May 21 2019

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show has over a dozen different categories of fine craft represented among its 195 exhibitors. This week’s blog features the art of glassblowing, with last year’s prizewinner for Excellence in Glass, Thomas Spake.

Glass as a medium can take on many forms. For glassblower Thomas Spake, it can be a small ornament or a large-scale outdoor sculpture. As a first time artist at last year’s Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Thomas took home the Cohn Family Trust Prize for Excellence in Glass. We’re thrilled that Thomas will be joining us again in 2019 and we were intrigued to learn more about his work process and the imagination behind it.

Thomas is inspired by the natural world around him and his one-of-a-kind pieces reflect that. His designs are influenced by the work of 19th century impressionist artists Klimt, Monet, and Van Gogh and their mixture of colors and patterns to express the idea of trees, water, and sky. “One thing that makes my work unique is that I’m using different colored glass chips and powders with five to ten colors to create one pattern”, says Spake. “Much like painting multiple layers to create patterns and textures as the impressionists did, I create textures in glass with the colors from underneath coming through and combine them with the colors on top for the finished product. So the technique is utilized not only for the final result, but also for the process of creating, similar to how the impressionists combined colors on and below the surface.”

Thomas’s work can be found in public spaces, corporate complexes, museum shops, private collections, and this November at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He had a successful show last year, citing the high caliber of both the artists and the audience as contributing factors. “It was a wonderful experience, from the quality of work throughout the show to the knowledgeable patrons that attended. It was a very educated audience about the medium of working with glass in a non-traditional manner.”

Thomas grew up in Georgia, has lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the last two decades and has worked at his craft for over 25 years. Going to college on a basketball scholarship took a detour when a work-study program in the art department introduced him to glassblowing. That was it for Thomas who described seeing the whole process as a jaw-dropping moment. He never looked back, receiving a B.A. in art and glass from Centre College and eventually launching his solo career. Thomas is constantly inventing new patterns, techniques and designs and he hopes to scale his work even larger than it already is. He believes in the “10,000 hour rule” coined by journalist and thought leader Malcolm Gladwell. “Expect to put in 10,000 hours before you make any significant progress”, Thomas says. “You have to be passionate about what you’re doing and believe in yourself. Because in reality, the only person you have is yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.”

Stop by Thomas’s booth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and see his mesmerizing and colorful work up close and in person. Maybe you’ll take something home with you!

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May 14 2019

It takes a lot of people power to produce an event like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and each year there is a “Show Chairperson” in addition to the event director, support staff, and volunteers. We thought it would be nice to introduce our 2019 Show Chair, Anja Levitties. Anja has served on the Craft Show Committee for six years and has been a volunteer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in various capacities for the past 25 years. Her role and responsibilities as Show Chair are largely to support and motivate the 100 dedicated and experienced members of the Craft Show Committee. She also serves as the public name and face of the Show, specifically via outreach to potential sponsors, supporters, artists and more. “I love working with everyone involved with the show”, says Levitties. “Whether they are an artist, a juror, or a volunteer, everyone is so enthusiastic and thrilled to be participating in making the Show a success.” Here’s a Q & A with more from Anja:

How would you describe the show to a newcomer?

The Show takes place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where each craft booth becomes like its own gallery, with plenty of room throughout the hallways to walk around, mingle, and take it all in. All the work is for sale and the artists are present to interact, engage, and answer questions. Beautiful booths of precious jewelry will be next to luminous works of glass and fabulous furniture. Additional activities include artist demonstrations and a fashion show.

What can people expect at this year’s show?

A mix of master craftspeople and returning artists, longtime working artists that are new to our Show, and talented emerging artists. Our loyal visitors who have supported the Show for years like to see the artists with whom they have developed relationships, but they also like to see fresh faces and new work to which they not have been previously exposed. In terms of programming, we have recently enhanced our Meet & Greet tours program - small group guided tours including speaking with three participating artists at their booths., Individuals and or groups may register to attend and there is also a Friday night package that includes a drink voucher.  

Can you talk about the International Guest Artist Program and this year’s artists from Israel?

Our Guest Artist Program is a wonderful part of what makes our show special. In addition to our 195 talented American artists, we dedicate a portion of the Show floor to approximately two dozen guest artists from a different country each year. Two years ago the country was South Korea, then Germany, and now Israel. It is a fantastic way to expose our visitors to craft and design from around the world. I enjoy seeing the interactions between the artists. They learn from each other, they buy or trade pieces, and they form lasting bonds. This form of cultural exchange is truly special to watch.  

What else do you recommend doing for those staying in Philly for the weekend? 

For out of town visitors staying for the weekend, or for local folks who might want to bring friends to come along, there are many other great things to do in Philadelphia. For concurrent craft events, check out Craft Now Philadelphia and of course Visit Philly is always THE place to find the latest information on what is going on around the city, where to eat, and where to stay.    

There are even more events, right?

Right! The kick-off to this year’s show will be a gala Preview Party on the evening of November 7th. This event provides an opportunity for our guests to have the first look at the show and to mix and mingle with the artists over delicious food and drink. On Saturday afternoon we will once again be putting on a fashion show featuring fabulous clothing and accessories from artists in the show modeled by members of the Craft Show Committee. This is always a standing-room-only event in our artist demonstration area. Speaking of artist demonstrations, these take place on Friday and Saturday and are a wonderful way to hear directly from our artists about their work-process and inspiration.  

Another program that is near and dear to many is our “Craft U” university program. Each year students and recent alumni from craft programs participate in our Show. Encouraging new talent is very important to us. This year’s participants will be Moore College of Art, Drexel University, and SCAD Jewelry Graduate Study.

What is the museum’s involvement with the Show? 

The Craft Show is the single biggest fundraiser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Over its 42-year history the show has given $13 million to the museum in grants to fund community outreach programs, educational programs such as the summer Art Splash initiative, special exhibitions, art conservation projects and more. It is very important for our committee and visitors to realize what an important contribution the proceeds from the show make to the museum every year. The museum helps to promote the Show to its membership through social and print media in the months leading up to the Show. In addition, Timothy Rub, CEO and Director of the Museum, plays a key role at the Preview Party during the award ceremony by first acknowledging our sponsors and patrons and then announcing the recipients of Best of Show awards. 

Anything else you would like to add?

There are a wide range of shows out there in which artists can participate – big/small, regional/national, wholesale/retail; indoor/outdoor; etc. Our show is one of the premier Shows in the country and is of a high caliber. Our Guest Artist Program, Craft U program, guided Meet & Greet tours, and Artist Demonstrations all provide unique opportunities to engage with the show. Our size not only allows our jurors to be quite selective in their decision-making process, but also allows our visitors to focus and spend time truly appreciating the work of our artists, speaking with them, and becoming loyal customers. We invite people to explore the Craft Show website to learn more...

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April 24 2019

“I make porcelain vessels for everyday use that are both sculptural and utilitarian. I’m influenced by physically engaging textures like old barn wood or industrial flooring, and I enjoy applying common everyday materials to porcelain which is typically seen as precious.” ~ Bryan Hopkins

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show has over a dozen different categories of fine craft represented among its 195 exhibitors. Beginning with ceramics, we’ll be highlighting each category on our blog throughout the season leading to the Show in November.


Ceramics are well represented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and every year we look forward to experiencing the wide variety of styles, designs, and techniques behind each artist’s work. From thrown pottery to porcelain vessels to extruded and stretched slab techniques, each handmade piece is unique, whether meant for utilitarian use, display, or both. As the recipient of the Best of Show for 2018, we couldn’t think of a better way to start this blog series than by talking with ceramic artist Bryan Hopkins. Bryan has participated in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show seven times and he will be back in 2019.

Bryan Hopkins - mug

Bryan’s home and studio are located in Buffalo, NY and he earned an MFA in ceramics at SUNY New Paltz, but his roots are in Philadelphia. Growing up outside Philly and attending West Chester University, Bryan’s trajectory took him from being a math major in college to finding his way to clay, and eventually porcelain, the primary material he has worked in since 1990. Bryan teaches at Niagra County Community College as well as workshops in colleges and art centers around the country. His work has been exhibited in national shows and he has been featured in several niche magazines and books. There was a natural segue in asking Bryan about a correlation between math and his design process. “There’s a lot of geometry in my work. The mathematician / scientist Descartes and his simple circle formulas are interesting to me visually”, says Hopkins. “However, I’m influenced more by urban environments, architecture and the elevation of structures.” Bryan loves the feeling of freedom he has in the studio to take risks, play, and explore, which has brought forth many breakthroughs over the years.

For many craft artists, there are two very different elements to their business, creating the work and showing the work. What Bryan enjoys the most about the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show are the people. He especially enjoys talking to anyone that has a passion for craft and he knows that people enjoy meeting the artists one on one. Bryan talks about the connection a handmade object has between maker and user. “As a designer, you make something with an intent or a purpose”, he says. “Take one of my tumblers for example. I can have my idea, but the buyer will use it as they see fit, such as putting flowers in it. I like that interaction.”

Bryan Hopkins - Best of Show 2018

When asked about his biggest career achievement so far, Bryan says it’s a toss up between being on the cover of Ceramics Monthly and getting the Best of Show Award at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in 2018. Duly surprised at receiving the award, Bryan confessed he was busy eating the delicious food at the preview party gala and almost missed his name being called. “I was really in shock because I know the quality of the show”, he said. “It’s an accomplishment just to get accepted as an exhibitor, let alone dream of winning an award.” In parting, we asked Bryan if he had any words of advice for someone starting out in the world of fine craft. “Define what success looks like to you. Decide what you need in life to be happy. Find a good place to live. Realize you do not get through this life alone. Say yes to as many experiences as possible. Ask for and accept help. Understand there are always people better than you. Know your life is more than the work you make.” Thank you Bryan. Your words are vessels for many to hold in their hands.

Bryan Hopkins - porcelain vessels

Come meet Bryan and see his work in person at the 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Tickets go on sale early May. Stay tuned to the website and subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 10 2019

SAVE THE DATE FOR A SHOWCASE OF CONTEMPORARY CRAFT AND DESIGN

Friday, November 8 – Sunday, November 10, 2019

Gala Preview Party – Thursday November 7, 2019

 

When it comes to the art of fine craft and design, did you know Philadelphia is the place to be? In the heart of Center City in the middle of autumn is one of the most highly regarded events of its type in the country, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Celebrating its 43rd year this November, The Craft Show is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and is a sight to be seen. With over a dozen categories ranging from ceramics to jewelry to furniture to fiber, 195 juried exhibitors will descend upon the city, bringing their fine contemporary craft, ready for all to see, experience, and purchase.

Paz Sintes Textile Jewelry

The three-day Craft Show is not only a feast for the eyes, it’s also the biggest single fundraiser of the year for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Presented by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the event has raised over $13 million dollars in its 42-year history. Proceeds from ticket sales help to purchase works of art and craft for the permanent collection of the museum. This has allowed the museum to acquire more contemporary craft, thus broadening the reach of this important category of art. In addition, proceeds from the Show have helped fund education and publication projects, state-of-the-art equipment, and special exhibitions.

For nearly 20 years, the Show has featured a guest artist program from countries around the world including Japan, England, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Canada, Korea, Scotland and Lithuania. This year, the Craft Show is honored to welcome over two-dozen craft artists from Israel. The Show has something for everyone, from finding unique treasures for yourself to one-of-a-kind gifts for others. Beyond the aisles of the main show floor, guests will experience events including artist demonstrations, Meet and Greet tours with artists, student exhibitions, and a fashion show of clothing, jewelry and accessories from the Show floor.

Dana Bechert Ceramics

Save the date to be inspired by museum quality contemporary craft and design. Whether you’re a fine craft aficionado or new to the genre, we invite you to explore the 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, where there is more than meets the eye.

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Image 1: James Pearce
Image 2: Paz Sintes
Image 3: Dana Bechert

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The 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show artists will be announced on July 1st, 2019.

Still want to apply to the show? The official application deadline has passed, but click here for an extended deadline. Last minute applications will be accepted through midnight on April 15th 2019.

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December 14 2018

THANK YOU TO OUR PATRONS, ARTISTS and SPONSORS!

The 42nd annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show raised $368,000 for the Museum! Thanks to the support of our sponsors, patrons and artists, the Craft Show has contributed more than $12.8 million over a 42-year period to its sole beneficiary, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This year’s Show featured 195 of the best artists in craft and design in the United States along with 26 guest artists from Germany.

Congratulations to this year’s award winners:

Best of Show – Bryan Hopkins, Ceramics
The Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metal – Wendy Stevens Handbags
The Louise K. Binswanger Prize for Best Artist New to the Show – Erin and John Blackwell, Glass
The Cohn Family Trust Prize for Excellence in Glass – Thomas Spake
The Prize for Excellence in Fiber Art – Kristy Kun
The Jane and Leonard Korman Family Prize for Excellence in Clay – Ahrong Kim
The Ornament Magazine Prize for Excellence in Art to Wear – Janice Kissinger
The Prize for Excellence in Design – Alan Daigre, Furniture
The Prize for Excellence in Jewelry – Ashley Buchanan
The Wharton Esherick Museum Prize for Excellence in Wood – James Pearce, Furniture

See all the action from our 42nd annual Craft Show by checking out our Facebook photo albums from the Show and the Preview Party.

Save the date for the 43rd Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show; November 8-10, 2019 with a Preview Party on November 7th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The application process for the 2019 Show will open in January 2019.  The deadline is April 1, 2019.   For more information please visit: https://www.pmacraftshow.org/2018-application

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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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