Meet the 2021 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Jury Committee
“My hope is that more people will apply each year to be part of the show. I think the more work artists can be exposed to, the more it will push them to be better, whether that's in the quality of their work, their creativity, or their confidence level. You can't grow without putting yourself out there and being part of the culture that helps with that growth is super gratifying.”
~ Brad Ford, 2021 juror, PMA Craft Show
The PMA Craft Show jury has a special annual assignment. Each year a new set of jurors has the meaningful and celebrated responsibility of choosing the artists who will participate in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. A position they don’t take lightly, we spoke with a few of the 2021 jurors to learn more about them and get a glimpse into the process.
(Above: Parasol / Umbrella by Emerging Artist Tamara Belinda)
A ceramic artist as well as professor of art at Swarthmore College, Syd Carpenter has received many honors, including a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants. She is currently part of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was mentioned in a recent NY Times article about it.
(Above: Ceramics by Lisa Zolandz)
Incorporating fine contemporary craft into the stylings of an interior space is a key component to expanding the genre. Brad Ford is a New York City based interior designer who in addition to owning his own firm, has created the popular event Field + Supply, a modern interpretation of a traditional arts and crafts fair.
(Above: Glass by Nick Leonoff)
(Above: Glass by Alexander Fekete)
As Director of Fine Art & Glass at Aspen Colorado’s Raven Gallery, Anne Gross has taken her background in business and management to the next level. With art and craft as her longtime passion, her pivotal moment came 20 years ago when living on a sailboat for two years. During that time, she worked at a craft gallery, which shaped her world, eventually leading to her current role.
(Above: Metal by Darlys Ewoldt)
(Above: Wood by Steven Potts)
Elisabeth Agro is The Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has executed several exhibitions at the museum, including Wrought & Crafted: Jewelry and Metalwork 1900 – Present, Interactions in Clay: Contemporary Explorations of the Collection and Craft Spoken Here. Elisabeth is co-founder of Critical Craft Forum and currently serves as an advisor. In 2014 she launched Techné, Ambassadors for International Craft, as an affinity group of the Museum.
(Above: Jewelry by Shaya Durbin)
(Above: Jewelry by Jennifer Chin)
Rounding out the 2021 jury is Jessica Armstrong, metalsmith and owner of Pistachios Jewelry & Craft Gallery in Chicago. She received her BFA from Eastern Kentucky University and MFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She has held residencies at Millersville University and Lillstreet Art Center and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally along with winning various scholarships, grants, and awards.
We had the chance to ask Brad, Anne, and Syd to share more about being on the PMA Craft Show Jury.
What do you look for in the work?
Syd: I look first for a distinct vision or idea. What does the artist love and how does their art convey it? I then look for skill and mastery of their process.
Anne: The biggest considerations for me were originality coupled with technique, and the ensuing emotional response that resulted from that recognition.
Brad: I always look at the quality of something first and how it’s made. Secondly, I look at the artistry. Is there something about a piece that is unique or makes it stand apart from other work?
What is the most interesting part of being a juror?
Syd: Being a juror gives access to a broad range of media as well as a cross section of who is making it. It isn’t a comprehensive view, but it alerts me to the trends and practices being used by artists pursuing a professional path in their field.
Anne: It was both the opportunity to see the variety of work and to then have an informed discussion of it with the other jurors. It was such an enriching experience in that way.
Brad: Seeing the cross section of work that's out there. There are so many different mediums and seeing how each artist approaches their work is fascinating and can be inspiring.
Could you share more about the experience of being a juror?
Syd: The experience of being on a panel of well-informed experienced jurors is always informative. The dialogue is often a revelation with insights and observations shared in a concise conversation.
Anne: Being a juror for this show was many things; a compliment, a responsibility, a learning experience, and an opportunity to support the craft world. It was also a fun and enriching experience meeting everyone at the museum as well as the other jurors; even if it was virtually!
Brad: It's actually incredibly interesting and a great way to discover new talent. There's such a cross section of artists out there and it's nice being a part of something that can help guide these people's future.
Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of the 2021 artists!