July 24 2018

Perry Price is the Executive Director of Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and he was one of five jurors for the 2018 Show. Each year our panel of jurors take on the incredible task of selecting exhibitors from a talented pool of artists working in craft and design.

What did you look for when scoring/evaluating artists for the Craft Show? What work warrants a higher score?

I found myself looking for artists with a particular voice in their work. At this level, the mastery and accomplishments of the individual artists is almost a given but work and makers who I tend to recognize with higher scores are the ones who draw me into their work by virtue of the originality and authenticity of their voice as artists.

In your opinion, how does the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show differentiate itself from other shows?

The caliber of the Philadelphia show is without peer. Its connection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its incredible collections and strong curatorial vision for craft, combined with the city of Philadelphia's incredible community of artists, institutions, and collectors, make for a heady cocktail. I can't imagine an artist who wouldn't be thrilled to engage with such an opportunity.

With your curatorial background and as a scholar of contemporary studio craft, what insights or thoughts can you share about your experience as a juror?

The experience of serving on the jury for the Craft Show is like having dinner with old friends who have each invited a new guest. The colleagues on the jury each bring their own unique perspectives, and the conversations we have are as edifying as they are enjoyable. Looking at the work, I am overjoyed when seeing work by new names as well as seeing the current ideas of familiar faces. It is as energizing as it is exhausting. And it is exhausting!

Are there any trends you can identify based on this year’s applicants?

Broader stylistic trends in the culture at large are sometimes slow to be felt in the field of contemporary craft, but I have noticed an awareness and sensitivity to what I see in the worlds of social media, graphic, industrial, and interior design in the work of many artists, especially among the many new voices.

What trends are you most excited about in the field of contemporary craft?

The greater trend of engagement in craft, craft materials, and craft processes by the greater culture at large and the confidence among craft artists to dictate and drive the direction of that engagement on their own terms.

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June 15 2018

In a three-part series, we are introducing you to the three artists featured in “At the Center: Masters of American Craft” installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art now through July 2018.

The curator of this installation and the author of this piece is Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This presentation is the fifth and final installation in the At the Center: Masters of American Craft series. Each exhibit highlights significant people who have shaped and influenced the field of American modern and contemporary craft. This installation concentrates on the contributions of Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz, Sharon Church, and Jack Larimore. The pairing of their objects not only demonstrates the artists’ ingenuity, virtuosity, and impact on the field, but also challenges the notion of what is considered sculpture.

 “At the center” of this gallery stand Wharton Esherick’s fireplace and doorway. Esherick is renowned for pushing woodwork into the sculptural realm and these massive pieces provide a perfect setting for this display of work by contemporary artists. With a focus on craft, each installation opening has coincided with the annual Contemporary Craft Show, a celebration of craft showcasing the finest makers from around the world. What distinguishes craft within contemporary art is the value of the skill, commitment to material, and deep knowledge of process that the artists bring to their work.

Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz (born 1928) says her fiber work “comes from the hand,” referring to her childhood and artistic career. Her mother was an avid embroiderer and her father a master carver and instructor of fine woodworking. Bobrowicz studied with two of the most important and forward-thinking artists in her field: Marianne Strengell (1909–1998) at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, and Anni Albers (1899–1994) at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art.

Nationally recognized for her contributions to the field of fiber art, Bobrowicz has been awarded commissions from Louis Kahn, the iconic architect, for the Kimball Museum in Texas, as well as from big corporate collections such as RCA and DuPont. In 1996 she received the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and in 1997 the Leeway Foundation’s Bessie Berman Award. Bobrowicz has also inspired future generations as professor of textiles and weavings at Philadelphia’s Drexel University from 1966 until she retired in 1997.

Bobrowicz feels “the constant motion, change, and growth in the universe.” She integrates these sensations into her sculptural, fiber-based works. By blending natural materials with synthetic materials, Bobrowicz plays with the idea of opposites such as dark versus light and order versus randomness. She uses clear monofilament because she feels strongly that “It is a fiber of our age, reflecting it in so many ways. It illuminates, vibrates, pulsates, expressing motion, a translucent, celestial energy field.”

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May 30 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in crafts?

My name is Joshua Ben Longo and I’m an artist, designer, teacher, and tattoo artist. I currently work full-time as Product Design Professor for Drexel University. This allows me to work on my own work and collaborations with various designers and companies, such as designing furniture for Anthropologie, creating animations for Adult Swim, or collaborating with Matter Design on books about Cyclopean Architecture.

I learn through doing and using my hands and spend my time dancing with material, searching for new form, function, or meaning. Sometimes the dance is enough for me, sometimes the material asks to become something else. I try to listen as best as I can to what I’m working with hoping it will lead me to a new and interesting place. Right now, I am obsessed with leather and leather forming. A majority of my work is textile based in the form of conceptual products and sculpture. I’m currently getting my master’s degree in Design Research at Drexel concerning this very topic and I’m looking to change perceptions of the relationship between maker, material, and artifact.

When did your interest in the arts spark?

I have always had an interest in the arts, but my passions were fed and flamed while studying Industrial Design at Pratt Institute.

What is your favorite craft you own you've ever bought?

I collect masks from traveling around the world. My favorite masks tend to be the demon and animal masks. I have a paper mache tiger mask I bought in India. There is something about masks that has always intrigued me. They act as portals to new dimensions, whether they be internal or external. One can’t argue the change of feeling when they put on a mask – it is instant. My masks and other artifacts from travel hang in my home studio where I do my drawing and painting, where they provide endless inspiration. 

What are your current and upcoming projects?

I’m currently getting my master’s degree in Design Research at Drexel University that is keeping me very busy! This summer, I plan to continue to experiment with leather and will be collaborating with the director, Keil Troisi, on designing monsters for his movie “Trash Night” which is currently in the funding stage. I also have a workshop on making, character, and form at MIT in the fall for the graduate architecture department which should be super fun.

At the 2017 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, I was one of the organizers as well as an exhibitor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University booth. The University Program gives attendees a chance to see and purchase work by students and recent alumni. The Westphal/Drexel booth will be exhibiting in the 2018 Show this fall so make sure to stop by to learn more!

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May 09 2018

In a three-part series, we are introducing you to the three artists featured in “At the Center: Masters of American Craft” installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art now through July 2018.

The curator of this installation and the author of this piece is Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This presentation is the fifth and final installation in the At the Center: Masters of American Craft series. Each exhibit highlights significant people who have shaped and influenced the field of American modern and contemporary craft. This installation concentrates on the contributions of Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz, Sharon Church, and Jack Larimore. The pairing of their objects not only demonstrates the artists’ ingenuity, virtuosity, and impact on the field, but also challenges the notion of what is considered sculpture.

 “At the center” of this gallery stand Wharton Esherick’s fireplace and doorway. Esherick is renowned for pushing woodwork into the sculptural realm and these massive pieces provide a perfect setting for this display of work by contemporary artists. With a focus on craft, each installation opening has coincided with the annual Contemporary Craft Show, a celebration of craft showcasing the finest makers from around the world. What distinguishes craft within contemporary art is the value of the skill, commitment to material, and deep knowledge of process that the artists bring to their work.

Sharon Church

Sharon Church (born 1948) makes art shaped by childhood visits to museums and the influence of her mother, who was an artist. She first studied with the renowned jeweler Earl Pardon (1926–1991) at Skidmore College in New York. Church continued her education with notable metalsmiths Hans Christensen (1924–1983) and Albert Paley (born 1944) at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen, graduating with a master of arts in 1973.

Church distinguished herself as a professor of crafts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia from 1979 until she retired in 2014. Recognition for both her craft and her teaching came in the form of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1978 and the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Craft Educators Award in 2008. Her jewelry can be found in many private and public collections around the world.

Church’s work has evolved from ropelike and beaded constructions to plant and animal forms. Although a metalsmith by training, she thinks of carving as a means of drawing and uses wood as the main material for her jewelry. Many artists who work with wood consider it a living material and Church is no exception, stating “Nature is life and it offers up metaphors about life.” She doesn’t have to go far for inspiration, asserting that she “sees jewelry everywhere” at her home and studio in Philadelphia. Fallen leaves, seedpods, or even a stray twig are fodder for her exploration of growth, transformation, loss, and renewal.

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April 18 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in a career in arts and museums? 

I started out in healthcare, enrolling in a nursing program after high school, but fairly quickly realized nursing was not for me after questioning my bravery in the face of blood and understanding of biochemistry. While rethinking my path, I took a part-time job at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA and was hooked. From there I went to work for a cultural accessibility organization and have held roles with several other museums and nonprofits.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Wharton Esherick Museum where I lead the organization’s preservation efforts and explore new ways to continue the dialogue between Esherick’s creative legacy and contemporary artists and audiences.

When did your interest in the arts spark?

I was always interested in the arts. My family moved to Europe when I was eight years old and a lot of my formative years were spent exploring museums, castles, cathedrals, and city streets lined with beautiful architecture. It was a wonderful way to grow up and my love of the arts was cemented in those places.

What is the best craft you have ever bought?

While all of the artwork and handmade objects I own are treasured, the best craft pieces I have ever bought are my growing collection of hand blown glasses.

I recently married my long-time partner at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading. We wanted an informal and fun ceremony so the Hot Shop Manager guided each of us in making a matching pair of rocks glasses while our guests sipped champagne in the stadium seats, then we dimmed the lights and had the ceremony. Neither of us had tried glassblowing before and we loved the creative participation and sense of adventure. The glasses turned out pretty well too! The GoggleWorks Center has a fabulous store and now, every time I go, I pick up a few more glasses made by artists on site. 

How do you display this craft?

Though we only use the glasses we made during our wedding for special occasions, the glasses in the rest of the collection are used on a daily basis rather than just displayed. For me, this circles back to what is so wonderful about the artist Wharton Esherick’s work. He made furniture, utensils, light pulls, coat pegs, switch plates – even toilet seats – that were more than decorative. They were functional pieces of art that made everyday life a little more beautiful.

What’s coming up at the Wharton Esherick Museum that we should know about?

The Wharton Esherick Museum is in an exciting period of growth. We are planning now for the use of new spaces, including Esherick’s original home in the area before construction of the Studio, as well as his 1956 Workshop which was co-designed with Louis Kahn. With the addition of these spaces, the Museum is poised to expand its interpretive and educational activities with increased exhibit and programming space, improved accessibility and more active engagement with contemporary artists.

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March 27 2018

In a three-part series, we are introducing you to the three artists featured in “At the Center: Masters of American Craft” installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art now through July 2018.

The curator of this installation and the author of this piece is Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This presentation is the fifth and final installation in the At the Center: Masters of American Craft series. Each exhibit highlights significant people who have shaped and influenced the field of American modern and contemporary craft. This installation concentrates on the contributions of Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz, Sharon Church, and Jack Larimore. The pairing of their objects not only demonstrates the artists’ ingenuity, virtuosity, and impact on the field, but also challenges the notion of what is considered sculpture.

“At the center” of this gallery stand Wharton Esherick’s fireplace and doorway. Esherick is renowned for pushing woodwork into the sculptural realm and these massive pieces provide a perfect setting for this display of work by contemporary artists. With a focus on craft, each installation opening has coincided with the annual Contemporary Craft Show, a celebration of craft showcasing the finest makers from around the world. What distinguishes craft within contemporary art is the value of the skill, commitment to material, and deep knowledge of process that the artists bring to their work.

Jack Larimore

Growing up on a farm in Michigan, Jack Larimore (born 1950) understood at an early age that tools meant you could “do stuff.” He began his career as an environmental planner after studying landscape architecture at Michigan State University. But it was in the early 1970s, after fixing up a house in Philadelphia, that Larimore fell under the spell of the city’s booming furniture scene.

Largely self-taught, by 1983 Larimore had established himself as a sculptor and furniture maker. Recognized early on as an innovator in the field, his work addressed issues of culture, nature, and humanity. While maintaining a private studio practice Larimore taught at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia from 1993 to 2005. He is a founding member of the Furniture Society and a trustee at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia.

Seeking change in 2009, Larimore came across artwork incorporating tree trunks: it “knocked me on the head, and I realized there is more to wood than sanding it up . . . so it looks like plastic.” Without cutting wood into pieces or using complicated joinery, he began working with salvaged timbers. “In those materials is the history of a living tree,” states Larimore. A naturalist at heart, the artist became “aware of the beauty in the processes of nature.” Maintaining a studio in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Larimore continues to seek renewal in old timbers and trunks, his work provoking contemplation on recycling, reparation, and ecology.

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March 20 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in starting crafts and living such a colorful life?

I’m Rachel Mae Smith and I run the blog The Crafted Life. I started blogging back in 2011 when I was overwhelmed with work and in need of a creative outlet. Before that, I had never used a camera or Photoshop, so it was all a learning process. In 2014, I was able to turn my hobby into a full-time job and have been running The Craft Life since!

As for color, I’ve always had a thing for color, but I started bringing it into my home more and more when I moved from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon in 2014. I missed the candy colored homes, so I sought out to make my home that place of colorful joy, regardless of what city it was located in.

Have you always been interested in crafts?

I have! I remember as a kid being obsessed with making those DIY loop potholders, friendship bracelets, and sand art. There was always something so exciting about turning simple materials into something real and usable. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Art History, so my love for the arts has been lifelong.

What is the best craft you’ve ever bought?

A pink and grey vase from Brian Giniewski

How do you display this craft?

I really love using it for flowers, but since I don’t always have fresh flowers, I use it to hold brushes and pens in my studio so that I can keep it out instead of putting it in a cabinet in between use.

What does this piece mean to you?

I just love Brian’s work in general, but I bought this particular piece from him during a maker fair that I curated and hosted. While being a beautiful piece on its own, it also has a fun memory!

Can you tell us about some of your current or upcoming projects?

My first book, Hello Color, comes out May 1st! It’s full of colorful projects that you can make for any room in your home. I’ll be going on tour in the month of July, driving and crafting my way across the country!

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February 27 2018

Installation and silk graffiti artist Aubrie Costello uses words to create art that moves: both physically and emotionally. Her designs are inspired by the people of Philadelphia and the words they use in their everyday lives. Here is her story.

I attended Moore College of Art & Design where I began completing installation work that correlated with my sketches. I shared a studio in North Philadelphia with Darla Jackson, a fellow Philadelphian artist, and it was incredible, but I eventually got to a point where I realized I didn’t like the studio setting. Instead of working I would just be writing down and listening to the conversations outside my window. This is where it all started.

One night I took strands of silk, a hammer, and some nails and tagged the walls with some words from my notebook in silk right outside my studio. It felt great! It wasn’t heavy.  It was quite literally this light way of talking about the same heavier topics like gender roles and socio-economic injustices. I was just writing on the wall – not a traditional graffiti way of doing the work. 

Philadelphia loves art and its artists, but it can be difficult to be a working artist. Most artists I know wear many hats. I have a day job although I’d rather put my full energy into this. 

Working at The Bus Stop Boutique has been amazing because my boss is also collaborator/ mentor/ friend. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders and she pushes me. I’ve even had the opportunity to collaborate with shoe brands because of her. What’s really invaluable is that there’s this common thread between my work and fashion. When I go to trade shows I’ll see cool color patterns and juxtapositions that inspire my work. 

The words and phrases used in my art are about 75 percent overheard from people on the street. I take their meaning then reinterpret it with silk. Silk has an emotional feel to it – almost a sadness. It’s interesting to play with other people’s words. I love playing with my own words, but sometimes I’m more excited to play with other people’s words.

I’ve always been concerned with reflecting the times. I’m more present and I want to talk about what’s going on right now. If I put a piece up in the neighborhood I want it to resonate and speak to the people who would interact with that specific piece and perhaps pose a thoughtful question to the viewer. 

I have always loved how accessible street art is, but I was a little apprehensive myself to make a piece and put it up. I put so much pressure on myself for me to be good enough. I want mine to be effective and beautiful.

Because of this, people often ask, why silk? I loved the material so much – loved the fabric. One day, I had a fiber/textile teacher at Moore who came into my studio. She said, “You need to let the fabric speak for itself.” My work isn’t canvas or paper, so I need to let it show its weight, let it hang. That tiny conversation with her has stuck with me through this entire process. 

I start my studio days walking around, writing, and observing. I note down what strikes and inspires me. After returning to my studio I figure out color, pairing, and scale.

For the Fringe Arts Festival 2017, I collaborated on a short film, dance performance, and site-specific art piece “Show Me What You Want Me to See.”  It flowed so naturally. We started with one piece and went from there to finish with a total of 14. We pulled out keywords that we felt would be the most interesting. The original purpose of the pieces was for the film to be in the apartment. Then the pieces became the set. I love this especially in my work “The Relic in the Thing.”

The whole film plays with subtitles, and these jarring moments you experience in loss. I wanted some to be fleshy quiet, some to interject that blood red – I wanted to showcase the dynamic emotional rollercoaster of experiencing loss.

Thanks to Conrad Benner, founder of Streets Dept, people connected the dots with the work and the artist who made it. I have a lot to thank him for. But Instagram has also been instrumental in this as well. I have been given a lot of opportunities for collaboration and to have a creative outlet. I can also use it to make merchandise or partner with other artists and businesses. 

I have also recently exhibited at Main Line Arts Center.  Happily Ever After was a selection of works by female artists. The exhibition is from post-feminist perspective in what it means to be a woman in modern times. We are questioning womanhood and gender.

The exhibit opened on October 13, 2017.  I was really excited about this collaboration because it allows me to add more depth to my art in a way. I want to do more of this, although street art will always be my first love. 

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December 18 2017

THANK YOU TO OUR PATRONS, ARTISTS, SPONSORS, AND ALL WHO ATTENDED THE 2017 PMA CRAFT SHOW!

Our 41st annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center raised $347,000 for the Museum! Thanks to the support of our sponsors, patrons and artists, the Craft Show has contributed more than $12 million over a 41-year period to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in many areas including education, acquisitions and special exhibitions.

We have grown from a showcase of 125 artists to 195 of the world’s finest artists in the craft field. This year our ten award winners represent some of the best and the brightest artists in the craft world across the country. Check out our interview with Pavel Novak, our Excellence in Glass winner, who uses the cold-working and color lamination technique to craft optical glass sculptures that change color depending on your perspective.

This year featured the return of the Guest Artist Program. A global enterprise that connects leading Asian artists, Soluna Living brought 25 of the finest contemporary craft artists from Korea, each showcasing a unique perspective, variety of materials, styles, and disciplines.

In addition, Philly artist and last year’s Excellence in Metal winner, Stacey Lee Webber, marked her return to the Craft Show as well. Webber is best known for her original penny art, where she cuts coins to create one-of-a-kind signature pieces.

See all the action from our 41th annual Craft Show by checking out our Facebook photo albums from the Show and the Preview Party. To view the full list of winners please visit https://goo.gl/ES58fr.

Save the date for the 42nd Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show; November 2-4, 2018 with a Preview Party on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

Applications will be accepted for the 2018 PMA Craft Show by the end of December. For more information please visit https://www.pmacraftshow.org/2018-application

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December 04 2017

How sustainability and innovation have impacted the career of this lifelong jeweler

PMA Craft Show: Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got involved in craft?

Todd Reed: I have always been interested in the craft of putting things together. After high school, I was working as a leathersmith making hand-stitched clothing, craft couture and handbags with a local designer. We used many silver and deer antler ornaments in the pieces, which instilled a passion for expanding the metal components into buckles and jewelry items. After I successfully made my first concho, I realized I fell in love with metal. This inspired me to build a home studio, and that is when my career in jewelry design began!

CS: What compels you to use recycled metals and sustainably-sourced raw diamonds in your work?

TR: I started my company with a focus on forming meaningful relationships, not only with people, but also the environment.

At that time, there was no Kimberley process, which is a certification that verifies diamonds’ origins. Even though it was not popular to be responsible, it was important to me, so we did it. I started working with a vendor who made a commitment to source diamonds from non-conflict areas, and I still work with them to this day. 

We also work with a great company called Hoover and Strong, a refiner and manufacturer that has been providing socially and environmentally-responsible products for more than 95 years. We send them our scraps and get usable pieces of metal in return. In fact, all of the metals we use can be easily recycled. 

CS: You’re so committed to the environment and sustainability. Were you always interested in using diamonds responsibly in your craft?

TR: I’m constantly inspired by diamonds and reusing or reimagining materials. That’s just who I am. When I was younger I would use things like roadkill for leather; I think that “innovative lens” is just instilled in me. To this day when I look at diamonds in my workspace I’m inspired, they’re just so amazing!

CS: Your online presence is active. Do you have any tips for artists trying to get their name recognized using social media?

TR: Growing up I was always called “tenacious Todd.” You kind of have to be obsessive about something to make a presence when there’s hundreds of thousands of other companies and attractions for people to browse and select. It really must become your life. You can’t just put in 50 hours and expect it to happen - it’s just tenacity and a willingness to be unique and stand out.

The biggest key I would tell people trying to make art into a business is you have to constantly look and re-look at everything, with the end goal of pushing innovation. That, coupled with truly believing in the work you’re doing.

CS:How did you feel presenting your work in the 2017 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show as compared to your first time?

TR: I was excited about the work I created, as well as the opportunity to represent my brand to a new group of people. This is how I started the beginning of my career – getting amazing feedback from a diverse audience at the Craft Show.

Learn more about Todd Reed by visiting https://www.toddreed.com.

 

 

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May 05 2017

After a dreary winter, we’re ready for spring. We’ve found a few activities and exhibits that may very well lift your spirits!

Phulkari: The Embroidered Textiles of Punjab from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

The latest exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art explores phulkari, meaning “flower work,” which are ornately embroidered textiles from Punjab, India. These pieces are traditionally hand stitched by women to be worn at special occasions. Witness the precise work and beautiful designs that have been created. The exhibit is currently open and runs until July 9th.

Collective Design Fair 2017

Looking for a fun craft weekend in New York City? The Collective Design Fair invites international artists to present their work and partake in a discourse on modern and contemporary art and design. This includes educational programs highlighting the creative process and current trends as well as curator-led tours. This year the Wexler Gallery from Philadelphia will participate! The Fair will take place from May 3 through May 7 at the Skylight Clarkson Square in New York City.

First Friday

First Friday is a Philly favorite all year long! Occurring on the First Friday evening of every month, the galleries of Old City open their doors to all. This free event allows people to relax, eat, and enjoy art featured in local galleries. First Friday activities run from 5pm - 8pm. A few can’t miss exhibits are featured below.

Elemental” is a current exhibit at the Lacey & Phillips Gallery in collaboration with InLiquid, a local nonprofit dedicated to expanding and promoting visual culture. The featured artists have taken inspiration from the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. You can see “Elemental” now until May 27.

“Small Favors: Think Inside the Box” is an exhibit at The Center for Art in Wood in collaboration with The Clay Studio. The exhibition has challenged new and experienced artists to produce a piece of work that will fit within a 4-inch acrylic cube. Over the past 10 years, thousands of artists have participated in this boundary challenge, and have created some truly amazing small-scale sculptures. “Small Favors” runs through May 27.

The Snyderman-Works Galleries presents Mediations, which features three artists who have created their “own language by allowing time and repetition to dictate the movement of each piece.” Artists SaraNoa Mark, Samantha Mitchell, and Rowland Ricketts will display not only their finished product, but the steps and processes it took to make each work. Mediations runs now through May 13.

Surface Forms

Are you a fan of textiles and design? Check out Surface Forms at the Fabrics Workshop and Museum. Explore the vibrant work of high school, college, graduate, and post-graduate students who have taken part in The Apprentice Training Program over the past three years. Surface Forms is on display now through June 25.

Let’s Make! Intro to Wheel Throwing

Do you like creating things with your hands? Have you ever wanted to learn to use a potter’s wheel? Head over to one of The Clay Studio’s Saturday workshops “Let’s Make! Intro to Wheel Throwing!” and spend the afternoon learning to throw clay and create your own item that will be fired and processed. No experience necessary; all materials are provided. Just show up ready to work!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about happenings in the Philadelphia area.

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April 04 2017

Steve Noggle, a woodturner from North Carolina, has over 40 years of experience working with wood. He has been a timber cruiser and furniture industry engineer; currently he owns and operates his own studio. His work can be found in galleries throughout North Carolina and Tennessee.

How do you go about picking a piece of wood? Is there a time of day or season that is best?

The best season to get logs is the winter when sap is low, creating less water in the tree. In these conditions, there are fewer problems with cracking deformity, especially when you carve a bowl. However, I get logs year-round because most wood that I use I don’t find in nature. Because I’ve been in the industry for years, individuals seek me out to sell me logs. If that didn’t happen, it would take me forever to search for the right kind of piece. In addition to logs, I also use burls, which is the growth deformity that you see on sides of trees.

The kind of wood I like to work with best are from the local maple, walnut, and cherry trees that are in the big woods in my area (North Carolina), although maple is my favorite. Eucalyptus wood from Australia is nice to work with as well as it is highly textured, has cool colors, and is highly figured.

Are there different logs for different pieces?

When I first started, I used my local wood since I wasn’t too familiar with what made wood pretty; I would take anything I could get my hands on. At the time, I wasn’t working with logs, but instead thick flat boards to make shallow pieces.  

After I moved onto logs - well the sky’s the limit! You can make both tall and deep bowls. The biggest difference when making bowls out of logs is that the bowl is going to deform, since it dries unevenly on different sides. These pieces are called “natural edge bowls,” so it’s okay that this occurs. When the piece is finished (after sitting for a week to dry) it deforms somewhat. It’ll move in one direction over the other. It’s okay because this gives the bowl an organic, natural effect.

What is the name of the machine you are using in some of the pictures? How does that help the process?

The lathe is a machine that constantly rotates the piece I am working on so I can shape it more accurately. It moves the piece at speeds of 500-600 rpm.

The tailstock is a tool that tightens the piece against the other end by turning the handle. When it’s tight, I turn my tool rest on and the wood starts spinning. Simultaneous to the piece is spinning, I am quickly carving it to form the bowl’s initial shape. I form the outside of the piece, which determines what the inside will look like. Since all my pieces follow the same contour, these first steps are essential to the piece's success.

What about cutting - are there different methods for cutting that lead to different types of bowls?

If you want to make a piece kind of round you should use a chainsaw while cutting. The chainsaw is used before the lathe, which is a machine that allows me to shape a piece more accurately.

How long is the selecting and initial cutting process?

I can’t tell anything from just looking at a tree, but I can tell a lot when it’s in log form. The sellers send me a photo from the end of the log after a fresh cut, and I can tell everything I need to know: color texture, grain - really anything that would be pertinent to my work.

How long does that process take?

I probably spend a half hour or more cutting up a piece in the yard and studying it before making the first cut. After the piece goes on the lathe; depending on the size, it could take anywhere from an hour to almost three hours to properly carve. After this is complete, the bowl dries for about a week before it undergoes sanding and other finishing touches.

How do you know when it’s done?

The sanding process is the final step. I start at 80 grit (which is coarseness of the sandpaper) then go up to 320 grit, which is a power sand. After the 320 grit, it’s ready to be oiled. I hand rub multiple coats of tung oil (drying oil); typically, it takes three days of applying one coat per day. After that third coat, it’s ready!

What is your approach each day?

I do a little of everything each day. This morning I cut three big chunks out, which took an hour and a half. I’m going to make big salad bowls out of them. I won’t do any more today- the chainsaw can be exhausting. The lathe is much easier to physically operate although the dexterity can be tricky. I’ll do lathe work and then I’ll do some sanding.

Do you do anything else outside of your studio?

I co-own a co-op gallery called Ariel Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. I work there three days a month and the other 12 co-owners also work there three days a month year-round. Other than that, I work on my craft every day. I have worked in eight or nine galleries and I do about six or so shows a year.

Learn more about Steve Noggle by visiting his website or checking out his recent segment on Carolina Impact

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