In preparation for the 2016 artists’ announcement, two members of the 2016 PMA Craft Show jury shared some behind the scenes insights into what types of art we can expect to see this year.
Tim McCreight, a teacher of jewelry and metalsmith for more than 25 years, he is also the driving force behind Brynmorgen Press, a company that writes and publishes high quality textbooks and tutorials on metalworking and design. Currently, Tim teaches workshops and focuses most of his time in publishing.
Glenn Adamson, a craft theorist and historian, recently stepped down after two-years as the director of Manhattan’s Museum of Arts and Design. Previously he worked as the Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which is the largest museum of decorative craft and design. In addition to his museum work, he is the co-founder and editor of The Journal of Modern Craft.
What do you look for when selecting artists for the Craft Show?
Tim: Originality comes first, but it is also important that the work is appealing and well made. There are trends in crafts just as in fashion, and while it makes sense for artists to be aware of their customers and clients wants, it is easy for people to slip into a trendiness that can be predicable and confining. Work that stands out from the rest moves to the top of the list.
Glenn: I look first and foremost for work that has a high level of skill and craftsmanship. It’s essential that artists use their ideas to drive their style, skills, and objects. Craft is not just a showcase of style but skills; it’s about doing justice to your own idea, which ironically is the hardest part. Putting in years of time and work to acquire the skills to execute the piece’s central idea is a key component of each artist’s success.
Glenn, since you have years of curation experience, can you tell us what separates this show from others?
The level of organization by The Women’s Committee; their level of dedication to the show is quite extraordinary and inspiring!
The Craft Show itself is comprehensive and looks at all different media, allowing the Show to be a broad cross section of trends happening nationwide. There’s also a wide range of ages and experience; some artists exhibited several times, while others are students or emerging artists. Seeing the range of expertise at once is amazing.
Can you walk us through the selection process?
Tim: The five jurors were given online access to the candidates’ work two weeks before we gathered in Philadelphia. This allowed us to get an overview of the submissions and set the stage for our group review process. During the process, we jointly saw the images from a specific category, such as wearable fiber or wood. We then scored the individuals in that group. The scoring was followed by the opportunity for discussion. Sometimes there was nothing to say, but other times a juror asked for opinions about a particular entry. We would then review it on the large screen and discuss the work. This was a valuable part of the process and triggered some interesting discussions.
Glenn: After scores are tabulated electronically, The Women’s Committee takes the average scores given by the jurors, which becomes the criteria for the artists.
Any additional insights that you took away from your jury experience with the Craft Show?
Tim: I felt that the choice of jurors was particularly good. We presented different aspects of the craft field and seemed to be confident enough to have candid conversations without fear of embarrassment. I was also impressed with the earnest attention of volunteers from the Craft Show. They clearly valued our opinions and probed for any information that might improve the enterprise.
Glenn: It has been interesting to see the impact of technology on craft shows and the field of craft as a whole. While the internet has been a great tool for artists to do their own thing, it does change the role of the Craft Show as well as museums as a whole. In my career, I’ve witnessed a shift from having exhibitions and museums be an outlet for visibility, to becoming a stamp of approval for high quality, exemplary work.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art does an incredible job of collecting and displaying works in a thoughtful manner. The PMA has been a constant supporter of craft throughout the years, which has been an important thing for the field’s development; their constant support is worth celebrating.
For more information on the 2016 Craft Show please visit http://bit.ly/1U2lWaF