September 30 2015

In this ongoing series of posts, we ask Craft Show artists to reflect on their favorite memories from shows past. Ping Wu, pictured here, is a wearable fiber artist whose work appeared in the 2014 Craft Show and will appear again in 2015.

 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is the most prestigious contemporary fine craft event in the country. You know how good an artist is just by knowing how many years she has been selected to this show. So, each year when I walk in to the show site, I am full of gratitude. It’s truly like walking into a museum, except you can physically touch and even own a piece you’d normally admire in a magazine. You also get to talk with the artists behind those beautiful objects. They are masters in their fields, yet I’m touched by their kindness and willingness to help others.

The truth is, living and working as handmade craft artists is hard in this fast-paced modern society. We live on unstable income and most of us reside in remote areas where the cost of living is more affordable. It takes days to prepare for the production of the show, with a lot of investment. During those days, we have very little rest. Yet at this show we are treated with such care and respect by the committee members. They make sure we're well fed and tend to us like mothers. The show is so good; we are so busy that we often don't have a chance to thank everyone for making it all possible for us, but there should be an award for those wonderful people behind the scenes.

One of my favorite Craft Show moments was last year when the image of me wearing one of my Bubble Hats inside of my booth was put up as a front web page on the Show’s Facebook site. It’s still my best show picture—even without any makeup. Needless to say, I love this show, and I will do everything I can to present my best work to come back year after year.

 

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September 23 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is a leading showcase for the best of the best in contemporary craft, but from its inception, it’s always been an important fundraiser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When you purchase a ticket to the Show and take home a beautiful ceramic bowl or stunning gold necklace, you’re supporting the artist who created this work by hand while also helping to enhance the lives of museum goers.

Proceeds from the Craft Show help support a wide variety of exhibition, conservation and art education programs. In its 38-year history, the Craft Show has contributed more than $10.9 million to the Museum. 

One of the education programs funded annually is the Museum’s “Form in Art” program, a studio and art history course that serves 50 legally blind adults ages 25 to 95. The program, the first of its kind at a major American museum, offers four classes a semester that culminate in an art exhibition that travels throughout the Delaware Valley. Students receive individualized instruction as well as the opportunity to interact with teachers, staff, visitors and volunteers. By providing access to the Museum’s collection, the classes inspire visually impaired adults to explore their own artistic identities and creative goals and the result is enriching for all involved.

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We're giving away free tickets to the 2015 Craft Show!

 

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September 21 2015
The 2015 Craft Show is almost here and we are giving away a pair of tickets! From now until the Show, we'll be running a once monthly giveaway. It's easy to enter. Simply use the box below. Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Ticket Giveaway
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September 16 2015
Jewelry artist Elizabeth Farber was selected in the Emerging Artists category in the 2015 Craft Show.

What drew you to apply to the PMA Craft Show this year?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is recognized as one of the few extremely prestigious and exclusive shows for fine craft in the US. I’m extremely excited to have been accepted as an exhibitor for 2015. 

What do you expect to get out of the experience?

Both inspiration and recognition. I’m truly inspired by the work of the other exhibiting artists and by having the opportunity to interact with them. Being one of the exhibitors in the PMA Craft Show is a huge milestone in my career. As an Emerging Artist in the show, I’m looking forward to meeting a unique group of collectors of one-of-a-kind fine craft.

As an emerging artist what excites you about this stage of your career?

This is my third career in life so I approach my work with a unique perspective. I bring my experience and maturity from other careers and an understanding of what it takes to create a new body of work. This "emerging" stage offers the opportunity to work on defining a creative voice, yet gives me space for exploration and experimentation/pushing boundaries. It feels like anything is possible.

What sort of work are you preparing for the show?

I’m continuing to refine the elaborate collars (woven of gemstone and gold beads) that have become my signature. At the same time I’m working to broaden the range of my collection—creating new shapes and designs that incorporate my hand-woven, kinetic forms.

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September 09 2015

Ron Labaco is the Marcia Docter Senior Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

What’s the most rewarding or challenging aspect of serving as juror?

For me, as an object-based curator, one of the challenges was reviewing artwork from images. Sometimes photography just doesn’t do the actual work justice. Another challenge was the sheer volume: We reviewed 1000 applicants at five slides each!

What sets the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show apart?

The diverse interests and depth of knowledge of my fellow jurors was a great formula, developed by the Craft Show Committee over what was undoubtedly decades of experience. We had many interesting debates, and several impassioned pleas from jurors who were familiar with the work of some of the applicants. 

What do you look for when selecting artists for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show?

It’s difficult for me to explain. I have a gut reaction to work after having juried many competitions. One important criterion was whether I felt the work contributed to furthering innovation in its respective field.

What craft trends have you seen emerging among this year's applicants?

It was interesting to see the number of artists who are working in additive fabrication, or 3D printing. In 2013 I organized the exhibition Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital on digital fabrication in art, architecture, and design to argue that these emerging technologies were simply tools for greater creative expression in hands of talented individuals. We’re seeing that bearing out.

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August 19 2015

Sophie Truong is the mastermind behind Stitch and Tickle and a 2015 Craft Show artist.

How did you start working with leather? What drew you to this medium? 

I'm a mixed media artist and over the last decade, my artwork became more and more tactile and almost inevitably involved stitching. So when I was looking for new ways to make a living a few years back (I had worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for years, doing product development for their shops), I knew it had to be something that I would make, by hand, and that involved some type of sewing. I experimented with textiles. One day, I couldn't find on the market a purse that I would want, so I decided to make myself a bag with some leather I had in the studio, and Stitch and Tickle was born. I fell in love with the tactile aspect of the material, the fact that it's organic and resistant, and that you could make products that are beautiful, long-lasting and functional. 

What were some of your early experiments, and what did you learn from them?

I started making bags right away but quickly figured out it wasn't going to be easy without any formal training or equipment. Classes were scarce so I had to research online and in books. I'm pretty much self-taught. The biggest challenge for me was that learning curve as I often felt I was reinventing the wheel. I still use very few machines and that can be challenging when it comes to executing designs for which you need special equipment. But dealing with those limitations has helped me develop my own style. I've always favored things that are simply designed and well made, and that show the hand of the maker. 

Another challenge has been sourcing the right leathers. You can have a design in mind but if you don't find the appropriate leather, the bag will come out very different from the initial idea. So I've had to work with that while still developing a style of my own.  

What is the sign of highest quality when it comes to leather work? What are some consumer misconceptions about it?

Because leather is an organic material, it comes with some imperfections such as scars, insect bites, stretch marks, etc. Those often  remain visible in full grain (top quality) leathers and, in my opinion,  add character to the finished product. However, some customers are used to manufactured bags produced by the fashion industry where natural marks are discarded, generating huge waste. I personally want to minimize waste and believe that while doing so, you can still make bags that are beautiful. And I hope to slowly change that misconception about flaws. 

What has surprised you about your own work, and/or people's reactions to it?

The most amazing thing has been the customer's response! People have really responded positively to the quality, aesthetic and simplicity of the designs, and their continued support is truly humbling. 

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August 12 2015

Meghan Patrice Riley is a New York-based jewelry artist who mixes metals with textile techniques and a 2015 PMA Craft Show Artist.

Where is your studio?

My studio is located in Greenpoint, a traditionally Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, overlooking Manhattan Midtown and the Empire State Building.

I've set up a full metals studio with a soldering station, two fabrication benches, and a lofted office for all the non-making that goes with making. We also have a mini-kitchen area because snacks and tea make life better.

Why did you choose this space? What do you like about it? What makes it special?

I searched everywhere but this spot was my favorite because it's close to Williamsburg, food, the post office, the police station, the park, and all the bustling activity I need while I walk around taking breaks from making.

I love the proximity to life in NYC but I also love having this respite that’s tucked into its own small-town-esque neighborhood. The studio is filled with other makers—ceramicists, illustrators, jewelers, custom surfboard fabricators, record producers. It's a fascinating cross-section of creatives.

 

Describe a typical day at work.

My typical day starts with a HUGE coffee, a review of paperwork and email, and then I check in with my assistants on the schedule for the day or any questions they have with regards to patterns, making, fabrication, spreadsheets, and orders. But that's where the normalcy ends—it's a swiftly tilting and constantly changing schedule. If we're working on orders for shipment then I'm chained to the desk making and mentoring on patterns. If I'm doing a paperwork day, then I'm focused at the computer and putting out fires. My favorite days have a blend of the two with lots of walking around and drawing mixed in. I also try to not go to the studio one day a week so I can venture out to museums, galleries, and to just meet with other artists and poke around their studios.

What's the most fun/interesting thing you've done in the studio?

Play dress-up! Me and my assistants try on the work constantly and then ham it up for each other. It's instant feedback on whether or not a piece is working and it's just FUN! I definitely dress for the studio in anticipation. I make people come over and I pull mountains of work so we can just play. Because why not? and why else? Hands down, it’s the best perk of the job.

 

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August 05 2015
Woodworker Charles Faucher was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Design at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium? What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

I grew up in the Michigan woods. Trees have been a source of material, inspiration and wonder. I climbed them and sawed them down for building projects and firewood. They’re wonderfully variable in their bark, leaf patterns and timber properties and sometimes large enough to inspire genuine awe. Culturally, we invest them with magical and religious qualities.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

We have had a very snowy winter here in north central Massachusetts and lots of opportunity for "snow fleas"—not fleas at all, but a species of insect with anti-freeze in its bodily fluids—to flourish on the surface of the snow. The strong contrast between the tiny creatures and the white surface reminds me of my ongoing interest in using American holly and ebony veneer to create novel effects in my work. I designed a new series based on this combination, prompted in part at least by the startling appearance of the snow fleas.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

I have had the great good fortune of building a new studio for myself on my property in Pepperell, MA. Since finishing the program at PCA (Philadelphia College of Art, now University of the Arts) in 1976, I have occupied many spaces, many of them less than ideal: a basement in Germantown, a plywood lean-to in northern New Mexico, and old lamp factory in Maynard, MA, a drafty—and mold-ridden—barn in New Ipswich, NH.  I thought I owed myself one purpose-built space: big enough, dry enough, timber framed with 10-foot ceilings and a great view of forest and rolling hills through a south facing window. And that is the space in which I now work.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show?

A mom and her daughter stopped by my booth during the PMA show.  The daughter was especially interested in my work and her mother indulged her (and me) by buying a piece. As the conversation developed, we discovered we had more in common. The daughter was a senior in the wood program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I was there in the mid-1970s when the then-much-smaller school was called Philadelphia College of the Arts. We had a wonderful time comparing program and facilities, then and now. I was able to assure her that a life and a livelihood in wood was possible, if not easy. All it required was a modicum of talent, and lots of optimism and persistence. 

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July 29 2015

 

In this new series on the blog, we ask PMA Craft Show artists to reflect on their favorite memories from shows past. Elena Rosenberg, pictured here with Sue Serio of FOX29, is a wearable fiber artist whose work appeared in the 2014 Craft Show and will appear again in 2015.

 

In November 2014, I was one of several Emerging Artists at the PMA Craft Show. I had an exhilarating, unforgettable, brilliant time. The entire PMA Craft Show experience amounts to red-carpet-style treatment for the artists, starting with pre-show communication from the PMA Women's Committee and the show office, to the support and services artists receive at the show, to post-show bonuses, like exposure on this website for many months after the show ends.

Exhibiting my hand-knit clothing and fashion accessories on the same show floor as some of today's most renown artists (and my personal heroes) was, at times, a surreal experience. I got an opportunity to talk with celebrated basketry artist Mary Jackson (of PBS' "Craft in America" fame), whose booth was just a couple of aisles down from mine. I also got to spend time with, and received a very warm welcome from exhibiting artists Amy Nguyen, K. Riley, and Juanita Girardin—all of whom are superstars in the world of wearable fiber and artwear.

Each day at the show brought many encounters with new fans and collectors, and visits from repeat clients. One of the highlights was getting to style Fox 29's Sue Serio in one of my Rococo shawls for the morning TV broadcast.

Among the most memorable visitors to my 2014 PMA Craft Show booth were Carole S. and her granddaughter. Their visit to the show was an all-day family affair, and their enthusiasm for each other, and for the joy of soaking up the atmosphere of the show was infectious. They were inquisitive about styles, materials, and drape of my designs, appreciative of the work involved in creating 'slow fashion', and just such a treat to entertain. They looked gorgeous in the new merino wool, alpaca, and silk hand-knit hats they had fun choosing. I've been fortunate to dress a number of multi-generational groups of women, and it's women like Carol and her granddaughter that inspire me and my knit and textile designs all the time.

On a different note, I realize now that the dedicated people who are part of the PMA Women's Committee, many of whom I met last November, have directly inspired me to contribute more and more to the arts and fine craft community. They are among the reasons I joined the Boards of Directors at two organizations in early 2015—Surface Design Association and Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I am grateful to the PMA Craft Show and the PMA WC for the opportunity to showcase the designs I handcraft in my studio, and for inspiring my work in craft advocacy.

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July 22 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is thrilled to announce the exhibitors for the 2015 Craft Show. Selected from a thousand applicants, this year’s lineup represents 195 of the very best craft artists in the United States, including 48 artists who are new to the Show, with twelve in the Emerging Artist category, the largest number to date. All will display their finely made wares at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, November 12th to 15th.

Selected works span categories such as glass, ceramic, wood, basketry, wearable and decorative fiber, metal, paper and leather, as well as furniture and jewelry. The 2015 Craft Show welcomes back many returning artists as well as student artists from Tyler School of Art Temple University, Moore College of Art & Design, Kutztown University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

Among this year’s exciting additions to the Emerging Artist category are:

Beth Farber’s textile-like jewelry, woven with precious metals and gemstones

Ahrong Kim’s figurative ceramic sculpture

Chris Hughes’ vintage-inspired bags

Alexandra Lozier’s blown-glass and metal assemblages evoking the natural world

See the full artist list here

Learn more, or buy tickets to this year's Craft Show here.

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July 15 2015
Vicki Essig, an emerging artist from Asheville, NC, received the 2014 Adrianna Farrelli Prize for Excellence in Fiber Art.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

As a new mom, and new to the mountains of western North Carolina, I went looking for community. Wanting to explore my creative side, I started taking classes in the professional crafts department at the local community college. I fell in love with the loom, its quiet rhythm and contemplative nature.

What is special about the medium you work in?  How does it inform the work you create?

The fine silk used in my weaving provides a delicate yet strong foundational layer. As I incorporate natural objects I can create a quiet, peaceful place to explore what is usually overlooked.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

A lot of my workspace is in the woods. I hike everyday, gathering and hunting. I’m always excited to empty my pockets onto the tables of my studio.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Over the Christmas holiday I was happy to spend time with my mother-in-law. She is wise and warm. She meditates, walks and offers a kind smile. Walking in a park near her home I took the opportunity to collect some local dogbane. The pods were dried, brown and gold, with airy wispy seeds. They are now captured between glass, reminding me of that day.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

I am always happy to share stories about my work and how I make it. I am often surprised by the diversity of people that are attracted to my work. At the PMA show a very elderly, extraordinary gentleman engaged with me for sometime. I now wonder where he hung the piece he took with him and imagine his kind nature keeping it company.

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July 08 2015

Brother and sister team Nile G. and Michelle Fahmy of Salt Lake City’s Tattooed Tinker Studio received the 2014 Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metal.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

We’re siblings and we shared a lot of experiences growing up together. From an early age, we were both fascinated by craftsmen, by people who could make masterful things out of virtually nothing. But the people who always captured our imagination the most were those who hammered metal. The resistance of the material, the force generated by the smith, the deliberate striking of the hammer blow — all of these things were magical to us. The skills we witnessed overwhelmed us as being too rarified, too elevated to be attained. And yet, the simplicity of the tools and the availability of the materials whispered a different message: that we could be smiths, too.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

There are many artists who identify with having either an additive or a subtractive process — adding material to or taking material away from a final form. Our work is metamorphic.

We begin our process with a piece of sheet metal and we end our process with a finished vessel. All that we add is our labor, and all that we take away is a drive to further perfect our technique. The faces of our hammers and stakes, the clarity of our vision, and the strength of our bodies are co-conspirators in our creative process. The metal is quiet compared to the influence of these factors. It rarely has an opposing view. In contrast, a particular hammer might clamor for attention and beg to be used. It is this dynamic that guides us through our work. Listening to the tool, feeling the inspiration, and acting upon an otherwise unassuming material until it becomes something more.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

Without question, the hammer rack holds a place of honor in our studio. The hammers rest in the rack with their faces all turned toward our shared work area. The handles of the hammers are all different lengths and different colors, but lined up in the rack they appear like keys on a keyboard, or like some strange xylophone waiting to be played. The sounds of the hammers entering and leaving the rack are the soft percussive rhythm of a productive workday. And when the work falters or the vision wavers, it is the silence of the hammer rack that promises a solution—the rows of hammer faces, lined up, willing to inspire, and ready to restore the heartbeat of the studio.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Our most recent series of vessels is inspired by the simple elegance of a dancing couple. The Dance series allows the viewer the space to have an emotional response to a single line of a piece without distraction. It’s not a series that overpowers with displays of technical prowess; it’s not an overly full canvas. It’s the slightly imperfect balance of two people meeting in dance, each having one foot perched forward and one back—the subtle, non-uniform spin of a pirouette that never makes it onto a stage; the grandeur of quiet love and compromise played out to the music that no one else could hear. And so far, we have been very pleased with the response the series has received.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show?

There was a couple who visited our art booth several times. They were clearly debating the merits of particular pieces in which they were interested. They would quietly chat, depart, return, and chat again. We can't recall how many return trips they made, but finally they returned to purchase one of our pieces. When they indicated which one they wanted, they said, “we want you to know that we only collect glass.”

They had come to this prestigious art show intent on glasswork. They were collectors of glass artists. Glass is an amazing medium, and it is one that we both greatly admire. But our metalwork looks nothing like glass. It was significant to us that our artwork had captured them both. That they had looked beyond their preferred medium and found a place for metalwork in their collection. It was a highlight of the event for both of us.

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July 01 2015

2015 PMA Craft Show Juror Tina Oldknow is the senior curator of modern and contemporary glass at Corning Museum of Glass. She has authored many publications on the subject and edits New Glass Review with Richard Price.

What’s the most rewarding or challenging aspect of serving as juror?

Rewarding: Looking at and talking about work with the other jurors. Challenging: Having to make hard choices, because I know people’s livelihoods are at stake.

What sets the PMA Craft Show apart?

It is carefully curated by a jury of people who do not think alike but who all know the field.

What do you look for when selecting artists for the PMA Craft Show?

Original ideas, quality, beauty. I look for the antithesis of kitsch.

What craft trends have you seen emerging among this year's applicants?

I saw some—and would like to see more—craft emphasizing a design aesthetic. I’d like to see more interconnections between craft and design.

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June 24 2015

Woodworker David Talley of Tenants Harbor, Maine, was awarded the 2014 Louise K. Binswanger Prize for Best Artist New to the Show.

How did you first become interested in working in your medium?

What I essentially do now is functional sculpture in wood. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the origins of the work come from my experience as a young dental student, infatuated with the shape and curves of teeth, and then later, as a boatbuilder and world-cruising sailor, with a deep appreciation for the appealing shape of boats. In the later stage of my boating days, while living aboard ship I spontaneously began making sculptural furniture. Soon after I was introduced to the books of furniture guru James Krenov and began to develop a profoundly intimate appreciation for the visual qualities of wood. Over the years, I have realized that the amazing beauty of particular woods can be enhanced through sensitive combination with other woods and, when presented in engaging forms, can create sculpturally evocative functional art.

What is special about the medium and how does it inform the work?

In what I do, wood is the star of the show. This work would not be if not for the wonders of wood. My job is to present it in as engaging a format as possible. Fortunately, I have discovered forms that by virtue of their balance and harmony reflect some essential wholeness we all, at our core, share and are attracted to. When the wonders of wood combine in these forms, there is art.

What do you love about your studio?

I love the small size and efficient layout of the studio and the intimacy I feel there. It's in the studio, more than anywhere else, that I can be present and feel a strong sense of completion; contentment. It's also nice that it is surrounded with gardens half the year, gets ample direct sunlight and is connected by a breezeway to the house in which I live.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Inspiration for me often comes from a visceral or kinesthetic sense. It's not so much that I can see the piece — rather, I feel it. For the past couple of weeks I've been indulging in a yearning to manifest pieces that are earthy/organic; something like a blend of Asian and African influences. I don't yet have the words for the style, but so far I'm loving what I'm seeing.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

What stands out for me from the 2014 PMA Craft Show is the overall quality of the experience; it simply was a step beyond any other show in which I have exhibited. The fellow exhibitors, the show staff, the organization of the event, the sponsorship, the venue, the exhibitor lounge and the overall energy were all extraordinary.

 

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June 17 2015

2015 PMA Craft Show Juror Don Miller is an artist and associate professor at The University of Arts. His sculpture and furniture works are inspired by a broad range of historical woodworking practices and have been shown in New York, Boston and the upper Midwest.

What’s the most rewarding or challenging aspect of serving as juror?

There are tons of entries, many of them similar. Working with a group at speed really sharpens one's eye for what excels in concept and/or execution—and, upon discussion/reflection, why. This is great practice for both intuitive and considered insight into my own working process.

What sets the PMA Craft Show apart?

The Philadelphia community, a world class museum and the professional and cultural commitment of the Women's Committee; knowledge of the show’s audience and a willingness to challenge it; and great jurors (of course) all set the show apart.

What do you look for when selecting artists for the PMA Craft Show?

I look for work that goes beyond simple technique or blends technique with "concept.” I’m not necessarily looking for “ideas” but an inquisitive attitude towards materiality, history, function, etc.

What craft trends have you seen emerging among this year's applicants?

Some of the best work by young artists exhibits subjective commitment to process, fresh use/reuse of materials, digital fabrication as a tool, and consideration of the dialogue between product and autonomous object.

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June 10 2015

Copyright: Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / BUS, Stockholm

 

The 2015 PMA Craft Show may still be a few months off, but you can start getting your eye candy fix now, with a host of great art and craft events lined up during the summer months in the Philadelphia region. Here are six we’re looking forward to:

 

[FIBER]  At The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Both/And Richard Tuttle Print and Cloth explores the contemporary art of textile enthusiast Richard Tuttle through installations spanning five decades. Through summer 2015.

[CERAMICS] Rebecca Hutchinson: Abundance, on view at The Clay Studio, explores the artist’s concerns with ecosystems and environmental conservation through an innovative paper clay technique that produces delicate organic forms. June 5-June 28

[WOODWORKING] At The Center for Art in Wood, Other Selections: Local Artists Respond to the Museum Collection continues, showcasing 19 young Philadelphia artists’ work in drawing, printmaking, sculpture, video and photography influenced by the museum’s permanent collection. Though July 18.

[DESIGN] The PMA’s Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design exhibition highlights Scandinavian Design from the early 20th century through now, examining the distinct styles and traditions of its five nations (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.) Through October 4.

[GENERAL] On view at Snyderman-Works Galleries50 Years of Works celebrates five decades of the galleries’ history and looks back on memorable crafts in ceramics, glass, jewelry, fiber and wood. Through June 27.

[GENERAL] Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen 2nd Annual MakersFest. June 14, 2015, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lancaster, PA 

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June 03 2015

Rob Cartelli’s functional and beautiful porcelain pottery was awarded the Jane and Leonard Korman Family Prize for Excellence in Clay at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

I first became interested in clay in college. Halfway through a Political Science/International Studies double major, I took an elective ceramics class and was hooked by the end of the first week. Part of the attraction was the contrast of the simplicity of clay work with my more cerebral political courses. Though there are a lot of different design considerations, a cup is a cup in form and function.

I was mesmerized the first time I saw wheel-throwing and I knew I wanted to put the time into mastering it. I just could not stop going to the clay studio. I signed up for all the classes and independent studies I could for the remainder of my college career and applied for work study positions to clean up old buckets and mop the floors just for extra studio time.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

Clay is special for many reasons. It is quite possibly the oldest medium, meaning that playing with and using clay is a nearly innate part of being human. Ceramics are also extraordinarily permanent; any historical museum collection has pieces that date back millennia. I choose porcelain for my pots for its aesthetic quality. I like the clean simplicity of porcelain's color and texture as a foundation for my body of work. I use a clear glaze that softens the surface but allows the porcelain to speak strongly.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

My studio is a pretty solitary place. As much as I like to socialize, working alone in dedicated space focuses me on the project at hand. What was the inspiration for a recent piece? I recently developed a new small cup form for coffee. Often, I receive requests from customers — some intriguing, some not so much. I recently started drinking espresso in small cups instead of drip coffee in a big mug. That, combined with enough people inquiring about small mugs at shows inspired me to design and make a small-sized coffee cup for my collection.

Through sketching and prototyping, I now make an 8-ounce handled cup that I'm quite fond of. It is simple in form and plays with the geometry of cylinders and squares. (Geometry was the one math class I really enjoyed in high school.) I found that, depending on perspective, a cylinder can be rectangular, so the cup itself is a straight cylinder while the handle remains circular.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

There were several potters at the show last year I look up to as masters of the field and having the chance to meet them and see their work in person was a highlight for me. I also loved exploring Philadelphia, a city I really love to spend time in.

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May 19 2015
Doug Bucci’s white neckpiece, part of his Islet series, is made from glass-filled nylon and produced on a 3D printer.

 

If you were worried that technology might be sucking the life out of craft, don’t.

“It’s the opposite. If the digital age was perceived as dehumanizing and the removal of the hand, the postdigital age is about humanizing technology, and using it for the betterment of people,” says Philadelphia-based artist and educator Doug Bucci.

During the Wednesday, May 6th talk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bucci and Ron Labaco, the Marcia Docter Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design explored the ways in which computer-assisted technologies might impact craft as we know it. Bucci was pleased to note the talk drew artists and craft connoisseurs as well as a group of scientists in town for an organ transplant conference—a sign, he says of 3D technology’s crossover appeal.

So where exactly is 3D printing going in the world of craft and what can visitors to this year’s Craft Show expect?

“It’s becoming far more ubiquitous than it was—3D printers are really part of the collective consciousness at this point,” he says. “Within the craft world this technology is becoming part of the artist’s studio. Whether it’s laser cutting or extruding thermal plastics or layering resins, we’re going to see more of this kind of work, because now artists can create objects they can’t create by any other means.”

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May 05 2015

Philadelphia designer and educator Doug Bucci works with a student in a metals class.

Calling all craft makers and craft connoisseurs: Join us this Wednesday, May 6, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a discussion about craft in the post-digital age. We’ll be reflecting on the role of 3-D printing in the creative process, and particularly its implications for crafts made by hand. 

In their wide-ranging talk “Art and Design in the Postdigital World,” Ron Labaco, Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and Doug Bucci, Philadelphia-based designer and educator, will address these and other questions facing contemporary craftspeople.

This free event will be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Van Pelt Auditorium. Tickets can be picked up inside the museum and reserved in advance by calling 215-235-SHOW. Tickets can also be reserved online for a small handling fee. Labaco was the curator of MAD’s groundbreaking 2013 exhibition, Out of Hand, Materializing the Postdigital. Read more about his thoughts on emerging technology in this 2014 interview with the Brooklyn Rail. Labaco is a juror for the 2015 Craft Show.

 

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March 25 2015

photo: Lin Xu, Chance at The Clay Studio

Philadelphia’s noted museums and galleries showcase craft this spring, inspiring everything from collaborations in clay to artistic responses to a single poplar tree.

[DESIGN] Practical, functional and simply beautiful, the wildly popular design sensibility of the Nordic countries has helped define the look of the modern world. Opening May 23, the Philadelphia Museum of Art surveys Scandinavian design from its triumphant showing at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris to the present day in Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design.

[WOODWORKING] The Center for Art in Wood explores new directions this spring, collaborating with 19 young Philadelphia-based artists who work in drawing, sculpture, printmaking, video, and photography – everything, in fact, except wood – to create responses to the Center’s Permanent Collection in Other Selections: Local Artists Respond to the Museum Collection (May 1 – July 18). With this exhibition and other initiatives, the Center seeks to make their outstanding collection an engine for contemporary creative activity.

A single tulip poplar tree is the inspiration for the work of more than 40 contemporary woodworkers at Historic Yellow Springs, presented by the Wharton Esherick Museum, May 21 – June 10. In Poplar Culture: the Celebration of a Tree, the tree that stood outside Esherick’s studio door is honored by work from celebrated artists that range from furniture to woodblock prints and sculpture. Artwork will be available for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Wharton Esherick Museum and Historic Yellow Springs.

[CERAMICS] The Clay Studio celebrates the 10th anniversary of Small Favors (April 3 – 26), an exhibition that challenges artists to work in a different scale: within a 4-inch acrylic cube that provides a limitation that must be rigorously adhered to or creatively worked around. Works by a range of notable ceramic artists are also on display: Richard Nickel and Matthew Causey (April 24 – May 31), Ruan Hoffman (April 24 – May 31) and Adam Field (May 1 – 31).

Snyderman-Works Galleries present A Collaboration in Clay: Pam Lethbridge and Scott Rosenthal (April 3 – 25), joint works that combine the interests of these two artists and friends: Rosenthal hand-building a series of ceramic structures and Lethbridge integrating the forms with her own figurative elements. In Wearable Objet d’Art (April 3-25), Katheen Dustin, a world-class designer and scholar in the history and use of polymers in contemporary design, and a 2014 PMA Craft Show exhibitor, has created a stunning collection exploring questions posed by the natural world of daily life and the material culture of women. And don’t miss 50 Years of Works (May 1 – June 30), a celebration of the gallery’s 50th anniversary.

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