Mark your calendar: something rare is going to happen
and you don't want to miss it. A program will
be on TV that you
actually will want to watch, a program that you will find
enlightening and best of all a program that will
enthuse your passion for collecting. On Wednesday,
May 30th, PBS will premier CRAFT IN AMERICA:
Memory, Landscape, Community, a three-part
high-definition series that explores the important role
craftsmanship has played throughout American
history. It gets even better because the television
is part of a multi-faceted project that includes this PBS
documentary, a traveling museum exhibition, a
lavishly illustrated book, and a resource rich website.
The Craft in America project is the brainchild of
Sauvion, founder of Freehand Gallery in Los Angeles.
For years, Carol has passionately labored to bring
Craft in America to life, tirelessly and
raising the millions of dollars needed to realize the
dream of bringing to the cultural forefront what she
sees as "an extraordinary wealth of objects that mean
so much to who we are as a nation, are part of our
heritage, and are often hiding in plain sight."
This issue of AJFconnection is dedicated to a
preview of the Art in America project. We
acknowledge and honor the tireless work of Carol
Sauvion. Read on and tune in on May 30th.
|CRAFT IN AMERICA to Premier on PBS
The project launches Wednesday, May 30th with the
PBS premier of the Craft in
America documentary which explores how
craftsmanship has been passed from artist to artist
over the last two centuries and highlights the central
significance of craft in our society. In each episode we
meet artists and discover what they do,
how they do it
and why they have chosen a life of creating art
for all to
episode, Memory takes a personal tour
history in America. It juxtaposes the
intimate stories of some of our country's most the
prominent craft artists within a larger historical
context. Landscape, the second episode
the relationship between the artists and their physical
environment. Episode three, Community
looks at the connection artists have to their
through craft making. The personal stories of gifted
masters and passionate newcomers alike reveal the
deeply held belief that craft is about more than just the
making of an object - it is also a way of life, a reason
IMAGE: Yager, Jan. Tiara of Useful Knowledge. City
Flora: The Philadelphia Series, 2006. Transforms
8 brooches, 2 stick pins, tie tack, pendant, and
headband. Sterling Silver, 18K & 14K Gold.
Jack Ramsdale. As featured in CRAFT IN AMERICA.
|The Show Goes On The Road
Craft in America: Expanding Traditions is the
landmark traveling museum exhibition associated
with the TV program. It offers a historical survey
featuring more than 200 works spanning a 200 years.
These innovative objects will
reveal how craft taps into, and shapes, wider cultural
streams and flows freely into the broad narrative of
contemporary art. The exhibition
opened its eight-city, two
tour at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. The
exhibition travels to Portland, OR; San Diego, CA;
and Brockton, MA, and beyond.
IMAGE: Charles Loloma, Bracelet, c. 1970-80,
channel-set silver, turquoise, ironwood, jet, coral,
fossil mastodon, lapis and gold. Photograph by
Robert K. Liu of Ornament and Karen Williamson. As
featured in CRAFT IN AMERICA: Expanding Traditions;
and CRAFT IN AMERICA: Celebrating Two Centuries
of Artists and Objects.
|Illustrated Book Features Prologue by Jimmy Carter
It gets better! President Jimmy Carter, a long time
craft advocate, contributed to the prologue to the book,
Craft in America: Celebrating Two Centuries of
and Objects. This lavishly illustrated book
published by Clarkson Potter (Random House)
more than 200 images and showcases some of the
greatest works of craft of the last two centuries. The
publication explores the unique qualities of American
craft while highlighting the objects created
by Americas most original and esteemed artists. The
book was co-authored by Jo Lauria and Steve Fenton.
IMAGE: Kiff Slemmons, Hands of the Heroes
Paige, 1987-1991 Silver, aluminum, brass,
acrylic shell, and wood. 3 ¼ x 2 ½ inches.
Rod Slemmons. As featured in CRAFT IN AMERICA:
Celebrating Two Centuries of Artists and Objects.
|Online Craft Source www.craftinamerica.org
The project's web site, www.craftinamerica.org,
is an online vortex that brings together all elements of
the ambitious Craft in America project. "Craft in
America.org. The site has been designed to become
an unparalleled creative resource. According to
Executive Director Carol Sauvion, "If the public wants
to learn about well-known artists or discover those
making breakthroughs, it will be there. Histories,
tools, techniques and ways to start learning craft
yourself." The site also will provide middle and
secondary school teachers plans and activities to
continue the exploration.
Tips for Printing AJFconnection. Some of our
members have asked how to print
AJFconnection to make it easier to read or save. It
has been designed for printing on standard 8.5 x 11
paper. The trick is to make sure the top, bottom, right
and left margins have been set to .25". If you need
assistance just send us an email and we will be in
touch to walk you though this simple configuration.
In the Forum: Jo Lauria
The Art Jewelry Forum is fortunate to have many
members whose contributions to the arts help ensure
that artists and their works are promoted, protected
and perpetuated. In upcoming issues of
AJFconnection we will meet other members
and invite them to share, in their own words, their
creative insights and passions.
This month we feature Jo Lauria, a long time AJF
member who currently serves on the AJF board. She
is the chief curator for the touring exhibition Craft in
America: Expanding Traditions and co-author of
the companion book, "Craft in America: Celebrating
Two Centuries of Artists and Objects". Jo was
interviewed by AJF connection editor Sally von Bargen.
Sally I think I speak for all AJF members
when I praise your critical contribution to both the
Craft in America exhibition and the book. You
must be both thrilled and exhausted.
Jo Yes, both thrilled and exhausted and
humbled to be part of such a noble effort. It is a
wonderful project, and I am honored to be associated
Sally Will you share with us how the various
components - the television documentary, the
and the national exhibition - work together?
Jo The analogy is the human body: the book
gives the historical framework-the backbone, the
structure, the context of why crafts came into
existence, why they are important to our cultural
heritage, and why the handcrafted object and the
activity of hand-making has endured, and continues to
thrive even in today's post-industrial society.
The PBS documentary focuses on the lives of some of
the key artists of our time, conveying the "backstory"
(their personal narratives) and giving shape to the
structure. It serves as the nervous system with
attendant emotions and reactive responses. It poses
the question, "Why do artists engage in craft making?"
And answers it resoundingly with two reasons:
passion and deliberate choice.
The exhibition represents the senses as it provides
the channel for a sensory experience -- the actual
viewing, being enveloped by the objects, the physical
journey navigating through the display of assembled
objects can be a spiritual experience for some, for
others a profound aesthetic one. It also enables
learning about our culture, our heritage, and our
traditions one handmade object at a time. Seeing craft
objects on a television screen or reproduced in a book
does not engender the same "connection" with the
viewer -- the urgent, intense, and critical exchange of
immediate sensations communicated when one is in
the presence of, and shares space with objects. The
exhibition makes possible this intense sensate
Sally What motivated your involvement in
CRAFT IN AMERICA?
Jo I believed in the worth of the projects, the
potential impact they could have on the field of crafts,
design and decorative arts, and I was committed to
the creative direction and mission as outlined by Carol
Sauvion, the founder and executive director of CRAFT
IN AMERICA. To write a book about American crafts
with co-author Steve Fenton (and several contributing
writers) that gave voice to our diverse native and
multi-cultural communities seemed a unique
contribution. Craft in America offered me the
opportunity to organize an exhibition of masterpiece
craft objects, a proposal that proved too seductive to
Significant historical surveys of craft objects,
expansive in both concept and size, are far and few
between as they are often costly and unwieldy to
organize, and can be challenging to place with
appropriate host venues. But I think the efforts are well
rewarded as these exhibitions resonate with viewers
and can be very emotive. In fact they have the
potential to be transformative -- as craft objects are
accessible, vital and validating; they reveal our shared
histories, they are the legacies of our heritages, and
most importantly, they are the potent expressions of
our individualism. In short, I wanted to participate in
something where the "whole" could be greater than
the sum of its parts.
Sally I think it is fair to say that Craft in
America is the first major exploration and public
discussion in the 21st century of American craft, and
as such will continue to inform the national exploration
of artist made objects for years to come. Well done Jo,
IMAGE: Jo Lauria. Photograph by Jennifer Gerardi.