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Rik Allen’s Fantastic Voyages

Kathy Ruttenberg’s Wild Kingdom Fashion’s Future at the TechStyleLab Kids & Art, Together Again December/January 2017

With his sci-fi sculptures, Rik Allen invites the imagination to soar.

Julian Watts’ walnut Black Hole Bowl (2016) raises questions about function, but doesn’t answer them. page 12

Vol. 76, No. 6 December/January 2017

On the cover Rik Allen wants viewers of his Night Walk (2015), and other glass and mixed-media sculpture, to imagine themselves as explorers. Photo: Acme Creative

page 50

Departments 8




From the Editor

Collective Unconscious

Material Matters


Making art to know yourself.

The horizon, like the future, is often visible but out of reach. Monica Moses gazes out into the world in search of artists whose work evokes the elusive line between earth and sky.

Kent State’s TechStyleLab proves that clothes can do more than just cover us up. Joyce Lovelace talks with J.R. Campbell about the possibilities of high-tech design tools in fashion education.

Not all artists go to school to learn their craft; some find their way through other professions. An exhibition at the Craft & Folk Art Museum celebrates nine self-taught “outsiders” whose backgrounds are as diverse as their practices. Joyce Lovelace checks in with curator Jill Moniz.

10 Connect With Us Readers chime in.

Photo: Julian Watts

12 Zoom


Julian Watts’ surreal, sculptural take on domestic objects, and Small Ant Workshop’s landscape-inspired bracelets. Plus: the Future Perfect gallery founder David Alhadeff on the fusion of craft and design; Pete Schiffer on Schiffer Publishing’s commitment to spreading knowledge; deluxe goods for your wish list; winter’s best shows; new books, including The Handmade Life; and readers tell us who is pushing the craft field forward.

Personal Paths The sources of imagery Helen Otterson uses in her striking porcelain, glass, and bronze sculptures may surprise you. Megan Guerber finds out what succulent plants and the human body have in common.

82 Wide World of Craft With a downtown that inspired Disney World’s Main Street, shops brimming with works by local makers, and creative programming that brings art to the public, Fort Collins, Colorado, is a year-round destination for craft enthusiasts. Molly McCowan takes us through this lively community.

96 One Piece Laura de Santillana’s Flag.


42 Bibliophile Hadieh Shafie loves paper, and she knows how to use it. Though the Iranian-born artist started as a painter, the steep cost of canvas led her to discover a practice that combines rolled paper strips, secular Persian poetry, and nuanced color in sophisticated compositions. Rebecca J. Ritzel catches up with the Brooklyn maker.

66 Where Making Matters Today, STEM dominates primary education. But what about art? Organizations around the country, from InnerCity Arts on the West Coast to the Lawrence Arts Center in Kansas, are offering creative education, allowing kids to learn life skills through the singular process of making. Joyce Lovelace and Mark Richard Leach have the scoop.

50 Rocket Man

58 crafted lives

Creature Comforts The line between art, life, and fantasy is blurred to a charming degree at Kathy Ruttenberg’s playful upstate New York compound. Some 50 rescued animals – including seven goats, four pigs, and two “bedroom bunnies” – inspire the artist’s work in ceramics and textiles – and sometimes ruin her furniture. Brian K. Mahoney takes a peek inside her magical world.

74 Culture Shocks

Kathy Ruttenberg lives large. When she’s not tending to her many animals, she’s in the studio making giant ceramic sculpture. Overgrown (2010) stands almost 9 feet tall. page 58

Born in Korea, educated at English-speaking schools in China, and now living near Detroit, Yuni Kim Lang has spent much of her life negotiating her identity and bearing the weight of cultural assumptions – a burden she symbolizes with a mammoth wig. Deborah Bishop connects with the fiber artist for her take on tradition, fitting in, and cathartic performance.

Photo: Fionn Reilly

Using glass and metal, Rik Allen renders oversized, retro-futuristic spacecraft that unleash the imagination. Curious about space travel since childhood, the sci-fi fan adds intriguing details, such as an empty chair, that invite us to picture ourselves on board, exploring the final frontier. Barbara Haugen reports on the Pacific Northwest sculptor’s journey.

433 E. Cooper Ave. Aspen, CO 970.429.4297

Fine Art Glass in Aspen, CO




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from the editor

A Way of Knowing why does art education matter? I pondered that question as we put together this issue on learning and the future. Art is no longer on the schedule at many schools, as Joyce Lovelace and Mark Richard Leach point out in their sampling of organizations that are stepping in to fill the gap (page 66). So what have we lost? What’s at stake? For me, and I suspect many others, art has brought selfknowledge and, ultimately, selfacceptance. Making things has helped me embrace who I am – something I didn’t actually realize until I read a passage in Deborah Bishop’s story about Yuni Kim Lang (page 74). Born in Korea and raised mostly in China, Lang struggled to fit in, even among her Korean American classmates at Parsons School of Design. “They found me confusing,” she remembers. “I never felt authentic.” What? Others’ confusion made her feel like an imposter? Think about this, and the meaning becomes clear: When you’re young, you often take your cues from others. If they don’t understand you, well, maybe 8

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you don’t make sense. I felt this way in high school, where it felt imperative to choose a group – the jocks, the theater geeks, the brains, the partiers – and to mold your identity to fit that group. Anything that made me seem other than one-dimensional – my quirky family, my test scores – I kept under wraps. Because the worst thing I could be, as Lang puts it, was an “inbetweener.” To be between is to be confusing, inauthentic, an indecipherable nobody. The road to understanding yourself and feeling authentic isn’t linear. Under pressure from her practical parents, Lang studied graphic design at Parsons. It didn’t resonate. Then she studied jewelry design – also unsatisfying. At last, at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Lang found her métier – and herself. “Finally free to approach art as a conceptual

expression rather than a commodity, Lang chose to explore her fascination with sculptural work relating to the human body,” Bishop writes. And since earning her MFA in 2013, Lang has celebrated, not run from, her individuality. She makes knots that nod to traditional Korean handcraft, but she cuts them, unravels them, and stitches them into “weird, lopsided, irregular things,” she says. “Because that’s who I am – an amalgamation of all these different cultures.” As an artist, Lang learned to care more about being coherent, or true, to herself than to others. That’s a shift that happens not only in the mind but also in the body. There’s something about the physicality of making that can transform your understanding of yourself. What you gain is a kind of holistic “somatic knowledge,” as the philoso-

phers term it, that’s uniquely powerful. Embodied knowing changes everything. I once took a week off from work to make an assemblage about a theological idea I’d been wrestling with. It felt hugely risky; what if I ended up wasting a chunk of precious vacation time on a bad idea? What if I couldn’t make what was in my head? I worked 14-hour days, stopping only to eat, run out in paint-spattered garb to the hardware store, and shush my noisy internal critic. In the end, my assemblage was not what I’d envisioned. But I loved it — loved it. More than anything, I learned from making it. Not just about the mechanics of assemblage but about murky parts of myself: my spiritual beliefs, my creative rhythms, how my brain and hands connect, how I could transform a wispy notion into an actual, physical piece of art. As thousands of laid-off art teachers could attest, making something is an intense encounter with your own essential, idiosyncratic self. What matters more than that?

Monica Moses Editor in Chief

Photo: Paul-David Rearick

As she’s made her sculptural fiber pieces, Yuni Kim Lang has come to know herself – and appreciate her individuality. That may be a subtle achievement, but it’s critical to living a productive life.

editor i a l


Monica Moses Editor in Chief

Joanne Smith Advertising Sales Manager

Julie K. Hanus Senior Editor

Christian Novak American Craft Council Membership Manager

Mary K. Baumann Will Hopkins Creative Directors Megan Guerber Assistant Editor Judy Arginteanu Copy Editor Joyce Lovelace Contributing Editor Chelsea Hammerbeck Designer Barbara Haugen Shows Editor

Andrew Ranallo Digital Producer Elizabeth Ryan Interactive Editor

Quad/Graphics Printer Digilink Pre-Press

Sally Murphy Circulation Director lega l American Craft® (ISSN -0194-80 08) is published bimonthly by the American Craft Council 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0 Minneapolis, MN 55413 Periodicals postage paid at Minneapolis, MN, and additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2016 by American Craft Council. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written consent is prohibited. Basic membership rate is $40 per year, including subscription to American Craft (formerly Craft Horizons). Add $15 for Canadian and foreign orders. Address all subscription correspondence to: American Craft Council P.O. Box 8567 Big Sandy, TX 75755-9793 Phone (888) 313-5527 For change of address, give old and new address with zip code. Allow six weeks for change to take effect. The opinions expressed in American Craft are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the American Craft Council. Address unsolicited material to: American Craft, Editor in Chief 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0 Minneapolis, MN 55413 Material will be handled with care, but the magazine assumes no responsibility for it. American Craft is indexed in the Art Index, Design and Applied Arts Index, and Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Book reviews are also indexed in Book Review Index. Newsstand distribution: COMAG Marketing Group 155 Village Blvd. Princeton Junction, NJ 08540 POSTMASTER: Address changes to: American Craft, P.O. Box 8567 Big Sandy, TX 75755-9793 Printed in the U.S.A.

Lady With Dog glazed earthenware, 27”x 12” x 12”

connect with us

To The Editor left: The retrospective of 75 years of letters to the editor was a hit with readers. right: Nancy Crow has fans. Our story on the master quiltmaker, teacher, and curator prompted a number of them to get in touch.

History in the Making Your article in the current issue of American Craft was a brilliant history of the craft movement as well as the publication [“Read. Roar. Repeat,” Oct./Nov.]. I enjoyed every line, and it stimulated me into thoughts of my own on the subject – some disagreement, but mostly I thought you were right on the mark. It’s early to comment on the Moses era, but I’m still reading and like a lot of what I read. Your article in the latest issue was just terrific and had a perspective on the past that is hard for younger writers to attain. Congratulations. ~Arthur Mason via email You have now presented one of my favorite articles ever in American Craft. And I did not know that Maginel Wright Barney named the magazine. Thank you for making me laugh and learn. ~Margaret Carney via email 10

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As an occasional reader of American Craft over the years and an ACC member these last several, I greatly enjoyed the essay “Read. Roar. Repeat.” It certainly puts some aspects of ACC’s history in context. Monica Moses wrote, inter alia, about relationships between “art” and “craft”: points of contact, points of conflict, etc. However, nowhere did I see a concise definition of “craft” (or an account of attempts at such a definition). Perhaps craft is like obscenity: To paraphrase Justice Stewart, we know it when we see it. It seems to me that this is another piece of missing context. ~Jonathan Black via email Fascinating article about the reader’s response to articles. Rarely do I actually read the text. (I usually just flip through the images from back to front; my attention span is shorter

than a goldfish’s.) But this compelled me to sit down and read the whole thing. It was a very interesting essay about the different American Craft editors’ takes on what direction works for the publication – and what we makers felt strongly enough about to write in about. I loved the insight into our collective past – and seeing how the unorthodox often became the standard. ~Michael Janis via email I am always excited to get my issue of American Craft. But this issue was especially satisfying, with the “Read. Roar. Repeat.” essay. Your response to the griping art critic was gorgeous – and so important for those of us who feel the creative urge but are always fighting the internal and external judges of our efforts. Your essay renewed my faith in the inherent value of making. ~Kari Nelson via email

Applause Across the Board Make America Craft Again! Oh, we already are. Love when American Craft magazine arrives. A ray of hope. ~Jane Pellicciotto via Nice interview with Karen Kramer [“Native Threads,” Aug./Sep.], curator of the Peabody Essex Museum in latest issue of American Craft. ~Jen Falk via Love [Nancy Crow’s] work; this article [“It All Came Together,” Aug./Sep.] gave interesting insight into an unconventional approach to quilting. Very admirable. ~Nancy LeMay via Congratulations on your Aug./ Sep. American Craft issue. It is the best. The featured artists are so interesting and inspiring. ~Carole Howe via email

J. Kevin Fitzsimons Courtesy of GWU Museum and the Textile Museum

Thank-You Notes Thank you so much for including Olympia, Washington, in American Craft [“Bohemian Rhapsody,” Jun./Jul.]. Beautifully done and very exciting. ~Stephanie Johnson via email Thank you for the recent mention of SwitchWood in American Craft [Goods, Aug./Sep.]. I am honored to be a part of such a great organization and to be highlighted in this department. Thank you again. ~Drew Storm Graham via email

We’ll publish a cross section of your notes as space permits; they may be edited for length and clarity.

Even if it’s expertly tailored, is a jumpsuit practical? At least one reader wondered after reading the interview with Abigail GlaumLathbury (above) and Maura Brewer.


below: Drew Storm Graham’s wooden bow ties have interchangeable parts. S ew Dr

“If JUMPSUIT is the answer, what is the question?” Stellar opening line. ~Courtney Hull via

Keep in Touch


Editor’s note: Check out the longer version of the interview online, Susan. The designers address the tricky issue you raise.

I just received the Oct./Nov. 2016 issue in the mail; the bison image looks great [“Tribute”]. Thank you so much for including my art in the issue. I can’t wait to brag to all my friends/ family! ~Kelly Jelinek via email Lara Kastn

Radically Impractical? Lots to love about American Craft magazine, but JUMPSUITs [“Radically Uniform,” Aug./Sep.]? I appreciate the intent of embracing “ungendered monogarments” – but anyone who uses a toilet sitting down can understand the limitations of the jumpsuit choice. I come close to the same end with a closet of black knit tops and pull-on slacks. Please keep your provocative, informative articles coming. ~Susan Zepeda via email

Shin-hee Chin’s work, part of an exhibition about immigrants and refugees.

Graham torm

Missed a Stitch I love your magazine, and I am very glad to be a member. I especially liked the recent article about Nancy Crow [“It All Came Together,” Aug./Sep.]. David Hornung did an excellent job of capturing the essence of my longtime teacher. She is a force in our world that truly deserves to be honored. I consider her a living treasure. On the other hand, as a member of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, I felt dismissed by the article “Clothed in Culture” [Aug./Sep.]. The exhibition “Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora” is amazing and deserves to be shared with your readers. But this exhibition would not exist if it weren’t for the work of SAQA. The SAQA Exhibition Committee partnered with George Washington University and the Textile Museum to make this exhibition happen. The fact that you failed to mention SAQA in the article is very disappointing. ~Maria Shell via email dec/jan 17 american craft


A timely survey of shows, views, people, and work

Julian Watts woodcarver julian watts never touched the stuff as a sculpture major at the University of Oregon, where he earned his BFA in 2012. “The program was more experimental and cerebral than technical or craftbased,” says Watts, 27. “Some of my installations involved healthy quantities of pink goo,” he adds with a smile. “But I think I was mapping out my future direction.” Watts’ immediate journey after college was back home to San Francisco, where he found work in a furniture woodshop specializing in tables. Performing rote tasks at first, he mastered increasingly sophisticated techniques and eventually was able to trade hours for studio space within the shop “and finally return to making some kind of art.” Watts began collecting free scraps of wood from around the shop, inspired by a two-day spoon-carving workshop he’d taken back in college. “Then I took out my gouges and basically went at it, learning as I went along.” As Watts became more comfortable and proficient with the process, his sculptural training began to assert itself, and functional objects such as bowls and spoons started to morph, turning increasingly more fantastical and conceptual. “Yeah, they started to get weird pretty quickly,” recalls Watts. “Once I had the basic skills down, I wanted to express ideas I’d been carrying around, and I started pushing the form.” Hence, at a show last April at 12

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Heath Ceramics in San Francisco, there were conjoined vessels that suggest lungs as much as bowls, platters that closely resemble a lunar landscape, and utensils that seem to have sprouted strange, even menacing, appendages. Beautiful to behold, the pieces also challenge viewers’ perceptions, as many of these seemingly domestic objects are more suggestive of the surreal stuff of dreams than the contents of a kitchen drawer. As Watts pulls from ideas that have been in his head since art school, his experience as a furniture maker helps fuel his process. Every object starts as an abstract scribble in his sketchbook, which he transfers directly onto the wood. “I always try to fit in as many pieces as possible, and then the ideas continue to change and evolve as I carve, depending upon the grain and the shape of the wood,” he explains. Thanks to the magic of Instagram, last year Watts’ work caught the eye of artist and furniture legend Tyler Hays, who now shows Watts’ work (including his recent handcarved sculptural utensils in bleached maple) at his BDDW showrooms in New York and Milan. And, in a kind of full circle, Watts is envisioning a future where the market for his “pretty, expensive objects” allows him to revisit the making of more conceptual (and less static) installations: “It may be a lifelong process, balancing aspects of ‘art’ and ‘craft’ that sometimes overlap and sometimes pull away from each other – and following where that takes me.” ~deborah bishop

As a sculpture major, Julian Watts didn’t work with wood; a job in a furniture workshop changed all that. His early, experimental practice continues to influence the maple and walnut carvings he makes today. Although many of his creations may be used as bowls, trays, and spoons, their unexpected forms challenge conventional notions of domestic objects.

Walnut Side Scoop, 2016

above: Cross Spoon, 2016 right: Split Spoon, 2016 Watts starts his design process with a rough sketch, but his ideas evolve as he carves, influenced both by the shape and grain of the wood.

Portrait: James Kennard / Vase photo: BDDW

On Our Radar

Familiar and Strange Chip off the old block: As a child, Watts used to gather twigs and chunks of roots for his father, illustrator and sculptor James K.M. Watts, whose threedimensional work melds organic matter with thick patinas of oxidized metal paint.

Other photos (6): Julian Watts

Maple Twig Vase, 2016

His most recent collection focuses on black and white. above: Droop Bowl with Black Scoop, 2016

Squiggle with Black Bowls, 2016

Long Bowl with Black Scoop, 2016

Also inspired by: Watts cites disparate influences such as folk art and the sculptures of Cy Twombly and Karla Black. But nature, the human body, and everyday utilitarian objects remain primary and ongoing references. And the Brothers Grimm: Watts’ other obsession in college was folklore and folk tales, realms in which the familiar can quickly turn menacing. “These stories dredge up disturbing, problematic themes from our subconscious, and in a similar way, I wanted to put some of these weird, strange images into items that we take for granted.”

zoom Product Placement Sulfur Pit, Rotorua, New Zealand, 2015, resin, pigment

Small Ant Workshop

left: Blue Lagoon, Iceland, 2015, resin, pigment


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Red Poppies, Belgium, 2016, resin, pigment

Portrait: Katie Pegher / Other photos: Liz Cowee

vast landscapes have held Liz Cowee’s interest ever since she was a young child in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ultimately, she would channel that passion into a jewelry business. But there were detours along the way.

After graduating from high school in 1999, she was accepted at the University of Vermont but decided to defer her education for one year to join Up with People, a touring musical ensemble. “In high school I was drawn to the performing arts, so when I had the chance to join the tour, I did it wholeheartedly.” She traveled with the group internationally for a year and, in retrospect, says the experience helped her learn to adapt to different people and situations, a skill she has put to good use every day since. Cowee enrolled at UVM in the fall of 2000 and initially planned to make her fascination with nature her focus by studying environmental law. But she

opposite: Liz Cowee uses landscape photos as points of departure for her Scape bangles. The artist hand-pours pigments to re-create the look and feel of places that inspire her.

Nature At Hand In the moment: Making jewelry helps Cowee step back from a life full of deadlines, budgeting, media stimulation, and parenting her young son. Working is her way to slow down, recharge, and live in the present. Perspectives: From being a bench jeweler to running her own store to working solo in the studio, Cowee has seen the jewelry business from many angles. Captivated: Whenever Cowee finds herself in nature, she feels overwhelmingly inspired to create. “Whether I am outdoors in real life or looking at landscape photography, I am reminded that I am only a small piece in a great big mysterious and wonderful world.”

quickly realized that a law degree wouldn’t make her heart beat faster. She switched her major to art history, with a minor in studio art – a choice that exposed her to metals and jewelry. Things began to click. After graduating in 2004, she earned a certificate from the Gemological Institute of America and was hired as a bench jeweler in California, which fostered her interest in running a jewelry business. The next few years saw several moves and jobs, including a stint at a Vermont gallery and entrée into the event-planning business in Maryland. By 2014, she felt equipped to take her own first steps into the business world, and she teamed up with a friend to open Paper Rock

Scissors, a gallery for handmade goods in St. Michaels, Maryland. “When we started out, we didn’t really know what we didn’t know,” she reflects. “Neither one of us had any marketing experience to speak of, but we loved our artists, and we worked very hard to make the gallery a success.” Cowee would have preferred to keep running the business, but the partners had different priorities, and the venture came to a close after a year. “I wouldn’t call our closing a failure,” she says. “I definitely learned a whole lot about marketing and business management during that time, and that has been invaluable.” In the meantime, she had been continuing her own work

in the studio but found herself losing interest in metal-based jewelry. In an effort to stay connected with the craft, she refocused by experimenting with new materials and came across resin. She poured her first bracelet, just to try it out. “When the bracelet came out of the mold, I saw a pattern that looked like a water landscape to me, and my interest was instantly piqued. There was an immediate connection to my long-held fascination with nature.” Since that first pour, Cowee has entirely reverseengineered her making process. She launched Small Ant Workshop in 2015 and now takes her cues from landscape photography, artfully translating those

images into color and patterns in resin. “People always think my work has the original photo in it, but that’s not the case. It’s all in the mixing and matching of pigments.” In the future, Cowee wants to take Small Ant Workshop a step further. “I look forward to creating jewelry from landscape photos my customers bring to me, images they have personal connections to,” she says. “Creating bracelets from those photos would be very meaningful.” ~brigitte martin Brigitte Martin is the founder and editor of Crafthaus, and presidentelect of the Society of North American Goldsmiths. dec/jan 17 american craft


zoom The Short List

Live and Learn

so many how-to books lack contemporary and historical context; so many fine art and craft books, in turn, don’t invite in the amateur. The Handmade Life demolishes this false binary with the kind of satisfying thump a 4½-pound book makes when dropped triumphantly on the table. Co-authors Ramona Barry and Rebecca Jobson are writers Craft in America: “Teachers”

in one segment of “teachers,” the latest episode of the Craft in America TV series, Therman Statom guides diverse groups of elementary and high school youth through artistic exercises. “I think teaching is the highest form of advocacy,” he says, “in Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-Making By Paul J. Stankard Schiffer Publishing, $30

how does a creative person become a virtuoso of craft? Mastering a set of artistic skills requires years – and uncommon courage, perseverance, and grit. In Studio Craft as Career, Paul J. Stankard traces his 45-year path from production glassblower to acclaimed artist and ACC Fellow. 18

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and curators, designers and brief – reinforcing the idea that artists, and, perhaps above all, making is our birthright – and makers who recognize that “our showcase contemporary artists best selves are often found while working this particular way. sitting at the bench focused Complementing the inspiration absolutely on the task at hand – is hands-on help: info about tools, magically melding mind and illustrations of techniques, body in the process.” “design notes” (from material An extension of their longtips to conceptual prompts), time collaboration, this volume and a list of project ideas. Each explores more than 30 materialsection concludes with a fully based topics, from working with outlined project to whet the creleather or clay to origami and ative appetite. Taken in total, it’s beadwork. For each focus area, a banquet that belongs on everythe women offer a historical one’s shelf. ~julie k. hanus terms of influencing the world or having the chance to be a part of something that you can change.” That ethos sets the tone for this latest installment in the awardwinning documentary series, which focuses on stories of teachers engaging and inspiring students – and vice versa. It features Navajo weavers (and

sisters) Barbara Teller Ornelas and Lynda Teller Pete, glassblower Mark Mitsuda, sculptor Statom, and Alfred University ceramics professor Linda Sikora (with charming cameos by colleagues Wayne Higby and John and Andrea Gill). “Teachers” spotlights craft education at its best. ~jessica shaykett

He breaks down the steps he’s taken to earn his place among flameworking masters – from early yearnings through midcareer doubts to where he is today: passionate about helping other artists find their paths. He recounts how he managed the anxiety of quitting his day job, how he found exemplars in history, how he stayed physically and emotionally healthy, and how he found inspiration in poetry and other art forms.

The book closes with brief profiles of almost 50 accomplished artists, along with images of their work and their words of advice. At 73, having earned countless accolades, Stankard says he is still nervous when he sits down to work. The message: No artist’s path is easy, whether you’re starting out or at the top of your game. But with this book, clearly a labor of love, Stankard has made it easier. ~monica moses

Book photos: Mark LaFavor

The Handmade Life: A Companion to Modern Crafting By Ramona Barry and Rebecca Jobson Thames & Hudson, $40

Kitty Leaken


Shows to See The XX Factor In the short days and long nights of winter, shows devoted to work by women artists are shining in Charlotte at the Mint Museum, at Pomona College Museum of Art in California, at Oklahoma State University Art Museum in Stillwater, and at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. CA / Pomona Pomona College Museum of Art Rose B. Simpson: Ground to Dec. 17 Rose B. Simpson curated and co-stars in this show, in which her large clay sculptures mingle with objects from the college’s collection of Native American art to emphasize their common lineage and to suggest questions about their shared future.

Ian Byers-Gambe r

Native American artifacts and Rose Simpson’s sculpture at Pomona College

NY / New York City Museum of Arts and Design Coille Hooven: Tell It By Heart to Feb. 5 Coille Hooven was in the vanguard among clay artists in expressing the joys and anxieties of home life from a feminist viewpoint. In her five-decade career, she has honored both the domestic and dream lives of women through imagery that often runs to shoes, pies, and aprons, as well as to mermaids and fantastical beasts.

NC / Asheville The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design The Future of Fixing to Jan. 7 Fix it? Why not just throw it out? More than a dozen artists and design studios from around the world seek to counter that all-too-easy notion in their work – by restoring an object, rethinking a production system, or recycling a material – and to challenge viewers to apply the idea of repair in their own lives. The exhibition itself, created for a Polish design fair, is open to adaptation and fixing as it moves to new sites; this is its first U.S. showing.


left: E. Miller at International Quilt Study Center & Museum right: Humade at CCCD


20 american craft dec/jan 17

Windy Morris at the Museum of International Folk Art

Courtesy of IQSCM

NE / Lincoln International Quilt Study Center & Museum Amish Quilts and the Crafting of Diverse Traditions to Jan. 25 Amish quilts, sometimes considered a dark (in color) backwater of American quiltmaking traditions, take their place squarely in the many-hued mainstream in this show of quilts that don’t necessarily “look Amish,” curated by historian, scholar, and fifthgeneration Mennonite quiltmaker Janneken Smucker.

NM / Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art The Morris Miniature Circus: Return of the Little Big Top to Dec. 31 The creator of this tiny-buthuge circus of about 100,000 pieces, W.J. “Windy” Morris (1904 – 1978), carved, molded, modeled, stitched, and painted his ¾-inch-scale animals, wagons, posters, and human figures during respites from his farm work over 40 years, inspired by the circus parades of his Depression-era youth. More than just a visual bedazzlement, Morris’ painstakingly researched panorama, with its segregated audience and other period details, is a fascinating document of its day. The circus was last on view in 1986; the museum has repaired and restored it for this run.

Courtesy of Blue Rain Gallery

Tammy Garcia at Oklahoma State University Museum of Art

Edward Eberle at Society for Contemporary Craft

PA / Pittsburgh Society for Contemporary Craft Edward Eberle Retrospective to Mar. 11 In 40-plus porcelain, paper, and mixed-media works drawn from Pittsburgh artist Edward Eberle’s three-decade career, SCC reveals how his virtuosity has evolved along with his ethereal imagery. NC / Charlotte Mint Museum Uptown Fired Up: Women in Glass to Feb. 26 The Mint and the Toledo Museum of Art have teamed up to honor women glass artists in this show of about 40 blown, slumped, cast, lampworked, or otherwise woman-created works from the TMA’s renowned collection, some on view for the very first time. (For a look at one of the works in the show, turn to One Piece, page 96.)

TX / Houston Houston Center for Contemporary Craft Best If Used By to Jan. 15 What better than food, as both imagery and medium, to blend the concepts of consumable and keepable, perishable and permanent? Here, metal munch ies and crocheted french fries are served up alongside embellished bananas and a cast-sugar Buddha that is melting, melting throughout the course of the show.

. Ebe






above: Aurélie Mathigot at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft






left: Karen LaMonte at Mint Museum Uptown

UT / Logan Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art Lighting the Fire: Ceramics Education in the American West to Dec. 10 This show traces the handing down of mastery by more than 20 ceramic artists who also were innovative teachers in the 20th century. The artists, among them Marguerite Wildenhain, Gertrud Natzler, Laura Andreson, Ralph Bacerra, Patti Warashina, and Ron Nagle, inspired legions of students to bold experimentation and to belief in their medium as fine art, leaving lasting philosophical and technical legacies. Nicholas Gialanella

PA / Wayne Wayne Art Center Craft Forms 2016 Dec. 2 – Jan. 28 Craft Forms, an extravaganza of craft in all its splendor and mediums, benefits the art center’s educational and outreach programs. The juror for this 22nd iteration is Stefano Catalani, formerly of the Bellevue Arts Museum, now of the Gage Academy of Art.

body Inc. Richard Good

OK / Stillwater Oklahoma State University Museum of Art From the Belly of Our Being: Art by and about Native Creation to Jan. 28 Twenty contemporary Native American women artists honor the feminine power at work in tribal creation stories and its larger cultural influence, in works of jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, installation, and painting.



right: Laura Andreson at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

dec/jan 17 american craft



Inside Track

The Big Picture

Sharing knowledge is at the center of what you do. Are there other core values that drive your work? We do want to really listen to our authors and understand what their books are – what their work is. For example, What If Textiles with Gerhardt Knodel. [Editor’s note: Knodel was recently named an ACC Gold Medalist. See “Masters,” Oct./Nov.] We’d known 22

american craft dec/jan 17

Pete Schiffer, Schiffer Publishing

below: Schiffer Publishing is broadening its craft offerings. They now span exhibition catalogues, artists’ books, career guidance, and art reference, along with how-to and technical books. Portrait: Tina Berning, / Book photos: Mark LaFavor

in our networked age, it’s a given that knowledge is only as meaningful as its reach – which makes Pete Schiffer’s parents very, very early adopters. In the mid-1970s, the couple was working as antiques dealers and appraisers, amassing information about objects, periods, and more. They realized they could connect more people than just their clients to this knowledge, and pivoted to books. Schiffer Publishing was born. An emphasis on sharing knowledge drives the Pennsylvania company to this day, says Schiffer, who has been publisher since 2008. What has grown is its focus: Antiques and collectibles are still important for the company, but it has expanded into art and craft, architecture and design, science, military history, even the paranormal and UFOs. (The website search amusingly – and appropriately – suggests you “Find a niche and scratch it!”) Diversity is all part of the plan. “We’ve always kept our eyes open to other areas where there’s interest,” says Schiffer. He took time to tell us more about the vision and operations of his unique publishing company.

Gerhardt for many years, but we had never really connected with him about creating books. And when we heard that he was creating a book, we started this conversation. He really had a strong idea of where he was going with it. We believed in that and wanted to support that. We think one of the things you want to look at with a book like Gerhardt’s is that it’s valuable knowledge that has been curated over many, many years, and he is really an authority in that area; we want to share his vision. And you want to support those visions, knowing that they may at times be of interest to a very specialized audience? As we say to our authors, we’re not trying to make New York Times best sellers. These are not all books that are going to be in huge mass distribution. I mean, with Gerhardt’s book, it’s a really focused book, but there’s a lot of great knowledge for a strong audience. How do you develop new books? Do proposals come to you, or do you seek out ideas? It’s a combination. We react to a lot of proposals that come up, and in doing so, we’ll get an idea. But we also do have, I would say, projects that we will seek out authors for or areas

that we know we want to publish books in. We also will create books ourselves through our own research and writing. When I was growing up, almost all of our family vacations were going out to take photographs for books and to work with authors on books. So it’s really ingrained that we can react to ideas coming in, search out ideas we want to publish, or look to create projects that we would drive. That strikes me as an unusually flexible approach in the publishing world. We really try to have as much flexibility as we can, because you don’t want to quash a good idea with your own thoughts. The authors are really the experts. What we do is help to mold the idea and understand if there’s a market out there, and give them the tools to be able to take their concept and ideas to create a finished book. What’s next for Schiffer – specifically with regard to the field of craft? Because of the focus that we had – and continue to have – on books as a creative reference, some of the new areas that we are developing into are books for artists themselves, for artists who are looking for different perspectives – different peer perspectives and different ways to become better artists or think about things. So it’s looking at the creative process, it’s looking at artists speaking to other artists about different issues, and sharing knowledge for those who are building their careers. And we’re trying to keep an open eye on where is the world going, and how we can help contribute ideas that are relevant and helpful to the craft community. ~julie k. hanus Julie K. Hanus is senior editor of American Craft.


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Hand and Machine






Ó At IntoConcrete, craft meets design to create lightweight products – out of concrete. The manufacturing and retail group, with headquarters near Chicago, supports and sells stylish household products from designers around the globe, including the architectural Merge tape dispenser by 22 Design Studio of Taiwan.

to io/In

american craft dec/jan 17

















´ Her studio is in Philadelphia; his is in Oakland, California. But distance doesn’t stop siblings Nicole Cole and Luke Stevens of Vestige Home from collaborating on elegant, functional wares such as their handmade butter knives, designed for generations of service.



Ï What do utilitarian design and vintage Americana have in common? They inspire Omaha, Nebraska, maker Chris Hughes of Artifact Bag Co. to create his classic bags, aprons, and wallets, which are so well made that they come with a lifetime guarantee.

made of pressed wood veneers with brass details bent into a flower’s soft curves, is just one of the duo’s boundary-breaking products.


22 D


D a n a D a m e w o o d P h o t o g r a ph y

´ Tel Aviv lighting and furniture designers Yuval Carmel and Ofir Zandani merge industrial manufacturing with traditional craft at Cozì Studio. The Bloom Light Pendant,


materials sourced from artisan communities in developing countries; the Winnipeg, Manitoba, company, led by Lisa Pointon-Reico and Sean Reico, is dedicated to supporting a more sustainable world.




Je n


m co as aB


Who is pushing the craft field forward?

Ï Right now, I’m

inspired by artists who are thinking expansively about craft, particularly Aaron Pexa and Pallavi Sen. Rooted in glass, Pexa’s work embraces

Kirstie Tweed

practice using printmaking and performancebased video. ~samantha detillio, assistant curator, Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Ó Three institutions

I am watching very closely to see how they move forward with new faculty, updated curriculum, or new buildings are Kent State University, Oregon College of Art and

Craft, and the Clay Studio in Philadelphia. Let’s watch and be inspired by their hard work. ~michael radyk, director of education, American Craft Council, Minneapolis And rew

R a

llo na

˝ In contemporary culture, craft explores the depth of tradition and the complexity of innovation in different ways. Potter Matthew Metz is continually innovative, but from within the rigorous framework of studio pottery. On the other hand, Emerging Objects (run by co-founders Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello) are pushing the material and scalar possibilities of 3D printing, but through a materialoriented and craftbased practice. ~del harrow, ceramist, associate professor of art, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

storytelling through material processes, object appropriation, video, and installation; Sen explores craft through the holistic integration of lifestyle and studio

´ Just one short


american craft dec/jan 17

Ï To me, Chawne

Martha Hoelzer

the gaps between year after launching, makers and supplithe Craft Industry ers and to foster Alliance has grown connections to nearly 1,000 between craft members. (I’m professionals and proud to have been resources that will an early member.) further the commuFounded by Abby nity as a whole. Glassenberg and ~janine vangool, Kristin Link, the publisher, alliance is building editor, designer, a trade organizaUppercase magazine, tion – to bridge Calgary, Canada

Kimber is taking quilting in a direction it needs to go. While quilts have long included images of cultural commentary, her work is opening up important conversations about race,

identity, and politics at a time when we need it most. She is proving how much we all need craft, even when some may erroneously see it as obsolete. ~betsy greer, writer, editor, craft advocate, Durham, NC


Shop Talk

back when “williamsburg” was known more as a historical re-creation in Virginia than an ultra-cool enclave of Brooklyn, David Alhadeff opened the Future Perfect. “It was 2003, and I was 28, and without sounding too childish, I don’t know that I knew what I was doing,” Alhadeff says. “I was following my gut, which was a desire to work with architecture and interior and industrial design, which I felt was my calling. “At the same time, I saw this group of people coming out of Brooklyn making furniture and designing all these really incredible things, and I thought, ‘These people deserve a space.’ ” The space he gave them was a retail shop that attracted immediate attention for its visionary blend of craft and design. The Future Perfect has been credited as a spark that ignited Brooklyn’s aesthetic fire and helped reignite the American craft movement. (The store has since moved to Manhattan and added a second location in San Francisco, as well as international online sales.) “Our real differentiating factor was we focused on American design, and at that time, everyone was saying, ‘What is American design? There’s been nothing since [Charles and Ray] Eames,’ ” says Alhadeff. “Now the question is, ‘Where’s the

next hotbed of American designers?’ ” (His answer: everywhere, because of our mobility, and also Los Angeles. “LA now is to design and art what Brooklyn was in 2003.”) Most recently, the Future Perfect, which operates today more as a gallery than a retail store, has moved away from gift items and toward furniture and lighting, except during the holiday season, when smaller items are sold. This year’s seasonal exhibition, “The Immaculate Object,” features new commissioned work from regulars and the debut of Jonathan Cross, who makes angular wood-fired ceramics. “Design as a field of interest at the level we work at intersects with craft in every way, even at the production level,” Alhadeff says. Lindsey Adelman, a lighting designer who works in glass, is a perfect example, he says. “She’s all about craft, working with glassblowers from the known to the unknown.” He also has people who do both on his roster, such as Jason Miller, a ceramist who also designs furniture and lighting.

Keyed in to the burgeoning craft and design scenes, David Alhadeff (top left) founded the Future Perfect in 2003. He represents designers such as Lindsey Adelman (above), who collaborates with makers to execute ideas, and Eric Roinestad (left), who makes some of his ceramic pieces and outsources others.

“People like Lindsey and Jason have the idea and find the people to execute it,” he says. “They work with the metal guy here and the ceramicist there and the glass person there – they’re fusing together parts of the craft industry. That is a big, huge talent.” Alhadeff works with about 40 individual designers and craftspeople, as well as manufacturers. He’s always on the lookout for new artists, through his travels, referrals, and online. “Instagram is the new website – it’s a huge game changer. I’m finding more and more talent there than anywhere else,” he says. One of those finds was Eric Roinestad, an LA-based ceramist, designer, and art director. “Eric came up on my random

from left: Objects by Piet Hein Eek, Ryosuke Yazaki, David Taylor, Karl Zahn, and Glithero – plus one more by Yazaki.

feed – ‘ceramicists you’ll love’ – and I saw what he was doing, DM’d him and said, ‘I own this gallery, and we should talk.’ ” That was two years ago. Today, Alhadeff says, Roinestad “can’t work fast enough to meet the demand, and we’re helping to push him into new things as well. He’s introducing a new series of lighting born from my personal desire for a new chandelier for my home. It should be quite incredible.” Those kinds of collaborations are what keep Alhadeff poised for future success. ~diane daniel Diane Daniel is a writer based in Florida and the Netherlands.

Adelman photo: Shannon McGrath, courtesy of Lindsey Adelman Studio / Other photos (3) : Lauren Coleman, courtesy of the Future Perfect

The Future Perfect


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collective unconscious

On the Horizon We can’t see the future, but we can imagine it. As a place, it’s in the distance, where sky and land meet. spotted by

Monica Moses ˝ In 2013, April Surgent had an artistic residency in an unlikely place: Antarctica. Struck by the sweep of sky, sea, and land, she took many photographs. Those images became the basis of a new body of cameoengraved glass work; More Than a Picture of Ice, among others, celebrates an area where “the expanse of the horizon feels wholly endless,” she says.

© 2016 Tom Grotta, courtesy of Browngrotta Arts

Ï If you reduce a landscape to its essence, you’re left with earth and sky, demarcated by horizon. Scottish weaver Sara Brennan’s tapestries, complicated

˝ From her perch on the Welsh coastline, Jan Lewin-Cadogan looks out into the sea, “watching crashing waves against volcanic rocks that push their way up through the sea, crunching the sea foam left behind on sand,” she says. That’s the impetus for her lava-glazed stoneware vessels. janlewin-cadogan contemporary

only by their smudgy horizon lines, explore the subtle beauty of this ubiquitous and timeless composition. pages/brennan.php

Horizon photo: Nicolas Guiraud / Wavefield photo (below): Jerry L. Thompson, © Maya Lin Studio, courtesy of Pace Gallery

April Surgent

´ Architect Francesca Bonesio and photographer Nicolas Guiraud, who comprise Atelier 37.2 in Paris, are captivated by the horizon – so much so that they found a way to make it disappear. They manipulated perspective in their

“inhabited sculpture” New Horizon, installed on the Danish coast in 2015. Through one window, visitors could view the sea, through the other, the sky – but could see no point at which the two met. n

ewin-Cadoga Jan L

´ Maya Lin, the prodigy behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has long been drawn to edges and borders. Her Storm King Wavefield, at the upstate New York art center, encompasses

seven grassy waves nearly 400 feet long and up to 15 feet high. The sculpture suggests the ocean, of course, but also a horizon that seems to undulate forever.

dec/jan 17 american craft


personal paths

right: Floral Burst, 2011, terra-cotta, stoneware, glass, 12 x 13 x 14 in.

Mergers Helen Otterson’s sculptures combine divergent materials and imagery. story by

Megan Guerber

Kecskemét Viràgzàs, 2016, Hungarian porcelain, glass, 17 x 8 x 9 in.


american craft dec/jan 17

it can be hard to separate an artist from her work. Sometimes who she is and what she makes are so intertwined, so reflective of each other, that one can speak for the other. And sometimes the ideas that an artist explores in her work are so universal, they might speak for us all.

That’s true of Helen Otterson, whose intoxicating sculptures of porcelain, glass, and bronze explore the power of adaptation and perseverance – recurrent themes in the artist’s life that almost everyone can identify with. Otterson’s lush, seductively rotund forms are both foreign and familiar, a garden of succulents evocative of other biological forms that are, at first, difficult to place. They appear to be plants, yet something is amiss. And our instincts are correct: In her recent works, Otterson, 45, blends not only distinct materials, but also divergent imagery, merging botanical forms with cancer cells. At a microscopic level,

the two look a lot alike, she points out. But she also sees a common thread in how succulents in drought and bodies besieged by cancer both manage to survive. “When I look at plant life and how people react to situations, I see that there is this drive in pursuit of survival,” she explains. “Even faced with challenging issues, life continues to grow and find a way.” Her experiences – and her adventurous spirit – have brought Otterson to this body of work. At age 8, she got shocking news: Her father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and given six months to live. Yet despite the prognosis, he survived another 20 years thanks to experimental

Kecskemét and Bulb photos: Mark Anthony / Burst photo: Jonathan Read / All other photos: Helen Otterson

below: Ruby Blossom, 2014, ceramic, bronze, glass, 19 x 8 x 8 in.

personal paths

below: Lepidoptera, 2012, porcelain, glass, 16 x 18 x 8 in.

below: Balance, 2008, terra-cotta, stoneware, 10 x 8 x 8 in.

medications, a fierce love of life, and a lesson the artist holds close to her heart: “Whenever adversity is thrown your way, charge through and try to find a solution.” Acting on this lesson has helped Otterson navigate a career that has taken her across the country and abroad. She earned her BFA at Kansas City Art Institute and her MFA at the University of Miami, moving on to residencies, workshops, and teaching gigs at various schools and universities. She has also had fruitful collaborations on both functional and sculptural work. “She’s a professional wanderer,” observes Michael J. Strand, her former collaborator and

colleague at North Dakota State University. “She can move seamlessly in and out of any situation in such a fantastic way.” Her success lies not only in her ability to adapt to different living and working situations, different climates and cultures, but also in her embrace of different materials; she understands when to use clay, when to add glass, and when bronze is just the right structural element. Like many teachers without tenure, Otterson has found that what she lacks in security she makes up for in flexibility. After four years of teaching college in North Dakota, this past summer Otterson completed a residency at the Zentrum für Keramik

in Berlin, taught a workshop about merging clay and cast glass at the Grand Marais Art Colony, and was a McKnight resident at Northern Clay Center (both in Minnesota). Most recently, she moved to Kentucky to be an assistant professor of sculpture at Morehead State University. It may seem like a lot to pack into a year, but the artist embraces travel. “It really makes you realize that people are different,” Otterson reflects, and “how we’re similar.” One similarity, as both her work and life illustrate, is the need to adapt – and, ultimately, to persevere.

Bulb to Blossom, 2014, Hungarian porcelain, glass, 10 x 5 x 9 in. Megan Guerber is American Craft’s assistant editor. dec/jan 17 american craft


material matters

left: Kent State BFA grad Delinda Starks produced her senior collection using the TechStyleLab. She won the sportswear award at the school’s annual fashion show.

Forward Fashion

At Kent State’s TechStyleLab, students are crafting the future of textiles. story by

what if you could go online, create your own custom clothing using templates provided by name-brand designers, then have those garments made to order in your community? Or wear workout clothes that could tell you, via sensors and a phone app, when you’re putting too much stress on your joints? Such innovations are afoot in the fashion industry, and the TechStyleLab is preparing the next generation of designers. Part of the Fashion School of the College of the Arts at Kent State University in Ohio, the lab aims to foster creative thinking about textiles in our digital, on-demand age. Using 40 american craft dec/jan 17

The TechStyleLab hosts an annual weekend Hackathon, where STEM and fashion students collaborate on projects. Here, Kent State Fashion School director J.R. Campbell (right) helps a participant digitize patterns for an engineered print design.

a range of digital tools – textile printer, laser cutter, body scanner, 3D printer, knitting and embroidery machines – students investigate new possibilities for designing and making fashion textiles, and the functions they can perform. “We’re trying to experiment with this spectrum of where fashion exists in the context

of new technologies,” says J.R. Campbell, professor and director of the Fashion School. While mass production still makes sense for basics like jeans and T-shirts, he notes, digital tools are opening up other creative approaches for aesthetically oriented apparel. “Within that spectrum, when is it most appropriate to use the digital

tools? Our students have the responsibility to learn and understand how we market and consume products, to make sure we’re designing to the right need, and what the digitally driven design process brings to that conversation.” Back when Campbell got his MFA in textile arts and costume design at the University of California, Davis, in 1996, the first wide-format digital ink-jet fabric printers were coming on the market. He became an early explorer of this emerging technology, notably as a research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Textiles at the Glasgow School of Art

Sportswear photo: Fidan Baguirova and Venky of the NY Film Academy

Joyce Lovelace

Other photos: Kent State University

above: 2016 Hackathon teams present their projects on the final day. The annual event combines digital thinking and technology with textiles.

top: A thermal pullover for skiers and snowboarders, SNO tracks the wearer’s acceleration and calls for help if a crash occurs.

in Scotland. There, in 2008, he led an experimental project with the avant-garde design studio Timorous Beasties, in which customers used a Wii remote to select motifs and create their own compositions for printed fabric. “What we showed the designers was a way to truly expand their product base and customer base,” says Campbell, 45. When he came to Kent State and launched the TechStyleLab the following year, he had that idea and model in mind. Someday, Campbell suggests, instead of a factory-to-store chain involving transporting materials and goods to and from several countries,

above: This bra, another Hackathon concept, includes a temperatureregulating packet that can be microwaved or refrigerated.

digital textile technology may enable less wasteful, more sustainable methods – for instance, a commercial infrastructure where your customized clothing is produced at a textile lab near your home, similar to a cottage industry. For now, the Kent State lab is already collaborating on fabrics with local businesses, and looking at what both designers and consumers will need to know to navigate this potential paradigm. The TechStyleLab also hosts an annual weekend Hackathon, bringing together students in fashion, computer science, engineering, math, and physics from around the

top: Created with TechStyleLab resources, Kara Kroeger’s senior BFA collection was awarded best in show at Kent State’s 2016 fashion show.

country. The goal: to come up with apps and software components that tie digital thinking to physical objects involving some form of textile. At the end, participants present their working prototypes for “a wide range of really cool ideas,” as Campbell says. “They’re thinking beyond beauty or basic performance, to help solve real problems through wearable approaches.” One group designed a garment for people who are visually impaired, with sensors that provide an auditory warning when the wearer gets near an object. Another team dreamed up a watchband for people with early-stage

above: A Hackathon project controlled by gestures allows people to try on new looks without undressing.

Alzheimer’s that can transmit their location to caretakers. “That’s part of what I love about the generation of students we’re teaching right now,” says Campbell. “They want to design beautiful things. But if there’s an opportunity to have an impact, they totally want to jump on that.” The TechStyleLab will present a symposium and “sandbox” for hands-on collaboration in the lab (January 26 – 27) in conjunction with its annual Fashion/Tech Hackathon (January 27 – 29). Joyce Lovelace is American Craft’s contributing editor. dec/jan 17 american craft


Bibliophile In her intricate works, Hadieh Shafie brings together color, language, and her Persian heritage. story by

Rebecca J. Ritzel portrait by

Michael O’Neill Hadieh Shafie includes the word eshgh, Farsi for “love” or “passion,” on her paper scrolls. There may be no better term for the Brooklyn artist’s exacting practice.

For Grid/Cut 9 (2015), Shafie kept the paper tendrils left over from carving mat board to create a sense of depth and movement on the surface.

44 american craft dec/jan 17

left: On the right side of Forugh 7 (2014), a poem appears twice: on the inside of closely stacked paper strips and across their edges. opposite: Transition 5 (2016) presents text in three forms: ketabs (rolls), spikes, and “stripes” (unrolled strips).

Shafie refers to each paper scroll she makes as a ketab, Farsi for “book.”

started,” Shafie says. “I never looked back.” Shafie graduated from Pratt in 1999, but it would take another 10 years for her to become a self-sufficient, full-time artist and perfect her process for making mixedmedia works. In 2015, the Iranian-born Shafie celebrated her first solo New York show – and if that

weren’t enough of a marker of success, consider this: The once-starving student has hired an intern. And she needs the help, given the legwork it takes to collect her materials and the intensive handwork required to make each piece. “The work has many different layers and processes that come together,” Shafie says. Although she simultaneously

Photos: Robert Jason Fagan, courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery

the cost of an mfa degree has spurred jokes about starving artists and ramen noodles, but it’s often a reason art students scrimp on materials. In her early years at Pratt Institute, Hadieh Shafie says she “would paint on anything” – discarded wood paneling, scrap metal, leather – to save money. One day at an art supply store, she came across a stack of wrinkled Italian Fabriano paper that was headed for the trash. Intrigued by the odd creases, she got some ink and started fooling around. That’s when she realized that, instead of trying to paint on the paper, perhaps she could make art out of the paper itself. “That’s when my whole love and passion for paper

above: Shafie calls Spike 8 (2015) a “controlled unraveling.” The 7-inch spikes reveal the script coiled within the artist’s scrolls.

dec/jan 17 american craft


Most of the work includes text, but the lettering is often hidden beneath layers of paint and paper.

46 american craft dec/jan 17

above: A detail of Transition 5 highlights the sculptural quality of Shafie’s spikes and rolls – and the dramatic shadows they cast. right: Shafie’s process is painstaking. Before she can make even one scroll, she has paper printed with the word eshgh and cut into strips.Then she paints the edges of the strips and draws the same word on them.

Photos: Michael O’Neill

prepares materials for multiple works, it can take months to complete a composition, even after nearly a decade of becoming more efficient. The basis for most of her pieces has been scroll-like rolls of paper that she refers to as ketabs, the Farsi word for “book.” “I’m fascinated by books – and reinterpreting what a book can be,” Shafie says. Most of her works feature text, but the

This is a work in progress from Shafie’s Block series, which takes scrolls off the wall. She doesn’t know if the two parts will ultimately be paired.

lettering lies beneath layers of paint and paper. (Hidden Words is the title of a 2014 catalogue of her work published by Leila Heller Gallery.) Shafie’s multistep process borrows from quilling, but also incorporates elements of calligraphy and color-field painting. “Her works really defy categorization, and that is part of what is so attractive about them,” says Lauren Pollock,

director of Leila Heller Gallery. “Every time I visit her in her studio, she is pushing the boundaries further. Her work is incredibly labor- and timeintensive, and that really appeals to people.” Shafie begins the labor in her Brooklyn studio, making a drawing of the Farsi word eshgh, which can be translated as “love” or “passion”; then she has the drawing printed onto paper,

which is cut into 1-by-11-inch strips. Next she paints the edges of the strips, carefully choosing the palette, mindful that her end goal is to create an optical illusion, suggesting many colors, though she uses only a handful of hues on the edges. Layering white strips of paper next to red and orange ones will create the illusion of peach, for example. “The work is about color, on the surface,” Shafie says. “The

work might only have five colors in it, but your eye starts mixing.” When the paint is dry, she draws or writes “eshgh” on each strip of paper (which, corresponding to the ketab concept, she calls a “page”). Once she has a stockpile, she begins rolling the pages into a ketab. She chooses a knitting needle from the jars of dozens she stores in her studio, carefully dec/jan 17 american craft


wrapping the strips around the needle and strategically adding new pages for size and color. Most ketabs end up being 3 to 5 inches in diameter; they resemble rainbow hockey pucks. The finished rolls are then arranged in a custom-made gessoed frame. Arranging them is a bit like playing Tetris, but once she’s satisfied with the final composition – usually a circle or rectangle – she slathers the back of each ketab with bookbinding glue and waits for the finished tome to dry. “To really see a work, I have to make it,” she says. Though she does color studies and sample ketabs, she doesn’t create 48 american craft dec/jan 17

Her works come together in the making; there are no advance sketches.

an advance sketch, as she used to for paintings. Skipping the drawing stage is a big change for a woman who grew up carrying around a sketchbook like it was her fifth appendage. Shafie was 5 when she asked her father to buy her a sketchbook, and she insisted it be one “for adults.” “It was probably the first time I ever touched paper, and I was really excited about that paper,” she recalls. “Drawing and making art were really important to me.” Shafie’s family immigrated to the United States when she was 13. Her father had been an engineer but ended up opening

Photos: Robert Jason Fagan, courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery

For Abi Abi (2013, left), which translates as “Blue Blue,” Shafie dipped ketabs of various color formations in two blue pigments. In the Klimt-like 10 Colors (2015, below left), she played with the movement of color across a surface. Ghalb 8 (2015, opposite) is from a series inspired by Turkoman jewelry and an abstracted heart shape.

a framing shop in the Washington, DC, suburbs. “That worked out well for me,” she jokes. At 47, she finds herself drawing more and more on her Persian heritage, and has been featured in exhibitions and articles focused on art from the Middle Eastern diaspora. She’s preparing for a show in Dubai, has exhibited in Abu Dhabi, and was shortlisted in 2011 for a contemporary Islamic art prize

awarded by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The label “Islamic art” has become something of a buzzy misnomer, however, and that troubles her a bit. “Islam is a religion,” she says, “but my work is not religious.” Instead, she looks to her culture for iconography. Secular Persian poetry inspires Shafie, not the Koran. And as she traces Farsi words each day, she continues to find deep meaning in making her own hand-rolled scrolls. Rebecca J. Ritzel is a freelance journalist in Alexandria, Virginia. dec/jan 17 american craft 49

story by Barbara Haugen portraits by Robertsen Ashman

ROCKET MAN Buckle up – Rik Allen wants you to come along for the ride.

space. it’s the final frontier, as any Trekkie can tell you – whether that means the outer reaches beyond the stars or the inner realms of your own mind. Rik Allen’s blown-glass and metal art evokes exploration of both kinds. Rocket ships, cosmonauts, and space helmets sport the cheery, chunky gleam of midcentury sci-fi imagery, but with the slightly battered patina of experience. Where might these ships already have traveled? Where could they go next? Inside some of the ships are tiny

telescopes and lone red chairs. For whom – past pilots or ones yet to come? Allen’s fascination with imaginative journeys is evident even in his earliest artwork. Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island, he was a “distracted kid who drew on everything.” He populated his junior high and high school notebooks with doodled scenes from Star Wars and fantastic creatures, and admired the cool-looking aircraft diagrams his father, an inspector for the Air Force, brought home from work. \

Rik Allen, in the spacesuit he designed for the 2016 Glass Art Society conference fashion show, ready to board one of his sculptures. The suit has a blown-glass helmet, with beltmounted air supply.

above: Cyprus Seven, 2015, blown glass, silver, mixed media, 11.5 x 9 x 6 in. top: Kepler Optima O, 2014, blown glass, silver, steel, brass, gear motors, 28 x 11 x 11 in. above: Cognus Ocularium, 2014, blown and cut glass, silver, steel, 23.5 x 12.5 x 13 in. right: Glass artist Shelley Muzylowski met Rik Allen at Pilchuck Glass School. The couple, who married in 1998, share a hot shop on their property in Skagit County, Washington.

But Allen, 49, saw his future in science, not art. It wasn’t until he was studying anthropology in college, and taking a few ceramics and drawing classes on the side, that his course shifted. After graduation, he returned to Providence and worked as a studio assistant for several ceramic, glass, and mixed-media artists. “I really lucked out and got to work with pretty fantastic people,” he says. In 1994, one of his artist employers, James Watkins, invited Allen to be his teaching assistant at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state. Allen was smitten with the school, its community of artists, and the laid-back Pacific Northwest. (He met his wife, glass artist Shelley Muzylowski, on that first trip; they married in 1998). He became a permanent West Coaster the following year, joined innovative glass master William Morris’ studio, and stayed until Morris retired in 2007. “He was a courageous artist who wasn’t afraid to do anything,” Allen says. “As a team, we would problem-solve anything that interested Bill. I learned a ton.” Allen deftly applies that experimental approach to his own projects. He begins work on each of his futuristic artifacts with elaborate sketches that evolve with the project – the sophisticated successors of those early notebook doodles. For a typical spaceship,

opposite: Kepler Optima O (detail) is a kinetic sculpture with mechanisms based on solar system models. When activated, the interior configuration whirls around the chair, which rotates in the opposite direction.


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Studio photo: Robertsen Ashman / Sculpture photos (4): Acme Creative

Young Rik Allen drew spaceships in his notebooks. Now he builds what he used to only imagine.

Valenci Four, 2015, blown glass, silver, 28 x 9 x 6 in.

above: Drifter, 2011, blown glass, silver, steel, 25.5 x 16 x 19 in. opposite: Salish Sojourner (2016) is on view in “Metalmorphosis” through February 5 at Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. Allen is equally at home among glass and metal artists.

Helio Centauri, Deep-Sky Maelstrom Apparatus, 2014, blown glass, silver, steel, 28 x 31 x 11 in.


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once the main form is blown in glass, he might let it cool and engrave details onto it. He might cut out windows, reheat the form, and blow a second one inside it, letting the new windows bulge outward, often covering the outer form in foil while it’s hot to create a fusedon metallic skin. Then it’s on to the metal shop, part of the 5-acre home and studio complex in northwestern Washington he shares with his wife; then Allen and 20-year collaborator Jeremy Bosworth – “friend, colleague, and right-hand man” – brainstorm how to make and fit ladders and legs and the tiny telescopes and chairs. “The little chair has now become more and more of a focus,” Allen says. “For me, it’s a placeholder for your mind. You can put yourself there and imagine yourself being in some other space, where you’re exploring, looking out. I think they have a beautiful poetry that’s very, very simple.” The chair itself is modeled after the stackable red chairs Allen remembers from his school days, “that time when we’re absolutely the most curious and the most blown away” by every new discovery. He’s retained that sense of curiosity – which, on at least one occasion, brought him into contact with a world far, far away from his own: As a visiting artist at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, this past spring, he was offered the chance to visit NASA. There, he hung out with scientists, including some who are developing vehicles for missions to Mars and its moons. One of their ship designs especially caught Allen’s fancy.

Photos: Acme Creative

Working with the legendary William Morris, Allen learned to try anything.

Scientists and artists are similar, Allen discovered. “They’re all creative people.” He decided to re-create it and invited the NASA scientists to come to the museum and watch him work. “I realized how similar artists and scientists are in a lot of ways. They’re all creative people,” Allen says. “The conversations that happen are very easy. You feel you’re on the same wavelength.” Allen is optimistic that scientific exploration – terrestrial and beyond – can help humans learn to live in better balance with the planet. “Ultimately we are alone in our own minds, looking out in the world from behind our eyes,” he says. “We’re a fleet of little ships, all together, flying to our destination.”

top: Allen visited NASA earlier this year. A direct result was The Flea (2016), his take on a real vehicle in development for the manned mission to Mars and its moons.


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above left: Allen’s studio bench is home to a collection of objects, parts, and images that inspire him. Fuller’s Finder, a work in progress, almost looks alive as it awaits the artist’s hand.

above: Sketches for various sculptures, including the recent Salish Sojourner. The concept went through several incarnations before its completed form was unveiled this fall.

opposite: The 15-foot Seeker (2013) features one of Allen’s signature details: an empty red chair, modeled after those he remembers from his school days. The seat invites viewers to place themselves in the work and harks back to childhood years, “that time when we’re absolutely the most curious,” he says.

Studio photos (2): Robertsen Ashman / Sculpture photos (2): Acme Creative Barbara Haugen is American Craft’s shows editor.

Crafted Lives

Creature Comforts Kathy Ruttenberg’s home is part art studio, part animal sanctuary.

interview by

Brian K. Mahoney photography by

Jennifer May

overleaf: With her Angora bunnies Igloo and Coquine, Kathy Ruttenberg relaxes in her bedroom sanctuary after a busy day in the studio. She made the ceramic sconce and designed the wallpaper, a commentary on the fate of animals in an age of climate change.

above: On Ruttenberg’s estate, art and animals mingle. A ceramic fox watches over Emma, an African pygmy goat; topiaries in front of the greenhouse frame The Enchanted Forest (2000).

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driving up the winding road to Kathy Ruttenberg’s secluded mountaintop retreat in New York’s Ulster County, you think you might be seeing things. Maybe it’s the morning fog, still settled on the top of the mountain, or maybe your eyes are playing tricks on you – but it looks like there’s a woman, wearing only a bra and colorful stockings, sitting next to a man with a bird on his head in a forest clearing. A little farther on, a larger-than-life plump raven guards a metallic tree. And is that a pair of pants sprouting flowers by the goat pen? You’re not dreaming. You’ve arrived at the home of an artist who surrounds herself with products of her anthropomorphic imagination, whether it’s sculpture, light fixtures, wallpaper, rugs, or paintings. The real and the fantastic mingle here: Next to an actual Angora rabbit sits a sculpture of a rabbit; a watercolor portrait of a pig adorns the wall of a pig’s bedroom (yes, a pig’s bedroom). On the grounds of Ruttenberg’s home are more than 50 rescued animals, from dogs and cats to turkeys and horses. It’s a private zoo that functions as a source of artistic inspiration, as well as an animal haven. Her sculptures explore the humananimal boundary, possessing the stately elegance of Proust, as well as the winsome immediacy of an indie-pop song – simultaneously solid and slight, rooted down and taking flight. They could be set pieces for a Wes Anderson film about a family of eccentric artists creating their own visual language using animal intermediaries. Ruttenberg can usually be found in her studio. There are partially finished sculptures on every surface. Ceramic tree stumps of various sizes crowd the room. A female figure with polka dot legs and stars on her face and torso holds a dead bird; in her see-through stomach, a whole other scene is depicted

Is this the set of a Wes Anderson film about a fervent artist and her animal muses?

in colorful glazes. A daisy with metallic petals has sprouted a face with a surprised expression. A stag in a striped suit sits on a log holding a luminous bowl. The more your eyes wander, the more you marvel at the world of exquisite complexity taking shape. You seem to be bursting out all over – with ideas, with physical output. Your studio is a construction zone.

above: Ruttenberg lingers outside with pet pigs Oola, Boris, Trixie Belle Diamond, and Sir Francis Bacon. In the greenhouse, plants keep company with Origin of Man (2015, right, on table) and It All Flew Over My Head (2014). right: X-Large Lady (2007), almost 9 feet tall, stands guard along a road circling the back lawn.

Yes, the studio is pretty insane right now. Does it look insane to you? I kept getting new ideas and starting major projects until the studio was brimming with bisque ware. I had to start finishing pieces, so an intensive period of glazing has followed. I am feeling really excited to get all this work resolved – so I can start some new work. Emptying my head of ideas by actualizing them helps me keep a balance in life.

There’s a lot of work in progress here. How do you know which piece to work on? I walk through the door and look around, and I become immediately sucked in, without any chance of resistance. I have so many fun projects going at any single moment. If there is any confusion with how to begin, all I need to do is to start to organize and, after about 10 minutes, the creative juices flow. This is such a clarifying dec/jan 17 american craft


moment and a sensation that brings me to that space every single day that I am here. Life in a perfect world means that my studio is always jam-packed with new ideas.

The grounds of your property have a quality similar to your work – wild, and, at the same time, technically flawless. Wow, thank you for the beautiful comment. The property is an evolution not dissimilar to my work. Technical flaws are great teachers; there’s nothing like a failure to learn from.

I see there’s a couple of peacock feathers incorporated into one of your pieces. I do have peacocks; they offer me beautiful feathers. Tell me about your animals. They’re my family. They keep me humble, help me understand so much, give meaning to my daily routine. The animals are a big focus for me; they make me feel like I have a life. How many goats do you have? I have seven. I still have my first goat, Vladimir, who is 14 and still has fire coming from his nose. He is so full of life and such an adorable character. 62

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top: Like her mother, painter Janet Ruttenberg, the artist feels compelled to “work like crazy,” to build a legacy. She spends long days in her studio, which has a wall of shelves filled with glazes and test tiles.

above and right: In Ruttenberg’s home, predator and prey exist in happy companionship. They mingle in her Pursuit chandelier (2009), while Arnot the cat rests on a Ruttenberg rug, inches from a large rat (opposite).

The wall behind your bed is covered in wallpaper of your own design, depicting a bustling forest scene that incorporates many of the critters found in the woods around your home. This wallpaper is a reflection of my concern for the wildlife of the world. Because of globalization and global warming, animals will have to adapt to the changing environment or each of their species will fail. The wallpaper not only has local species but every species

I like from all parts of the world. The drawing I did for the wallpaper design is called Adaptations. So there’s Trixie the house pig. How many pigs do you have? I have four pigs. Trixie lives in the house, and the other three live in the front of my studio. They are really fun, and I love how much personality they each have. But they do need a lot of attention. What’s it like living with all these animals? It’s a fascinating aspect of my life at this point. I really enjoy how each species has an intelligence that reflects a speciesspecific instinct, and each animal or bird has a unique personality. It takes me outside of myself to see another perspective. I think being so close to these animals has influenced my work and thus the anthro-

Being so close to her animals has shaped Ruttenberg’s work. Her connection to them is “quite profound.”

above: On a wall in Ruttenberg’s studio, a ceramic frame surrounds Study For Fertile Ground (2016), while works in progress sit beside the reclining sculpture Me and a Tree (2015). The artist’s anthropomorphic works are inspired by nature and her passion – and respect – for animals.

pomorphic vision. There is a mental communication that is quite profound. You make all this stuff that you’re surrounded by every day – sculptures, rugs, chandeliers, wallpaper . . . I love to see my vision translated into many media. It’s interesting how the language of each thing translates differently. Besides making me feel dynamic, it is fun to live in my world. I wish I could have more of it, but things on the floor and furniture get destroyed. [Points to a battered armchair.] That was a really pretty chair, and now the rabbits jump on it. So the idea to reupholster it with fabric of my design has been shelved for the time being. Do you ever feel the need to escape your house, filled as it is with your own work? dec/jan 17 american craft


Do you entertain much? Yeah, but right now I can’t even imagine it. But I do. I love it when I have people over. I am just so involved in my work right now. It keeps getting more and more intense. But hopefully soon I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. Because I am so close to my mother [Janet Ruttenberg, also an artist], I feel like I’ve adopted her determination – she’s 85 – to work like crazy. She feels like she has to leave a legacy. I feel that, too. I feel like time is running out. Is there ever a time where you are not creating something? A friend told me, “You need to get creatively blocked so you can have a vacation.” I feel, though, a good vacation is where I come home with a notebook of watercolors and a head full of visions.

Ruttenberg’s “era of intense creativity” here has lasted more than 20 years.

What’s your favorite spot on your property? I am in so many places in my day; it’s hard to choose. The forest is my idea maker – I walk in the woods every day and end my walk running right to my notebook to sketch or make notes. My studio is magnificent and is pure, pure magic, with north light! The minute it was built I started this era of intense creativity, and that has been going strong for more than 20 years. My bedroom is a sanctuary of sleep and leporine dreams. Two bedroom bunnies, as I refer to them, are my charmed roommates.

Sometimes I feel anxious to get out of town to change my vision. But this is not because my art is everywhere; it is more that the break in routine is necessary to be able to see what you are doing with a fresh eye. My life here is so much more than the house. I spend an enormous amount of time in my studio and outside. You spend most of your time here in the studio? Yes, I spend the majority of my time here in the studio. I do my watercolors in the house in the evenings, though.

Brian K. Mahoney is the editor of Chronogram, a lifestyle magazine covering the Hudson Valley.

top: Noodles is one of seven goats who live on the property. Their accommodations include the ceramic planter at the entry to their shed. 64 american craft dec/jan 17

center: Sketches for a ceramic plate. Although Ruttenberg’s primary medium is ceramics, she loves to translate her vision into other mediums.

above: The artist and Roulette, her black Russian terrier, relax in the living room. She’d love to cover more furniture with fabric she’s designed, but the animals don’t always respect the furnishings.

right: Trixie, Ruttenberg’s beloved “house pig,” has her own bedroom. Her cushy life makes the “outdoor pigs” jealous, Ruttenberg says, and they are often quite vocal about it.


As schools have focused more on testing, math, and science, other groups have come forward to nurture kids’ creativity.



Neal Barbour

it’s no secret that the arts are disappearing from American classrooms. In today’s highstakes testing culture, public schools are under pressure to devote instruction time to subjects deemed more important, such as math and science. Many argue, however, that the decline of K – 12 arts education does a disservice to schoolchildren, and not just those with an artistic bent. Research (and everyday experience) suggests that art makes us happier, less stressed, more productive. James Catterall’s landmark 2009 study, Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art, strongly connected arts learning with both academic success and social engagement, especially for low-income students. And lately creativity is being tied to innovative thinking across disciplines: The STEM-toSTEAM movement calls for adding arts to an integrated curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and math. As the National Art Education Association asserts, “to be successful in STEM-related career fields, students must be proficient in visual thinking and creative problem-solving facilitated by a strong visual art education.” In other words, art makes us smart.

stories by

Joyce Lovelace and Mark Richard Leach

At Lawrence Arts Center, Ari Mattes built a musical instrument using a simple circuit board; by grounding the wires to his face, he becomes part of the instrument.

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Bob Bates goes into a kind of reverie when he looks back on the origins of Inner-City Arts some 35 years ago. He was around 40 then, an army veteran turned artist, living with his wife in a loft in downtown Los Angeles. “One evening I was meditating,” he recalls, “and in the silence I heard a man’s voice say, ‘Get an arts space for kids.’ One time, with no further instructions.” He carried the idea around for a while, but did nothing about it. Then he had a vivid dream. “Three women and three men walked up to me and said, ‘Bob, we have given you five years to start this project. If you don’t do it soon, we are taking it away from you and giving it to somebody who can make it happen, because we want this school to be started on planet Earth.’ That’s very far out,” he concedes with a smile, “but there it is.” In 1989, with help from businessman and arts patron Irwin Jaeger, Bates heeded that mystical call and founded Inner-City Arts in a small space downtown. Today it’s a vibrant complex of sleek studio buildings designed by architect Michael Maltzan, an urban oasis of beauty, safety, and creativity, right next to Skid Row. There, thousands of mostly Latino and African American children and teenagers from some of LA’s poorest neighborhoods – most of whom receive little or no art instruction in school – can access first-rate facilities in visual, performing, and media arts. Through a partnership with the Los Angeles 68 american craft dec/jan 17

Iwan Baan Iwan Baan


Unified School District, K – 8 students and their classroom teachers are brought to InnerCity Arts twice a week for seven-week sessions. Middle and high schoolers can get scholarships to take after-school and weekend workshops in everything from painting and ceramics to dance and digital design. And teachers come for professional development, to learn how the arts can be a bridge to academic success, especially in high-poverty schools. For Bates, the place and its programs serve both a practical need and a higher purpose. “In the beginning, I thought art was about a good experience making cool things,” he says. “But over the years I’ve observed that art is the major tool for opening the possibilities of invention, creation, exploration. Once that switch is thrown, people have a curiosity that will last a lifetime. They will solve problems, work in teams, do things” – and maybe, he hopes, become “more human, compassionate, and merciful” along the way. These days he’s excited about the new Creativity Lab, an art-meets-science studio where youngsters apply the scientific method – “create a test, evaluate, adjust” – to design and engage in hands-on making. Chockablock with tensegrity structures, kinetic contraptions, and miniature 3D-printed robots, the lab was launched with $1 million from Disney, whose Imagineers come almost every term to spend a few days working with the kids. (Inner-City Arts also gets strong support from Hollywood heavyweights: Its Rosenthal Theater was funded by the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Indiana Jones screenwriters drop in on the filmmaking courses.) At Inner-City Arts, children can explore not just materials and methods, but also their own identity and potential. One

Eric Minh Swenson

So if evidence points to the benefits of art education, but schools are short on time and money, how do we get it to kids in a substantive way? Dedicated organizations and individuals are stepping up with various solutions to fill the gap. Here, we highlight a few inspiring models.

In the heart of downtown LA (left), InnerCity Arts provides art education for children and teens living in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. By partnering with the school district, the center brings students in for classes that develop creative thinking, as well as providing professional development for teachers. Its urban complex (below) was designed by architect Michael Maltzan.


above: Each Inner-City Arts session ends with a student performance, attended by teachers and administrators, family and friends. left: The Learning and Achieving Through the Arts program develops skills in the visual arts. Art implants a “curiosity that will last a lifetime,” Inner-City Arts co-founder Bob Bates says. above right: Bates helps a student in the Creativity Lab, where kids learn how to design and make their own machines, combining art and science. right: Students in this fibers workshop learn a meditative approach to macramé skills.

Courtesy of Inner-City Arts (2)

Eric Minh Swenson

Art, uniquely, opens “the possibilities of invention, creation, exploration.”

LAWRENCE ARTS CENTER Lawrence, Kansas Residents of Lawrence, Kansas, pride themselves on their small city’s big cultural life: the University of Kansas and its art museum, the little theater troupes, the popular downtown gallery walks on the last Friday of every month, the exceptionally strong art programs in the public schools. To top it off, there’s the Lawrence Arts Center, a 40,000-square-foot facility that offers exhibitions, performances, and a diverse program of year-round art education, including a unique arts-based preschool and kindergarten. “One thing I try to infuse into our programming is the power of imagination – believing in possibility, pushing yourself to do things that are grand,” says Neal Barbour, the center’s director of youth education for first through 12th grades. A printmaker and ceramist, Barbour came to Lawrence from the Northwest five years ago (after his job as a school art teacher was cut), with a mandate to develop a STEAM curriculum at the center. He convened a group of artists and scientists to look at science, technology, engineering, and math subjects through an arts lens, which led to some 200 lesson plans now taught in the center’s well-equipped studios. One class examines the science 70

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Preschool director Linda Reimond (top) and youth education director Neal Barbour (center) watch as a student in the arts-based preschool paints.

of camera shutter speed through the “light drawings” Picasso created with a Life magazine photographer in 1949. In another, students engineer robots that move through the force of vibration, drawing pictures with their feet. “We view ourselves as an extension of the public school education system here,” Barbour says. Cultivating that two-way street means offering subjects not taught in the schools (printmaking, fashion design, sculpture), sending the center’s resident artists into classrooms as guest teachers, and providing teens with realworld art experiences, such as helping to curate shows in the community. It also entails reaching out to kids who need art the most, particularly in rural areas. ���A big part of our mission is access and equity,” says Barbour. “We’re here to provide support, activities, and enriching educational opportunities for anybody who wants to be in this building.” “Kids, art, play – they all go together,” says Barbour’s colleague Linda Reimond, the founder and longtime director

of the center’s arts-based preschool, recently named in her honor. Reimond was an earlychildhood teacher and had a toddler at home when she started the school in 1985, with a class of 18 pupils. With about 120 preschoolers enrolled today, the school inspires children ages 3 to 5 to learn through music, movement, storytelling, and hands-on making. “We let them discover,” says Reimond. “A child at the easel will mix a blue and a yellow and then gasp – ‘I made green!’ ” Each classroom has a Creation Station, where little hands go wild concocting objects out of old CDs, paper-towel tubes, all manner of household junk. “Houses, rockets, robots – whatever they imagine, they have to figure out, make those parts fit together. Well, that’s science, engineering, and math. They tell stories about what they’ve made, we write them down, they point to the words, and – oh gosh, that’s reading.” The arts open the door to academic skills. For her work developing this approach, Reimond was one of 10 winners of the Henry Ford Teacher Innovator Award in 2015. In Detroit for the ceremony, she toured the nearby Ford plant. “We were looking at F-150 trucks being made on an assembly line by all these computers and robots,” she recalls. “Suddenly it hit me: In 20 years, no job will look the same as it does now. So what life skills can we give the kids we’re teaching now?” She came up with five essentials: problem solving, creative thinking, communication, teamwork, and social skills – “Those are the things kids need.” And early exposure to the wonders of art is important grounding. “Music teaches us to listen. Visual arts teach us to see. Dance teaches us to move with joy. Literature and drama teach us to see through other people’s eyes. And maybe that makes us more human.” ~jl

Neal Barbour and Lawrence Arts Center students

Marlo Angell

student made a self-winding wooden top in the Creativity Lab, then took it home and showed it to her grandfather, who was so impressed he started taking her into his own woodshop to build things. “That little girl could wind up becoming a mechanical engineer,” Bates marvels. Ever the visionary, he adds, “Or she could be somebody who designs something for a colony on Mars. Who knows?” ~jl

Neal Barbour (4)

top: High school students screenprint promotional T-shirts for their curatorial group, which puts on monthly gallery shows. center: This camp, with an African wildlife theme, combined principles of color and harmony with biodiversity and ecosystems. left: Inspired by Picasso, a fourth-grader ďŹ rst practiced a continuous line drawing on paper before bringing it to life with the help of LED lights and a camera set to a slow shutter speed.

above right: At Art Detectives camp, third-graders solve a painting theft using practices grounded in forensic science. right: Isaac Outka peers out of his cardboard replica of the Louvre, which features several of the museum’s most famous paintings in miniature. He made the structure during an urban planning and architecture camp.

Josh Miller (left) / Bailey West (right)

STEAM EXCHANGE Louisville, Kentucky Caitlin Kannapell and Rachel Mauser believe in taking art to the people. Since launching a nonprofit community maker space called the Steam Exchange, they’ve become fixtures around the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. They chat up residents on the street, urging them to come take classes or enjoy open studio time. Sometimes, to draw folks in, they wheel out the hot-dog cart they converted into a mobile screen-printing studio. All ages are welcome, but Kannapell and Mauser are especially determined to engage local youth. “Rachel and I have a huge amount of respect for young people. We love, love, love kids,” says Kannapell. “Making sure they have a voice, feel respected, and understand their true capacity is really important to us.” At Steam Exchange headquarters (a former liquor store the women fixed up with help from neighbors), children and young adults can take free 72

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left: Caitlin Kannapell (left) and Rachel Mauser with their mobile screenprinting cart. The duo’s nonprofit space serves as a community art incubator. right: Steam Exchange youth and volunteers repurpose old tires found in the neighborhood to use as flower planters.

classes, some approaching STEM subjects through creativity, others simply art for art’s sake. Middle schoolers and teens from the neighborhood can also serve on a Youth Vision committee to plan their own projects in the community – a mural, for instance – and take part in public events. “Art is a wonderful means to holistically support youth,” observes Mauser. “It’s about doing well in school, having something they feel proud of, keeping busy in a productive way. Being empowered, leaders. Especially in a place that doesn’t necessarily have all the amenities and resources of wealthier neighborhoods.” The two friends were each looking for a meaningful way to promote artmaking at the grass roots when they teamed up to

start the Steam Exchange in 2014. Kannapell had a math degree and had taught various academic subjects in non-traditional learning environments. Mauser, an artist and bookbinder, had just finished a fellowship at Penland School of Crafts. They decided to focus on Smoketown, the oldest historically African American neighborhood in Louisville, named for the kilns of its old days as a brickmaking hub. With startup money from IDEAS 40203 (an artist-led group promoting creative entrepreneurship) and YouthBuild Louisville, “we went for it,” says Mauser. First, though, they talked to people on the ground. “We didn’t just come in, set up shop, and say, ‘This is what you need and what we’re going to do,’ ” says Kannapell. “We said, ‘These are the skills we have. What are you interested in? What do you feel the neighborhood needs? What do you as a young person want to do or learn?’ Every component of our programming is deeply rooted in this process of collaboration.”

Caitlin Kannapell wants kids to “have a voice, feel respected, and understand their true capacity.”

Two years on, the results are “diverse and surprising, beyond what we originally imagined,” Kannapell says. Classes have ranged from mosaic art to sewing to digital coding. Students have designed and painted a 40-foot outdoor mural. In a joint project with Mobile Print Power, a screen-printing collective in New York City, kids made an edition of art books on the theme “What does it mean to be a minority?” Steam Exchange currently serves a core group of about 30 young people, and a broader word-of-mouth network of up to 150. For now, Kannapell and Mauser teach most of the classes themselves, and are comfortable with slow, steady growth. “We were very clear that we didn’t want to rush these relationships. We wanted them to

Will Melnick David Dashiell

David Dashiell

above: Jesse Fleming’s Mirror Mirror (2014) uses a calland-response activity to create a connection between partners.

be natural and real. So we’ve been organic in the way we meet the people we work with,” says Mauser. “We know we’re in it for the long haul.” ~jl KIDSPACE North Adams, Massachusetts At Kidspace, a child-centered gallery in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, art is changing lives. “Kidspace is about showing how art isn’t a separate category of our lives, but part of our everyday experience,” says director of education Laura Thompson. “It’s a vehicle that people can use to communicate, to problem-solve challenges in their everyday lives.” The museum’s community program, Art 4 Change, engages children through art to promote empathy, optimism, and courage – qualities Thompson thinks are essential to tackling today’s problems. At Kidspace, art sparks conversations about social issues that affect many children, their families, and their neighborhoods, as well as society at large.

At MASS MoCA’s Kidspace, exhibitions encourage kids to look at life from new perspectives. For the show “Here Comes the Sun” (above), Federico Uribe used materials that often have negative associations and assembled them into entirely different forms. His lifelike lion (right), made of bullets, can be the start of conversations about difficult subjects such as violence.

Now through spring, two concurrent exhibitions light up Kidspace and animate the principles that A4C seeks to advance. In the show “Here Comes the Sun,” Federico Uribe’s On Good Faith playfully summons visitors to examine the sculpture’s form (a lion), materials, and meanings. His meticulously assembled sculpture of brass bullet casings, shotgun shells, plastic flowers, and feathers uses beauty and intrigue to explore violence, among other subjects. Nick Cave’s “Kaleidoscopic Playground” riffs on the optical repetition and symmetrical patterns that kaleidoscopes create, surrounding visitors in a colorful, fun-house-like

environment. Mirrored silhouettes of children cast visitors’ reflections, appearing with word prompts such as “special,” “other,” “until,” or “as is.” The words invite visitors to use personal experience and knowledge to create their own meaning and insight. With these lighthearted works, the artists encourage guests not to succumb to the fear, anger, and hopelessness that violence, racial strife, homelessness, and hunger can bring. Instead, they appeal to visitors to take the optimism and joy they find at Kidspace and use it as fuel to achieve their potential and lift up others. An A4C handout encourages kids to take their Kidspace

experience home, to “plant seeds of joy.” One suggested activity: “For the next 10 nights, share with someone something good that happened to you during the day and also something good that you did for someone else.” A4C is also designed to engage students and teachers of two local school districts. As one North Adams middle schooler, reflecting on a recent visit to the gallery, wrote: “In my thoughts, optimism is the way you look at something. … It feels like you can choose what to do, what to feel & what to accept. I need to look at all the stuff I can do, not the stuff I can’t. I want to live a great future and I look at a glass halffull, not half-empty.” ~mrl about-kidspace/ A former museum administrator, Mark Richard Leach writes about visual arts and is an independent curator and consultant. He lives near Charlotte, North Carolina. Joyce Lovelace is American Craft’s contributing editor. dec/jan 17 american craft


Culture Shocks Yuni Kim Lang’s massive, hair-like sculptures explore issues of identity, belonging – and the ties that bind. story by

Deborah Bishop portrait by

Brian Kelly Yuni Kim Lang uses polypropylene rope and other materials to dissect her complex relationship to the three cultures she grew up in – Korean, Chinese, and American. She presents her sculptures as photographs rather than as objects and makes performance a part of her practice, placing the act of making in a new context.

Comfort Hair photo: Tim Thayer, courtesy of the artist

Comfort Hair – Mapping, 2013


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she learned to speak both Chinese and unaccented American English. Returning to Korea over the years, Lang was singled out, sometimes teased cruelly, by other children. “It’s a very traditional, homogenous society. Even though I looked the same, they knew I was different. I couldn’t fake it.” At the same time, she remembers being told that she shouldn’t act a certain way, or speak her mind, because it wasn’t considered “ladylike” in Korean culture. “And always, these endless lectures by my mother and grandmother that I must never, ever, cut or dye my hair,

because it’s what makes me ‘special,’ ” Lang recalls. Although Lang felt more comfortable as an expat among other expat students in China and later in New York – where she moved in 2004 to attend Parsons School of Design – she never shed her feeling of being an “in-betweener”: someone who isn’t entirely at home in any culture. “Even at art school, the Korean Americans shared a popular culture I wasn’t part of, and they found me confusing. I never felt authentic.” Although she had wanted to pursue fine arts at Parsons, Lang’s parents insisted she

choose the more commercial field of graphic design. After graduation, Lang embarked on a jewelry design course at the Fashion Institute of Technology, leaving after a year for a job with the commercial jewelry company Nadri, which she found creatively unsatisfying. Soon thereafter, Lang met her husband-to-be, Alec, and they moved to his hometown of Bloomfield Hills – fortuitously, also home to Cranbrook Academy of Art. Finally free to approach art as a conceptual expression rather than a commodity, Lang decided to explore her fascination with

Photos: Tim Thayer, courtesy of the artist

yuni kim lang, a 30-year-old textile artist based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has an intimate, if complicated, relationship with hair. Born in Seoul to Korean parents, she is endowed with the thick, black, shiny locks that are both a sign of her identity and a symbol of the weight of cultural assumptions that have been imposed on her. A self-described “thirdculture kid,” Lang spent many of her formative years in China, where her father was an executive for Samsung. Educated at international schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing,

In Lang’s Comfort Hair series, the object – a massive wig – requires a performer to complete the work. The bulk and weight of the wig represent both the comfort and burden of cultural identity.

left: Comfort Hair – Nest, 2013 right: Comfort Hair – Woven Identity 1, 2013

Self Portrait, 2013

Tangled Knot, 2013

Hair Knot, 2013

sculptural work relating to the human body, and she earned her MFA in 2013. For the first assignment, her professor, Iris Eichenberg, encouraged students to grab any material they found inspiring and just start making something. “I went to the hardware store, and immediately fell in love with this cheap black polypropylene rope,” says Lang. “And I started making these knots, not knowing what I was doing or where I was going.” Although knotting is a traditional Korean handcraft, it was nothing that Lang had ever studied. However, other 78

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students assumed she must have learned it at the knees of her relatives, and that her medium was surely expensive black silk shipped from the homeland. “Part of me wished I could say yes! But this person you’re looking at, who looks so Asian, with the long black hair, that’s not my story. But I have other beautiful stories to tell. “So I taught myself how to make these knots, in order to be able to go in and cut them up, unravel them, and stitch them into weird, lopsided, irregular things. Because that’s who I am – an amalgamation of all these different cultures.”

The Black Knot pieces are both sculptures and jewelry – chokers, necklaces, brooches, epaulets – although many are too cumbersome to actually wear. “I’m not interested in making jewelry per se,” says Lang. Like her hair, the pieces are burdensome but beautiful, and were a kind of warm-up exercise for the initial Comfort Hair sculpture (2013), which was born as Lang was struggling to come up with a project for her graduation thesis. The more she worked, the more she ruminated, an activity enabled by the repetitive, meditative process. “I’m by myself – binding, knotting, tying, cutting, embellishing – and finding some relief in the sheer accumulation of all this mass, which ended up as a huge volcano shape. At the same time, I’m feeling so many emotions starting to well up.” The meaning behind the mass of knots wasn’t fully clear to her – nor did the piece even have a name – until after graduation, when the pressure was

Photos: Tim Thayer, courtesy of the artist

Braid, 2013

While Lang primarily works with polypropylene rope, she has made some pieces with real hair. Self Portrait (above) allowed her to figuratively “chop” her hair – something she was told never to do in real life.

Lang’s is not a Korean story, per se. “I have other beautiful stories to tell,” she says.

Black Knots (Small, ThreeButton Knot), 2012

With her Red Knot series, of satin cord, Lang responds to the traditional knots seen all over China around the new year. The artist makes, then destroys, the knot, using the cut and unraveled cord to create new forms.

the static sculptures into a dynamic, narrative medium. In Nest, the model assumes a fetal position inside the hair, clutching a braid – lifeline or leash? In Woven Identity (2013), three generations of women are connected by the mass, which unites and restricts at the same time. Lang agrees that the very title, Comfort Hair, reflects these ambiguities, and that it is hard, in the context of her heritage, not to hear some reverberation of “comfort women,” the euphemism for the Korean women used as sex slaves by the Japanese during World War II –

an extreme example of the perils of female objectification. Of course, whether you’re Korean or Chinese or French or Swedish or Nigerian, for a woman, hair is imbued with mystique. A staple of both fairy tales and super-models, abundant, well-tended locks are a sign of youth, fertility, beauty – and by extension, female worth – and a reminder that Lang’s explorations are at once specific and universal. And still, she finds the obsession with hair a bit puzzling. “Why does it weigh on us so much? Why does my mom, or people I don’t even know, care so much about this stuff on our heads that’s actually dead? I mean, how does something that’s not even alive hold so much power over us?” Deborah Bishop is a writer and editor in San Francisco and a frequent contributor to American Craft.

left: Big Red Knots (Necklace/ Brooch 1), 2013

above: Big Red Knots (Fan), 2013 left: Big Red Knots (Top Knot), 2013

Red Knot photos (3): Tim Thayer, courtesy of the artist / Portrait: Brian Kelly

off. “One day, my son, Charles associations that were ingrained [now 6], crawled right into the in me were coming out.” Refersculpture, and it clicked: This ring to an instance where the is my hair! It’s so clichéd, but in weight of a gache killed a America, this is what represents 13-year-old bride, breaking her me: my thick black hair. So I put neck as she stood up, Lang says, my own head in there, and I found “That story hit home with me. myself going back to it, crawlIn some ways, I thought, ‘That ing into it, wearing it, and askgirl is me.’ I was born wearing a ing myself, ‘What am I feeling?’ ” metaphorical gache on my head. A Korean artist friend asked It didn’t matter how much I her if the piece was a reference didn’t identify with the previto the gache, the huge wigs once ous generation of women; it worn by Korean women to was my destiny.” convey prosperity and social Soon Lang cut the sculpture status (and banned in 1788 by apart, creating three Comfort royal decree as contrary to Con- Hair pieces that could be reconfucian values). “And I realized figured endlessly, using photogthat, yes, all of these cultural raphy and people to transform

In nearly every culture, hair is a measure of female worth.

Hand in Hand The neighborly charm of this quaint city makes for a convivial craft scene. story by

Molly McCowan 82

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an hour north of denver, nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, Fort Collins, Colorado, is a small city bursting with creative talent. The locals are friendly and easygoing, and business meetings often take place over pints of craft beer – fitting, since the self-described “Choice City” claims more microbreweries than anyplace else in the state. The region is also an outdoor wonderland, with easy access

Street photo: Jack Gillum

Fort Collins, Colorado

Piano photo: Courtesy of Bohemian Foundation

wide world of craft

to some of the state’s best hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. Named one of ďŹ ve platinumlevel Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists, Fort Collins is home to a number of custom bicycle makers, including Boo Bicycles, which handbuilds its frames using high-quality bamboo. Fort Collins is equally known for art, music, and craft. Institutions such as the Lincoln Center feature galleries that showcase contemporary artists

above: Historic buildings line downtown Fort Collins (above), here glittering with holiday lights. The district is a hub for art, music, and community gathering. left: Pianos About Town invites musicians of all ages to play instruments painted by artists and placed throughout the city.

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Fort Collins

2. Walnut Creek

10. Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising

222 Walnut St.

216 E. Lake St.

3. Downtown Artery

11. Lambspun

252 Linden St.

1101 E. Lincoln Ave.

4. Art Lab Fort Collins

12a. YendraBuilt

239 Linden St.

5. Trimble Court Artisans

1304 Duff Dr., #11

12b. Fort Collins Creator Hub

118 Trimble Ct.

1304 Duff Dr., #15 fortcollinscreator

6a. Smokestack Pottery

13. My Sister Knits

119 E. Lincoln Ave.


1408 W. Mountain Ave.

6b. Wool Hat Furniture 119 E. Lincoln Ave.

9th St.

316 Willow St.

9. Lincoln Center

417 W. Magnolia St.

N. College Ave.

1. Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House


Laporte Ave. 5

13 7

7. Fort Collins Museum of Art


201 S. College Ave.






E.Mulberry St.


8. Wadoo 200 S. College Ave., #150


Colorado State University and makers, and Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising shows rotating exhibitions with an emphasis on fashion design and textiles. You can find even more art outdoors. A public project places painted pianos around town for anyone to play, free music festivals feature national acts 84 american craft dec/jan 17

and local talent, and craft fairs such as the French Nest OpenAir Market are a common sight from late spring through fall. Old Town If you’ve ever wandered through Disneyland’s Main Street, USA, you’ll get déjà vu in Fort Collins’ picturesque downtown. That’s because

Harper Goff, a Disney art director, grew up in Fort Collins and drew on his hometown for inspiration. The Fort Collins Museum of Art, in the old Post Office building, stands on Old Town’s southern border. The museum’s annual “Masks” exhibition showcases ceramic masks decorated by about 200 local artists,

and the museum also mounts craft-oriented exhibitions, such as fiber artist Elizabeth Morisette’s weavings and basket forms that incorporate toys and game pieces. Just across the street is Wadoo, a colorful shop with a wide variety of gifts for craft lovers. Most of Wadoo’s employees are also makers,

Map: Chelsea Hammerbeck


wide world of craft

Courtesy of 142bis

Fort Collins Lincoln Center

left: The Lincoln Center galleries often show work by craft artists, including a recent exhibition by ceramist Linda Sikora and a summer show of art quilts.

Avenir Museum

Courtesy of Fort Collins Museum of Art

Mari Gades

right: The French Nest OpenAir Market, a monthly event May through October, hosts a variety of local makers, including EsScentuals, which sells body products, linens, and vintage clothing.

above: The Fort Collins Museum of Art showed Elizabeth Morisette’s weavings and baskets of upcycled materials in her “Fun & Games” exhibition earlier this year. Laura Birlingmair

above center: Mari Gades of Plaidypus makes hand warmers, headbands, bracelets, and leggings.

above: Access to the Avenir Museum’s impressive collection of historic costumes and textiles is usually reserved for researchers, but exhibitions such as “New Threads,” showing recent acquisitions, give the public a look.

and their wares are scattered throughout the store. “It gives them two ways to be invested in the shop,” says owner Amy Satterfield. Satterfield’s daughter, Mari Gades, is one of Wadoo’s top sellers, specializing in ultra-soft crocheted fingerless mittens and funky pins made from recycled wool sweaters.

Walk a few blocks north to Trimble Court Artisans, one of the oldest makers’ co-ops in the country. The shop features displays of pottery, jewelry, woodwork, fiber art, blown glass, paintings, and mixed-media work by more than 50 local makers. As jewelry maker and member Sharon Gloss remarks, “We value

left: Laura Birlingmair brings pottery outdoors with her Pop Up Art Cart.

In this small city bursting with talent, camaraderie is more common than competition.

diversity, and we don’t want too much overlap between the artisans.” Nearby, Walnut Creek offers an eclectic mix of craft and vintage finds. The expansive building seems to go on forever, and the shop sells a wide variety of handwork, including wooden birdhouses découpaged with pages from dec/jan 17 american craft


wide world of craft

right: Wolverine Farm’s letterpress workshop is in the burgeoning River District; the nonprofit’s bookstore, a cozy gathering space, is housed in the Bean Cycle coffee shop in Old Town.

Dina Fike

below: Smokestack Pottery has a gallery and offers classes, plus studio space for local ceramists. The current group gathers in front of Smokestack’s soda kiln.

Courtesy of Smokestack Pottery

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The River and Warehouse Districts Cross Jefferson Street, Old Town’s unofficial north border, to enter the developing River District. Wool Hat Furniture has been there since before the River District got its name. Co-owners Danelle Britt and her husband, Matthew, who focus on selling and sourcing their wares locally, build furniture using upcycled and vintage materials such as old basketballcourt flooring, 1960s lockers, government-office filing cabinets, and salvaged metal. Wool Hat shares the building with Smokestack Pottery, a gathering space for clay artists. It has a shop showcasing the work of Fort Collins ceramists, and offers group and private classes with an emphasis on wheel throwing and glazing. The Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House is a newer addition to the River District, recently opened by the nonprofit publisher, which also has a bookstore in Old Town. The open two-story space is home to a letterpress workshop that offers classes, shop time rental, and opportunities for guest printers. The light and airy downstairs area sells work by local makers on its upcycled shelves, such as handcarved spoons and bowls, hammered copper bracelets, handcrafted metal flasks and wallets, and flowers made of recycled books. A short drive to the east places you squarely in the Warehouse District, an industrial maze with makers occupying shared workshops. Tucked into one of these buildings is woodworking and metal fabrication shop YendraBuilt. Zach Yendra, who owns the business with his dad, Carl, specializes in custom wood and steel furniture as well as retail, restaurant,

right: Trimble Court Artisans is a long-running makers’ co-op that sells a range of goods, including Sarah Blessing’s beaded jewelry. Artists are juried into the group.

Courtesy of Trimble Court Artisans

1950s children’s books by Nicole Zentveld of Silver Bird Creations, and metal robots made of bottle caps and upcycled metal parts by Terry Hildebrand. Farther northeast is the Art Lab, an experimental community initiative that helps artists transform vacant storefronts into venues. Anyone with a creative idea who needs a space to make it happen can contact founder Dawn Putney. Participants can pay a small usage fee to cover supplies and overhead, or they can provide volunteer services to use the space for free. Events have included performances, classes, parties, and exhibitions ranging from tattoo and batik art to more traditional shows of quilts, sculpture, and oil paintings. Art Lab also recently launched Pop Up Art Carts, an art-on-the-streets program that uses mobile displays to showcase local talent and build awareness of art and craft. Featured “cartists” include potter Laura Birlingmair, who also makes jewelry, and painter Bonnie Lebesch, who started the art-cart project with Putney in 2015. Across Linden Street from Art Lab is the Downtown Artery, another hub for craft in Old Town. The Artery offers studio and office space for makers of all types, and its small retail store primarily sells work by local artists. A mix of work, including planters for succulents by Kevin Kato of Taproot Pottery and jewelry combining metal and small animal bones by Riley Furmanek of Erebus Crow, make this a fun stop for anyone seeking a creative jolt. The facility also has three bed-and-breakfast rooms available.

Patrick Messall

wide world of craft

Amelia Velarde

above: YendraBuilt makes furniture for both commercial and residential settings. Its Zag coffee table, with a reclaimed cedar top, suits either kind of place.

left: Jerry Ertle’s yarn bowls are featured at My Sister Knits. Made from beetle-kill pine, the bowls’ unique coloring comes from a fungus that the insect introduces into the tree.

Jennifer Dayton

Courtesy of Wool Hat

below: In historic Old Town, Wadoo’s artful goods spill into the street during warmer months. The shop helps support its staff of makers by selling their wares.

left: Danelle and Matthew Britt of Wool Hat Furniture upcycle unexpected materials into quality pieces. These tabletops were once basketball court flooring.

brewery, bar, and office design. “We’ve shipped custom furniture all over the country, but we stick to Colorado’s Front Range for commercial installations,” Yendra says. The builder also supports makers-in-training. This winter, he’s teaching a welding course to high school students at Fort Collins Creator Hub, a nonprofit maker space next door. Fiber enthusiasts can take a five-minute drive from the Warehouse District to My Sister Knits, a carriage-houseturned-shop that feels like a well-kept secret. Among the yarn and fiber arts supplies are merino sheepskin pelts, handsewn project bags, and beetlekill pine yarn bowls by local woodworker Jerry Ertle. A few minutes across town, longtime institution Lambspun features rooms full of hand-dyed fibers, including alpaca, sheep, and buffalo. The shop offers classes, loom rentals, and demonstrations. “We have a very thriving fiber arts community,” says owner Shirley Ellsworth. “We make our own patterns, have weekly knitting groups, and we love to help beginners.” This welcoming approach – makers helping other makers – is evident throughout Fort Collins’ arts community, where camaraderie prevails over competition. “The craft scene here is bustling with energy,” Wolverine Farm founder Todd Simmons says. “I meet new people each week who are making this, that, and the other, and no two people are doing the same thing the same way.” Fort Collins is good in that way, he says – forgiving enough to allow some trial and error, and supportive enough to make living creatively a reality. Molly McCowan is a writer and editor who has called Fort Collins home for 12 years.

dec/jan 17 american craft



Art Without Art School

An exhibition celebrates nine artists who’ve traveled an unconventional path. interview with Jill Moniz by Joyce Lovelace

you don’t have to go to art school to become an artist. But to truly make it in the art world these days – to have shows, get reviewed, sell pieces – is an MFA the only realistic track? Not necessarily. “Work Over School: Art from the Margins of the Inside,” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles through January 8, presents nine self-taught “outsiders” who took alternate routes to mainstream success. Ranging from 37 to 75 years old, all had various careers – architect, chemist, teacher, engineer – before finding their true calling as artists. “People who make that change are so courageous in taking a leap of faith, recognizing themselves and living in that truth,” says Jill Moniz, who conceived and organized the show. The daughter of a curator 88 american craft dec/jan 17

(Francine Kelly, former executive director of the Featherstone Center for the Arts on Martha’s Vineyard), Moniz, 47, grew up on the East Coast and in the Midwest around art and artists. She studied art history in college before switching to cultural anthropology: “I was interested in the larger narrative, art as a bridge to cultural understanding and awareness.” After getting her PhD, having three sons, and teaching for a while, she moved in 2005 to Los Angeles, where she worked in community engagement at the Museum of Latin American Art, was head curator at the California African American Museum, and now focuses on independent projects. Over lunch recently in LA’s downtown arts district, she reflected on artmaking as a personal imperative, and how the old

hierarchies and exclusivity of the contemporary art world may be giving way to an embrace of new voices. How did this project come about? “Work Over School” was born out of a strong desire to work with [CAFAM director] Suzanne Isken. The show is about this idea of outsider versus insider, folk versus fine art. I wanted to unpack those classifications and conversations. So I chose nine artists who are self-taught but who live and work as artists, who show in galleries and museums, whose work is really fine art. It’s not a repudiation of art school at all. It’s about individuals who have found themselves to be makers, artists – who have been accepted as such, but still remain sort of on the periphery because

Exhibition photo: Arts4Good / Centrifugal photo: Fred Eversley / Eversley portrait: Caren Levin

For the exhibition “Work Over School,” curator Jill Moniz selected self-taught artists whose success challenges traditional art-world hierarchies. Pictured with Moniz, left to right, are sculptures by Valentin Toledo, Fred Eversley, and Susan Feldman. The two wall pieces are by Miguel Osuna.

Fred Eversley Engineering A significant player in LA’s Light and Space movement, Eversley was a successful engineer designing NASA test laboratories before he was a sculptor. Moniz notes that his resin works, including Centrifugal (1969, right), are “brilliantly executed because he knows so much about the material itself.”


they didn’t go to art school. I want to celebrate them and extend the conversation about what it means to be self-taught, or to be inside or outside. Their work speaks to me as an anthropologist, as a person of color, as someone who has been on the periphery in a lot of ways. What I love is that they do it because they can’t not. It satisfies something in them. Tell us about some of them. The group is very diverse. Fred Eversley is sort of the father of the work-over-school movement for me. He was an engineer. He came to California to work for the aerospace industry in the early 1960s and was part of a program where they were linking artists up with science, to see where art and science met. And he fell in love. Obviously, in his heart of hearts he was already a maker, but he realized that was how he wanted to live his life. He had a story he wanted to tell for himself, more than he wanted to work on jet propulsion. So he did, and he’s never looked back. You see the expertise of his art, these beautiful resin works that are so brilliantly executed because he knows so much about the material itself. Miguel Osuna came to LA from Mexico as an architect, then decided that if he wanted to be true to himself, he was going to have to live as an artist.

Lisa Bartleson worked in the medical industry as a chemist before switching over. Dana Bean, from South Africa, is a collage artist and still works in marketing. Valentin Toledo, from Spain, was an art director for magazines, though he studied math in college. Susan Feldman was a graphic designer and mother who works in [mixed media including] yarns and reclaimed wood – to me, there is so much domesticity in her artmaking, and it’s powerful. Everyone in the show is based in Los Angeles? Yes. I wanted to show that there was something unique about LA, where people come to reimagine themselves. Is it LA that gives us the space to take that risk, that leap of faith? Maybe. I think it’s the space where you have to confront yourself. As they say, it’s where you fake it till you make it. For people who are creative, it forces you to get down to it and find your way forward. There’s a heavy emphasis now in art schools on theory, as opposed to empirical wisdom and experiential awareness and understanding. These artists had a certain work ethic from their past lives, and so they just did it. They got to it. It’s hard enough for any artist to break through. Was it harder still for these artists?

Cola Smith Cola Smith has known she was an artist since she was 5 years old. The former textile designer creates densely patterned ceramic platters and totemic forms, such as 4 Elements (2016, right), as well as paintings and body art.

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Photos: Nick Ouellette

Textile Design


In some ways, yes. But their talent couldn’t be ignored. That’s the beautiful thing. It’s also a perfect storm. The art world hit a critical moment, backed itself into a corner with all the leaning toward theory and conceptualism. And conceptualism was withering on the vine, frankly. So in the last couple of years, the art world started to look for inspiration. And where have they gone? To the outsiders – the self-taught, the primitive, the naïve, the folk artists. These are now the people they’re lifting up and celebrating as true innovators.

Dana Bean Marketing

Dana Bean is both an artist and a marketing professional. Her mixed-media works, such as Arizona (2016, above), explore modern-day anxiety and alienation.

So what is the ideal education for an aspiring artist? It has to be an organic process, whether it’s work or school. There has to be meaning and resonance in whichever path you take. I went to graduate school – as so many of us did – because I didn’t know what else to do. [Laughs.] The experiences of living in the world obviously affect the choices we make. But sometimes you go forward because there doesn’t seem to be any other way forward. And that’s your truth. Joyce Lovelace is American Craft’s contributing editor.

Miguel Osuna Architecture

Architectural training allows Miguel Osuna to make his expressive drawings and paintings with precision. Often the artist uses drafting materials to create his work; Ebb and Flow, Lead and Follow (2016, above) was drawn with ballpoint pen.

dec/jan 17 american craft



Call for Artists

Our Raku Ornaments and innerSpirit Rattles have sold in the gift shop at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We’ll be exhibiting in ACRE Philadelphia and American Craft Council's Baltimore wholesale and retail shows. Handcrafted in rural America.

49th Annual Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival

August 11-13, 2017. Located in Ketchum, Idaho. Application available: December 1, 2016 Application deadline: February 28, 2017 Visit to apply

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts What are you waiting for? Enroll in hands-on jewelry classes in the heart of San Francisco: 1-3 day classes • 2-5 month diploma programs • Masters Symposium Classes fill quickly – Inquire today

ArtWear Fashion Week Fort Collins Lincoln Center October 20-28, 2017 Where fashion meets fine art, this biennial week-long celebration in Fort Collins, Colorado, presents innovative and wearable artworks. A spectacular fashion show opens the week that continues with a sales gallery, lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Deadline for artist entries: March 3, 2017

Craft with Confidence J Schatz This Is What Handmade Is. Shop our collection of outdoor, lighting, tabletop, décor and one of a kind items. Working from our studio in Rhode Island, Jim, Peter, and the team take inspired ideas and create ceramic ware that is molded, pierced, scratched, carved, drilled, glazed and fired into beautifully finished products. Toll-free (866) 344-5267

North Bennet Street School offers intensive, hands-on training, master faculty, and an inspiring community. Full-time and continuing education classes available. Learn more at WWW.NBSS.EDU

The American Craft Marketplace showcases artwork, galleries, events, products and services. To place a Marketplace ad, please contact Joanne Smith | 612-206-3122 |

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Ad Index American Craft Council ............................4, 16, 35, 93 Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts ............................ 94 Artful Home .......................... Cover 4 Artrider Productions ....................... 2 CFile ............................................. 25 Corning Museum of Glass ............... 2 Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) ....................27 David Patchen ................................. 1 Form & Concept .............................. 9 Gravers Lane Gallery ............. Cover 3 Haystack Mountain School of Crafts ............................. 95 Holiday Gift Guide ................ 29 – 34 Hot Works .................................... 23 Houston Center for Contemporary Craft ............... 95 Jewelers Who Think Outside the Box .............................. 19 L’Attitude Gallery ................. Cover 3

Lillstreet Art Center ......................25 Marketplace ............................ 92 – 93 Max’s ............................................23 Myra Burg........................................ 7 Palm Beach Contemporary ............. 3 Palm Beach Fine Craft Show .......... 17 Penland School of Crafts ............... 94 Penland School of Crafts Gallery ................................. 2 Peters Valley School of Craft ..........27 Pilchuck Glass School .....................27 Pittsburgh Glass Center .................25 Rago Arts and Auction Center ...................... Cover 2 Raven Gallery ................................. 7 The Grand Hand Gallery ....... Cover 3 Topaz Gallery ....................... Cover 3 Virginia Commonwealth University .....................................27 Weyrich Gallery/The Rare Vision Art Galerie ................. Cover 3 White Bird Gallery ............... Cover 3

statement of ow nership, m a nagement, a nd circul ation (Required by Act of August 12, 1970: Section 3685, Title 39, United States Code) 1. American Craft Council 2. (ISSN: 0801-020 0) 3. Filing date: 9/29/2016. 4. Issue frequency: Bi-monthly . 5. Number of issues published annually: 6. 6. The annual subscription price is $40.0 0. 7. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: American Craft, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1089. Contact person: Greg Allen. Telephone: 612-206-3117 8. Complete mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: American Craft Council, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1089. 9. Full names and complete mailing addresses of publisher, editor, and managing editor. Publisher, Chris Amundsen (Executive Director), American Craft, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1089, Editor, Monica Moses (Editor-in-Chief ), American Craft, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1089. 10. Owner: American Craft Council, American Craft, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 20 0, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1089. 11. Known bondholders, mortgages, and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent of more of total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None. 12. Tax status: Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months. 13. Publisher title: American Craft Council. 14. Issue date for circulation data below: 15. Extent and nature of circulation:

A. Total Number of Copies (Net press run) B. Paid Circulation (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 1. Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions 2. Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions 3. Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Non-USPS paid distribution 4. Paid distribution Through Other Classed Mailed Through USPS C. Total Paid Distribution D. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (by Mail and Outside Mail) 1. Free or Nominal Rate Outside County Copies 2. Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies 3. Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed Other Classes 4. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail E. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (sum of 15d 1,2,3,4) F. Total Distribution (sum of 15c and 15e) G. Copies not Distributed H. Total (sum of 15f and 15g) I. Percent Paid

Classified Classified advertising is $3.95 per word, minimum 20 words. Name and address count as words. Example: “A.B. Smith” is three words. Full payment must accompany order, mailed to American Craft, 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55413. Or contact Joanne Smith at when placing classified ads using credit card payment. Deadlines: November 29, 2016, for the February/March issue; January 27, 2017, for the April/May issue.

Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months

Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date



22,870 0

22,031 0



0 25,292

0 24,275

992 0 0 1,910 2,902

950 0 0 2,066 3,016

28,194 4,486 32,680 89.71%

27,291 3,661 30,952 88.95%

16. Total circulation including electronic copies (PS Form 3526-X): A. Paid Electronic Copies B. Total Paid Print Copies (Line 15C) + Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) C. Total Print Distribution (Line 15F) + Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) D. Percent Paid (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (L16b divided by 16c x 100)

1,053 26,345

525 24,80 0





I certify that 50% of all distributed copies (electronic and print) are paid above nominal price: YES 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership Will Be Printed in the Dec./Jan. 2017 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and title of editor, publisher, business manager, or owner: Christian Novak, Membership Manager. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanction and civil actions.

american craft council The American Craft Council is a national, nonprofit public educational organization that traces its inception to 1941. Founded by Aileen Osborn Webb, the mission of the Council is to champion and promote the understanding and appreciation of contemporary American craft. Programs include the bimonthly magazine American Craft, annual juried shows presenting artists and their work, the American Craft Council Awards honoring excellence, a specialized library, conferences, workshops, and seminars. 1224 Marshall St. NE, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55413 Phone (612) 206-3100; (800) 836-3470 Fax (612) 355-2330 Membership Services: (888) 313-5527 Magazine:, Library: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday Shows: (800) 836-3470 A Funding Source This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Board of Trustees Stuart Kestenbaum, Chair Deer Isle, ME Kevin Buchi Malvern, PA

Ayumi Horie Auburn, ME

Judy C. Pote Philadelphia, PA

Chuck Duddingston Minneapolis, MN

Giselle Huberman Potomac, MD

Robert Duncan Lincoln, NE

Lorne Lassiter Charlotte, NC

Sidney Rosoff Honorary trustee and counsel, New York, NY

Libba Evans Winston-Salem, NC

Kathryn LeBaron Lincoln, NE

Carl Fisher Tacoma, WA

Wendy Maruyama San Diego, CA

Kelly Gage Hamel, MN

Lydia Matthews Brooklyn, NY

Ken Girardini Sykesville, MD

Jean W. McLaughlin Penland, NC

Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez Boston, MA

Alexandra Moses Wellesley, MA

Charlotte Herrera Webster, NY

Lynda Bourque Moss Billings, MT

Wayne Higby Alfred Station, NY

Bruce W. Pepich Racine, WI

Carol Sauvion Los Angeles, CA Kay Savik St. Paul, MN Josh Simpson Shelburne Falls, MA Michael J. Strand Fargo, ND Christopher Taylor Philadelphia, PA Thomas Turner Kalamazoo, MI Patricia A. Young Silver Spring, MD

American Craft Council Staff Leadership Team Christopher H. Amundsen Executive Director

Gregory E. Allen Director of Finance and Administration

Pamela Diamond Director of Marketing and Communications

Monica Moses Editor in Chief, American Craft

Elissa Chaffee Director of Development

Melanie Little Director of Shows

Michael Radyk Director of Education

one piece

What Comes Next

96 american craft dec/jan 17

Perhaps fittingly, then, Flag (2011) is making its US debut in “Fired Up: Women in Glass,” on view at the Mint Museum Uptown through February 26. This show, the first American art museum exhibition focusing on the achievements of women working in glass, is a creative collaboration between the Mint, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Toledo Museum of Art. The emphasis is on female contributions to the male-dominated midcentury studio glass movement, but

also on women’s current roles as innovators and iconoclasts, the people who are moving the field forward. On view are some 40 functional objects and sculptures, all drawn from the TMA’s collection. The exhibition is part of the Mint’s yearlong 80th anniversary celebration, which began in July. They’re calling it “Year of the Woman,” inspired by the women who were the driving force behind the institution’s founding. History, meet what comes next.

Photo: Toledo Museum of Art

the path to the future is built on the past – and history can be both liability and liberator. Laura de Santillana might know this better than most. She is the granddaughter of Paolo Venini, founder of the famed eponymous glassworks in Murano, Italy. She is also a renowned glass artist in her own right, praised for her painterly incalmo sculptures – more reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s work than the dappled, decorative style that is her birthright.

Laura de Santillana Flag, 2011, blown incalmo, fumed, hotworked glass, 15 x 19 x 2.5 in.


“Snow Bunting Moon Pair” by Jeremy Newman / Allison Ciancibelli at White Bird Gallery. Glass sculpture. 13”tall x 21”wide x 3.5”deep.

“Before, Now And After” by Michael Billie at Weyrich Gallery/The Rare Vision Art Galerie. Encaustic and mixed media on floating panels. Two panels 23 x 23 each.

“Nature’s Way” by Bonnie Rubinstein at L’Attitude Gallery. Fused glass and metal wall sculpture. 32” Diameter.

GRAVERS LANE GALLERY 8405 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19118 (Historic Chestnut Hill) (215) 247-1603

THE GRAND HAND GALLERY 619 Grand Ave. St. Paul, MN 55102 (651) 312-1122

WEYRICH GALLERY THE RARE VISION ART GALERIE 2935-D Louisiana NE Albuquerque, NM 87110 (505) 883-7410

L’ATTITUDE GALLERY 460-C Harrison Ave. Suite 8A Boston, MA 02118 (617) 927-4400

TOPAZ GALLERY 3145 Peachtree Road N.E. Suite 177 Atlanta, GA 30305 (404) 995-0155

WHITE BIRD GALLERY 251 N. Hemlock St. Cannon Beach, OR 97110 (503) 436-2681

Americancraft december january 2017