Craft Show juror on fulfillment, meaning and identity through craftsmanship

Thanks to all who joined us for a Sunday afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an author talk and book signing from Peter Korn, one of our jurors at this year’s show. The Philadelphia native, now executive director of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, returned home to share the memoir and philosophical exploration that is Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman. “I was delighted to have such an interested and inquisitive audience for the book talk,” Korn said. (Pictured: Korn with an arts fan; Korn with his father and a copy of his book.)

Why We Make Things steps beyond the how-to guides of carpentry and craftsmanship that constitutes Korn’s prior books. The Inquirer calls it the “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for those who work in wood, though its principles apply to all creative undertakings.” An excerpt from the introduction shows Korn’s conceptual evolution that inspired him to write a book on the virtue of craft:

“When I turned my first clear pine board into a cradle, and for many years thereafter, I was beguiled by rediscovering the how of craft. How do you sharpen a chisel? How do you cut a sliding dovetail? How do you make a chair comfortable? Eventually, though, I also began to wonder about the why. What is craft and why does it matter? Why do we make things?”

In meeting that question, Korn discussed the fulfillment and meaning that people can find not just in a woodworking shop or in an artist’s studio, but in the kitchen and the garage. Collecting valuable insight from a Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show juror gave us plenty of inspiration to help hold us over until November’s Craft Show.

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