Behind the Scenes with the 2020 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Jurors

(Above: Scarf by Isabelle Gougenheim)

“Being asked to jury an exhibition like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is an incredible honor and a role that I view with deference. It was a privilege to be at the jurying table, to peer into the state of craft in 2020 and to help select the artists, designers, and thinkers who will exhibit on the final stage.” ~ Juror Sarah Darro

The task of selecting artists for a premier event like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is a major undertaking and a big responsibility. Up to 800 talented artists apply for 195 spaces, and there is a different set of jurors each year. The 2020 jurors represent a wide spectrum of skill, talent, and knowledge surrounding fine contemporary craft and include Josephine Stealey, Sarah Darro, Christian Larsen, Meredith Host, and Doug Bucci. We asked for their thoughts on the jury process and experience. Here is just some of what they shared….

Jo Stealey looks for work that is well designed and executed with appropriate use of materials and techniques for the idea being pursued. She enjoyed getting to know the other jurors and sharing thoughts about the work submitted. “We came from a very of perspectives and media”, she says. “The breadth of our experiences and perspectives in the jurying process was really energizing.” Jo is a nationally known artist, author, curator, professor emerita and founding director of the School of Visual Studies at the University of Missouri. Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts in Pensacola, Florida.

(Above: Necklace by Samantha Freeman)

Sarah Darro expressed what a joy it was to help jury the PMA Craft Show. “What I find most interesting about being part of a jury selection process is that it is decentralized and democratic by design”, says Sarah. “Rather than giving weight to a single perspective, a jury brings together specialists and makers from different disciplines to choose works together. This method of choosing, with many lenses and perspectives at the table, initiates fascinating discourse about the state of the field and allows jurors to learn from one another.” As a scholar and curator of contemporary craft, Sarah’s criteria in jurying encompasses concept, material exploration, craftsmanship, technical skill, and ingenuity. The work that really strikes her exhibits strength across all of those categories. Sarah is an independent curator of contemporary craft, material culture, and design and was named the 2019 American Craft Council Emerging Voices Awards Scholar. She is the Curatorial Research Fellow of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass and completed a Windgate Curatorial Fellowship at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

(Above: Glass vase by David Russell)

Meredith Host explains her jury experience succinctly, focusing on the importance of great craftsmanship, eye-catching work, and the use of interesting techniques and materials. A highlight was being introduced to some new makers and seeing the wide range of work being produced. She especially enjoyed meeting the other jurors, and hearing their thoughts and expertise throughout the process. Meredith is a studio potter in Kansas City, MO. She teaches workshops around the country, and is a founding member of the Kansas City Urban Potters. She has participated in numerous ceramic residencies including The School for American Crafts at RIT in Rochester, NY, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME, Dresden Porzellan Manufactory in Dresden, Germany, and West Virginia University through The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China.

(Above: Ceramics by Sandra Byers)

Rounding out the jury are Doug Bucci and Christian Larsen. Doug is right here in Philly and is a metalsmith artist, educator, and head of Metals and Jewelry/CAD-CAM at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. His work is in collections both here and abroad, including Windsor Castle, London; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; Deutsche Goldschmiedehaus Hanau, Germany; Design Museo, Helsinki, Finland and The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Christian is currently the Windgate Research Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City. Previously, he was Associate Curator of Modern Decorative Arts and Design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

(Above: Handblown glass by Josie Gluck & Michael Schunke)

We hope you will enjoy the artists of the 2020 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and we thank the jurors for their time and dedication in bringing this year’s artists to the forefront of fine contemporary craft. Keep an eye out on the website and stay tuned for the announcement of the 2020 artists.


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