Research Initiative

Craft Think Tank

Since 2002, the Center has annually convened thought leaders in the fields of craft, creativity, design, and associated disciplines to discuss, share knowledge, and make recommendations on relevant topics and areas to the field of craft.

View most recent convening 

The meeting is a way to keep our finger on the pulse of intellectual thought and trends and identify education-oriented needs within the field. 

Participants have included museum directors, curators, university faculty, scholars, editors, critics and artists with diverse media expertise. The Craft Think Tank has frequently resulted in recommendations for new Center for Craft Core Programs and Projects, including the Craft Research Fund, Windgate Museum Internship. Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, and the New Apprenticeship Project.

Craft think tank goals

Gather

Convene thought leaders in the field

Progress

Increase the exchange of theory and scholarship in craft

Collaborate

Provide the opportunity for collaboration that may not have happened organically

Identify

Identify education-oriented needs in the craft field

Build

Formulate and suggest plans to meet the identified needs

Craft Think tank Archive

2018
Craft & Collecting

Summary

In November 2017, the Center for Craft and UNC Asheville convened a special topic Craft Think Tank devoted to mapping and understanding the potential role and impact of craft in a makerspace setting. This intimate gathering brought together a select group of 15 national and international experts across disciplines. London-based cultural consulting agency From Now On facilitated the convening; their previous work on the cultural role of makerspaces made them an ideal choice to lead the conversation. The convening was partially funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation entitled “University of North Carolina Asheville: Leading the Public Arts and Humanities in the City of Asheville.”

The first session explored the landscape of craft makerspaces. It mapped the many factors that could influence craft makerspace initiatives, from types of users, to policy and tools. In the second session, participants speculated about the emerging issues which, in the future, are likely to impact the success of craft makerspaces. Finally, participants used this content and their expertise to build hypothetical models of what a future craft makerspace could be.

Participants

Eleanor Annand, Resident Artist, Penland School of Crafts 

Daniel Charny, (Facilitator), Director, From Now On Annet Couwenberg, Fiber Faculty, Maryland Institute College of Art 

Alma Daskalaki, Innovation Manager, Crafts Council, UK 

Nettrice Gaskins, SCOPES-DF Program Manager, Fab Foundation 

Mike Marcus, Assistant Director, Creative Placemaking and Property Development, Center for Craft 

Nick Moen, Founder and Creative Director, The Bright Angle 

Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, Center for Craft 

Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Statewide Project Manager, California Community Colleges Maker Initiative; CACT Director, Sierra College 

Susan Reiser, Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean of Natural Sciences, UNC Asheville 

Sara Sanders, Engineering Design Studio and Lab Manager, STEAM Studio, UNC Asheville

Stephanie Santoso, Senior Program Fellow, Infosys Foundation USA; Former Senior Advisor for Making, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 

Brent Skidmore, Associate Professor of Art & Art History and Public Arts and Humanities Chair, UNC Asheville 

Joshua G. Stein, Founder, Radical Craft; Co-director, Data Clay Network; Professor of Architecture, Woodbury University

Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director, Programs and Curator, Center for Craft Participants Attendees included experts in the fields of craft and makerspaces. 

The Craft Think Tank further benefited from contributions from Liz Corbyn, PhD Student in Material Culture, University College London, Dee Halligan, Director, From Now On, and Justin Marshall, Associate Professor of Design, Northumbria School of Design, UK.

View full report

Partners

This Craft Think Tank and publication was made possible, in part, by the University of North Carolina Asheville and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

2016
Craft & Academia

Summary

On June 19-21, 2016 the Center for Craft, in partnership with Warren Wilson College, convened a two-day, special-topic Craft Think Tank, bringing together a select group of experts across disciplines to assess the state of craft in academia. During the first day, the group met to consider, adopt, or reject new strategies to further the study (and thereby the practice) of craft. 

Contributors developed a list of potential initiatives and prioritized the following:

- Scholarly national craft conference

- NEH course/workshop on teaching craft studies

- Strategically diversifying the field

- Supporting universities to develop a craft studies minor using existing resources

The second day focused on developing a master’s-level program in critical and historical craft studies. The group discussed and made recommendations concerning the content, format, approach, audience, and resources needed to create a relevant and successful program.

Participants

Elissa Auther, Windgate Research and Collections Curator, Bard Graduate Center, Center for Craft, Museum of Arts and Design

Julie Levin Caro, Professor of Art History, Warren Wilson College

James Darr, Professor of Art, Warren Wilson College

Anne Dunning (Facilitator), Principal Consultant, ARTS Action Research

Paula Garrett, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Warren Wilson College

Anna Helgeson, Grants & Programs Coordinator, Center for Craft

Leah Leitson, Professor of Art, Warren Wilson College

Jay Miller, Professor of Philosophy, Warren Wilson College

Sequoia Miller, Historian, Curator, and Studio Potter

Mira Mohsini, Cultural Anthropologist, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, Eastern Michigan University

Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, Center for Craft

Lara Nguyen, Professor of Art, Warren Wilson College

Kirsty Robertson, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Museum Studies, Western University, Canada

Stacey Sloboda, Associate Professor of Art History, Southern Illinois University

Sarah Teasley, Head of Programme, History of Design, Royal College of Art

Namita Wiggers, Independent Curator, Writer, and Educator; Director and Co-Founder, Critical Craft Forum

Catherine Whalen, Associate Professor, Bard Graduate Center

Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director and Curator, Center for Craft

View full report

Parnters

Center for Craft and WWC’s 2016 Craft Think Tank was supported, in part, by a grant from the John & Robyn Horn Foundation.

2014 
Craft & Curating

Summary

The Center for Craft held its 12th Craft Think Tank on October 16-18, 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina.  This year’s intimate gathering posed an opportunity to focus on the specific needs of the curatorial community, bringing together a select group of national and international, emerging and experienced curators, artists, and critics.

Conversations focused on questions such as: what are the obstacles and opportunities for exhibiting objects and making in the 21st Century, what does it mean to be a “craft” curator in a post-disciplinary creative landscape, and how can we strengthen the display, documentation, and preservation of objects?  Participants also considered how matters like diversity, technology, and interdisciplinary inform the future of craft curating.

Participants:

Glenn Adamson, Director, Museum of Arts and Design, New York 

Nora Atkinson, Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. 

Elissa Auther, Adjunct Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver and Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado 

Daniel Charny, Co-Founder and Director, From Now On and Professor of Design at Kingston University, London, UK 

Edward Cooke, Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts, Yale University, Connecticut 

Garth Johnson, Curator of Ceramics, Arizona State University Art Museum, Arizona 

Elizabeth Kozlowski, Curator, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Texas 

Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, North Carolina 

Danny Orendorff, Curator-in-Residence, Charlotte Street Foundation, Missouri 

Jenelle Porter, Mannion Family Senior Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Massachusetts 

Cat Rossi, Senior Lecturer in Design History, Kingston University, London, UK 

Sarah Schleuning, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, High Museum of Art, Georgia 

T’ai Smith, Assistant Professor in Art History, The University of British Columbia, Canada 

Cindi Strauss, Assistant Director of Programming and Curator for Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 

David Wilson, Artist, California 

Namita Wiggers, Director/Co-Founder of Critical Craft Forum, Adjunct Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft, and Adjunct Instructor, Oregon College of Art + Craft | Pacific Northwest College of Art, Oregon 

Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, North Carolina

Emily Zilber, Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

View full report

2013
Craft & Branding

Summary

In 2013 the Center for Craft partnered with the American Craft Council and Crafthaus to discuss the brand of craft. The meeting was held October 17 – 19, 2013 at the Montreat Conference Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina and was facilitated by the brand consulting agency, Fenton. 25 participants were in attendance.

Participants:

Christopher H. Amundsen, Executive Director, American Craft Council

David Brooks, Board of Directors, Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow (CRAFT)

Steffanie Dotson, President, The Furniture Society board

Joel Du Bois, Consultant Semiotician and Linguist, Fenton

Catharine Ellis, textile artist

Beth Ann Gerstein, Executive Director, The Society of Arts and Crafts

Joshua Green, Executive Director, NCECA

Doreen Jakob, UK researcher

Garth Johnson, Ceramicist, NCECA board

Stoney Lamar, American Craft Council Board, Center for Craft board

Karen Lorene, Facèré Gallery, SNAG board

Brigitte Martin, editor, crafthaus, SNAG board

Janet McCall, Executive Director, The Society for Contemporary Craft

Jean McLaughlin, Executive Director, Penland School of Crafts

Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, Center for Craft

Perry Price, Director of Education, American Craft Council

Gwynne Rukenbrod, Executive Director, SNAG

Michael Sherrill, Board President, Center for Craft 

Michael Strand, ceramicist, Associate Professor and Head of Visual Arts, North Dakota State University

Nicola Thomas, UK researcher

Lisa Witter, Senior Advisor, Fenton

Elly Woolston, Director of Fenton Europe (facilitator)

Stephen Yusko, metalsmith, Haystack board

Emily Zaiden, Center Director, Craft in America

Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director, Center for Craft

View full report

2012 
Craft & Apprenticeship

Summary

The 2012 Craft Think Tank brought together 17 thought leaders for three days to discuss the need to develop new models of craft apprenticeships. Topics of discussion included the history of apprenticeships, the state of craft education, modes of work, mentorship and influence, transmission of knowledge, equity and legal concerns, and steps to move towards a new, sustainable model.The New Apprenticeship Project website is a repository for the future development of this project.

Participants

Michael Sherrill (co-chair), Artist, owner Mudtools 

Mark Shapiro (co-chair), Writer, ceramicist 

Stephanie Moore (facilitator), Executive Director, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design

Steven T. Aceto, Attorney, Aceto Law Office P.A. 

Jay T. Close, Blacksmith 

Tony Clarke, Partner, VCA Inc. 

Matthew Crawford, Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia; author, Shop Class As Soulcraft 

Dustin Farnsworth, Artist, Penland resident 

Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, President, North Bennet Street School 

Hoss Haley, Metalsmith, sculptor • Mark Hewitt, Ceramicist 

Dan Jacoby, Professor, Policy and Interdisciplinary Studies Program, University of Washington

Stoney Lamar, Woodturner 

Faythe Levine, Independent researcher, producer Handmade Nation 

Bruce Metcalf, Studio jeweler, writer 

Perry Allen Price, Director of Education, American Craft Council 

Ian Robertson, Dean of Work, Warren Wilson College 

Tim Tate, Co-director, Washington Glass School, glass artist

View full report

2011

Summary

The 2011 Craft Think Tank convened 15 thought leaders in the field of craft to discuss a variety of topics suggested by participants. This year’s discussions addressed how craft is defined in the university setting, the role of the artist outside of the studio, the anticipated impact of craft in 10 years, and how national and regional craft conversations inform one another. 

2009

Summary

The 2009 Craft Think Tank convened 19 though leaders in the field of craft to discuss a variety of topics suggested by participants. This year’s discussions addressed the effect of the internet on craft artist-gallery relationships, federal funding opportunities for craft, the impact of CAD (Computer Aided Design) on craft education, practice-based PhDs in craft, the opportunity of craft collaborations in a global economy, ‘borrowing’ from the fine arts, and advancing the goal of having the history of craft courses taught at the undergraduate level.

2008

Summary

The 2008 North Carolina Craft Think-Tank marked the seventh year the Center for Craft convened leaders in the field of craft.  Topics were introduced by participants then opened to the full group for discussion. The 2008 session major points were recorded by then Center for Craft director Dian Magie and assistant director Katie Lee and outlined in the report below.


SESSION 1: How is the World Wide Web connecting the maker with the market? How can professional makers become better educated in alternative methods of marketing their work? How can universities prepare their craft/design students who plan craft as an entrepreneurial business?

SESSION 2: Increasingly museums are being gifted with major collections and endowments relating to contemporary craft/decorative arts. What curatorial challenges do craft collections present within the institutions? How can craft exhibitions enhance audience development and the educational mission of the museum? There is a lack of serious press coverage for craft related museum exhibitions– how can this be addressed?

SESSION 3. Friday afternoon sessions related to academia, through several topics.

- SESSION 3-A What changes in program or degree requirements would be most helpful for graduating BFA craft students to prepare them to enter the field professionally? How important is it for the maker to study the history of craft?

- SESSION 3-B As a museum intern, what were the most valuable educational skills that helped in your internship, and what areas could be strengthened in preparation for working with craft in museum collections and exhibitions? How important is it for a curator to experience making?

- SESSION 3-C What are the pros and cons of establishing a Ph.D. as the “terminal degree” for studio craft faculty?

- SESSION 3-D How can craft research and scholarship be encouraged at the MA and Ph.D level? Discussion on RFP for university to sponsor a seminar with peer-reviewed papers read.

SESSION 4: What is the status of public and private foundation support for studio craft in the U.S. compared to Australia, Canada, England, Europe? In what ways could the support in the U.S. be encouraged and increased?

SESSION 5: What are the tensions and opportunities of digital technology, new materials, and multiples for makers of studio craft?

SESSION 6: The language and relationship of craft to design and “fine” art is internationally debated. How does the inter-relationship differ for universities, museums, and makers?

SESSION 7: How can we find commonality or shared values between the disparate populations and practices that now fall under the craft/design banner, and what criteria can be used to navigate the shifting landscape as old boundaries erode?


Participants

Grace Cochrane, freelance curator and writer; 1988-2005 curator and senior curator, Australian decorative arts and design, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, AU (2006)

Kim Cridler, Assistant Professor, metalsmithing and jewelry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WS (2007)

Martin DeWitt, Founder and director, Museum of Art, Western Carolina University, NC

Kelly H. L’Ecuyer, Ellyn McColgan Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Alan C. Elder, Curator of Canadian Crafts, Decorative Arts and Design, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, CN

Catharine Ellis, Fiber faculty, Haywood CC Professional Crafts Program; President CCCD Nonprofit/Foundation Board, NC (2007)

Paul Harper, Director of ALIAS, furniture design and making, currently studying for his PhD at London Metropolitan University, London, UK

Robyn Horn, sculptor, wood/metal, Windgate Foundation board member, AR

Lydia Matthews, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Parsons, The New School of Design, NY (2004, 2005)

Robert Milnes, Dean, College of Visual Arts and Design, University of North Texas, TX

Rob Pulleyn, clay artist; developer Marshall School Artists Studios; publisher Lark Books 1979- 2005; CCCD nonprofit/foundation board member.

Jody Servon, Assistant Professor, Director of Catherine Smith Gallery, Appalachian State University, NC

Ezra Shales, Assistant Professor, Alfred University, NY

Michael Sherrill, sculptor, clay/glass/metal, ‘06 Kohler resident artist, NC

Brent Skidmore, Director, UNC Asheville, planned Craft Campus, studio furniture, NC

Chris Staley, Professor-in-Charge of the Ceramics Area, School of the Arts, Pennsylvania State University, PA

Cindi Strauss, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX (2007)

Joining the Friday afternoon discussion, the following Windgate Fellowship recipients:

Ben Johnson, 2006 graduate Kent State, BFA in Glass

Andrea Donnelly, 2007 graduate NC State University, BFA in fiber

Tim Maddox, 2007 graduate, Kendall College, BFA in wood/furniture

Jennifer Livingston, 2007 Museum Intern at Woodson Museum, Appalachian State University

View full report

2007

Summary

On April 12-15, 2007 the Center for Craft (formerly the UNC Center for Craft, Creativity and Design) convened twenty-two leaders in the field of craft – artists, curators, faculty, writers from throughout the U.S. with representatives from Canada and England, including Center for Craft Director, Assistant Director and three Center for Craft board members. Friday and Saturday attendees participated in discussions on seven topics, each with three discussion leaders from the group. Lively discussions continued at meals, and as the group assembled at the end of the day for wine and cheese on the veranda of Waverly Inn, one of two inns reserved for retreat participants.

SESSION 1: What education is necessary for the 21st Century studio artist to achieve economic success and/or artist growth and where can it be found.

SESSION 2: How can we attract and train 21st Century craft curators?

SESSION 3: What is the future of the handmade, limited production, and/or mass production in studio craft? What is the impact of technology on makers?

SESSION 4: How is critical writing and scholarship on studio craft being supported and encouraged? What role can the Center for Craft portal www.crafthistory.org serve? (portal recommended in 2006 Craft Think-Tank)

SESSION 5: How is the intersection of craft and design shaping academia and the marketplace?

SESSION 6: Who is the audience for craft in the future and how will we reach that audience?

SESSION 7: What are some shared issues for craft in the U.S., Canada and England? What are some significant differences?

SESSION 8: Recommendations to CCCD for future of the “Think-Tank.” Topics, size of group, changes in structure. Other recommendations.


Participants

Sandra Alfoldy, Assistant Professor, Historical and Critical Studies, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Canada

Charlotte Brown, Director, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University

Kim Cridler, Assistant Professor, metalsmithing and jewelry, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Donald Fortescue, Wood/Furniture faculty, California College of The Arts, CA

Sabrina Gschwandtner, MFA student Bard College, founder of KnitKnit Magazine, NY

Vicki Halper, curator/scholar, co-author Choosing Craft; A Story told by Artists, Seattle, WA

Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics, Ceramics Research Center, Arizona State University Art Museum

Lily Kane, Director of Education, American Craft Council, NY

Simon Olding, Director, Crafts Study Centre, University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, England

Bruce Pepich, Director, Racine Art Museum, WI

Michael Puryear, Furnituremaker, NY

Suzanne Ramljak, Editor, Metalsmith, CT 13. Howard Risatti, author, retired Chair, Craft Department, Virginia Commonwealth University

Cindi Strauss, Curator, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX

Lena Vigna, Curator, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, WI

Andrew Wagner, Editor Craft Magazine, previously Senior Editor, DWELL, NY/CA

Catherine Whalen, Assistant Professor, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, NY

Center for Craft Board Members and Staff participating:

Catharine Ellis, Professional Crafts Program – Fiber, Haywood Community College

Andrew Glasgow, Director, The Furniture Society

Stoney Lamar, wood sculptor

Jean McLaughlin, Director, Penland School of Crafts

Dian Magie, Executive Director

Melissa Post, Assistant Director

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2005

Summary

The Center for Craft (formerly the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design) began hosting a two-day spring retreat in 2002 with the charge to “identify and prioritize initiatives that will advance craft in academia and the curatorial worlds.” In the following three years, the topic of the retreats further developed the initiatives recommended in 2002. Participants in the retreats represented leaders in the field of fine craft – museum directors and curators, university faculty, scholars, editors, critics and artist – with diverse media expertise and geography. Thirty-one craft leaders gave of their time to participate in one or more retreats. Addendum A is a list of all participants. This report consists of abstracts of the four retreats.

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2004
Craft & Scholarship

Summary

Participants in this two-day retreat followed the recommendation from the March 2003 retreat to replace the goal of creating a scholarly peer-reviewed journal, with a peer reviewed grant program for craft research. the 12 participants formulated the process for a Craft Research Fund. In may 2004, the Center for Craft (formerly the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design) received support from a foundation, to follow these guidelines, offering up to $100,000 a year for three years in a pilot program.

Participants

Andrew Glasgow, Executive Director, The Furniture Society

Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics, Ceramics Research Center, Arizona State University Art Museum

Tony Hepburn, Ceramics Department Head, Cranbrook Academy of Art

Janet Koplos, Senior Editor, Art in America; craft text lead author

Gyongy Laky, Fiber Artist, Design Program Faculty, University of California at Davis

Stoney Lamar, Wood sculptor, CCCD Nonprofit Board President

Mark Leach, Deputy Director, Mint Museums

Lydia Matthews, Chair, Graduate Studies in Visual Criticism and Fine Arts, California College of The Arts

Jean McLaughlin, Executive Director, Penland School of Crafts

Bruce Metcalf, Studio jeweler, author, craft text co-author

Tina Oldknow, Curator of Modern Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass

Howard Risatti, Chair, Department of Craft/Material Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Karen Tsujimoto, Senior Curator, Oakland Museum of California

facilitating, Dian Magie, Executive Director, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design

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2003
Craft & Museums

Summary

Prior to the Chicago 2003 SOFA exhibition, a group of craft leaders met to discuss the creation of an inventory of craft in museum collections. This was a component of one of four initiatives identified during the 2002 North Carolina Summit Retreat on Craft charged with identifying initiatives that will advance craft in academia and the curatorial worlds.

Invited Speakers

Edmund de Waal, Senior Research Fellow, Craft Research Centre, The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College

Christine Hennessey, Chief of Art Information Resources, Smithsonian American Art Museum


Participants

Glenn Adamson, Curator, The Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee Art Museum

Andrew Glasgow, Executive Director, The Furniture Society

Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics, Ceramics Research Center, Arizona State University Art Museum

Stoney Lamar, wood sculptor and Board President, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design

Mark Leach, Deputy Director, Mint Museums, Charlotte

Tina Oldknow, Curator of Modern Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass

Melissa Post, Curator, Mint Museum of Craft + Design

Davira S. Taragin, Director of Exhibitions and Programs, Racine Art Museum

Dian Magie, Executive Director, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design who facilitated the meeting


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2003
Craft & Publications

Summary

The two-day retreat on craft publications was convened to discuss and develop specific recommendations for research and publications on craft that were identified as priorities in the March 2002 Summit Retreat on Craft. Four of the ten participants participated in the 2002 retreat. Before arriving, participants reviewed the initiatives recommended and responding comments from the field published in the North Carolina Summit Retreat on Craft. The meeting was held in UNC Asheville Kellogg Conference Center in Hendersonville North Carolina and sponsored by the Center for Craft formerly The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, a regional center of the University of North Carolina) located adjacent to the Conference Center. Center for Craft Executive Director Dian Magie facilitated the meeting.


Returning participants:

Glenn Adamson, Curator, Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin

Diane Douglas, Executive Director, Center for Liberal Arts, Bellevue Community College (former Director of Bellevue Art Museum, 1991-2001), Bellevue, Washington

Janet Koplos, Senior Editor, Art in America, New York, New York

Martha Drexler Lynn, curator and author (former Curator, 20th Century Decorative Arts Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989-1999), Carmel, California


Additional participants:

Garth Clark, author and owner, Garth Clark Gallery, New York, New York Ned Cooke, Chair, Art History Department, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Andrew Glasgow, Executive Director, The Furniture Society, Asheville, North Carolina

Vicki Halper, curator and author (former curator, Seattle Art Museum), Seattle, Washington

Jim Melchert, Ceramic sculptor and Professor of Art Emeritus, UC Berkeley, Oakland, California

Bruce Metcalf, jeweler, author, critic, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


View full report

2002

Summary

The Center for Craft (formerly the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design) hosted a two-day retreat for 13 national leaders in the field of craft, who met to identify initiatives that would advance craft in academia and the curatorial world. A White Paper (executive summary) was then circulated to more than 80 craft leaders across the country for additional comment. The editing and publishing of the full Proceedings of the Retreat, supported with a grant from the American Craft Council, took place in the 2002 summer. Through a facilitated process, the retreat participants built on their collective experiences to identify a unifying issue that shaped the conversation: How to place craft in a larger cultural context. With a focus on this theme, the group prioritized academia, museums and creators/makers as the top three target audiences.

Through a facilitated process, the retreat participants built on their collective experiences to identify a unifying issue that shaped the conversation: How to place craft in a larger cultural context. With a focus on this theme, the group prioritized academia, museums, and creators/makers as the top three target audiences.

The conversation then shifted to focus on initiatives for future action. The group was asked to think of as many tactics as possible and as the discussion continued, there became a clear sense of the interwoven nature of these target audiences. Participants began looking at the intersections that joined these groups and found that there were four main initiatives that would have the greatest impact on the field: 1) a book on the history of craft; 2) a scholarly journal; 3) a university craft studies program with an endowed chair; and 4) placement of craft within museum collections.

Participants broke into two groups to identify strategies that would move these initiatives from idea to reality. The entire group expanded on the strategies developed and discussed each topic. The following reflect the major suggestions in each area, prioritized from the initiative the group felt would make the greatest impact on “how to place craft in a larger cultural context” relative to “advancing craft in academia and the curatorial world.”

1. A BOOK ON THE HISTORY OF CRAFT

Title: The American Studio Craft Movement. The idea for this survey text is overwhelmingly considered the most important charge. Some of the specifics are as follows: a) include a brief historical section on precursors to the Studio Craft movement; b) organize the book chronologically; c) emphasize movements and topical issues; d) follow major historical benchmarks; e) include education and support group chapters; f) avoid separating material by media; g) strive for diversity in the artists discussed. The author should be one editor who works with a number of writers and has the authority to re-write all text to present a unifying voice. Another approach would be a single author who can analyze and keep content fresh. The audience would include those in cultural studies, art history, studio work, American studies, makers not enrolled in university programs, collectors, dealers, museums and libraries.

2. SCHOLARLY JOURNAL

A scholarly bi-annual Craft Studies: History and Criticism is needed that will have an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on the aesthetic, and includes technical analysis only as it applies to the aesthetic. Standard features include: a) a critical book review; b) critical exhibition reviews; c) well-researched scholarly articles with footnotes; d) craft criticism; e) technical information as part of a larger context; f) interviews to capture verbal history of leaders/makers in craft field; and g) craft as a subject from the interdisciplinary approach. This journal is without restriction to media, cultural environment, historical era or geographical region. The primary focus, however, is North America.Recommend an editorial board with a paid managing editor. Authors should be compensated for their contributions.

3. A UNIVERSITY CRAFT STUDIES PROGRAM WITH AN ENDOWED CHAIR

This could be an interdisciplinary program leading to a degree, or alternately, a concentration within an existing degree program. This type of program will be placed in a university that a) demonstrates existing support for programs that are interdisciplinary; b) has a museum on campus or in the community for research; c) has an appropriate library; and d) has a supportive community of craft artists. A director will be named as an endowed chair placed in a department (most likely an art history department). This position will entail both the administrative and professorial aspects of running the program. The chair should have knowledge or experience in studio craft (e.g. MFA) and/or have a Ph.D. in American studies or art history.

4. PLACEMENT OF CRAFT WITHIN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Museums need to be surveyed to track the expansion and contraction of the field, the percentage of exhibits relating to fine craft over a five-year period, and focus of museums, including the opening of new “craft” museums. A survey and database with images of work in collections would assist in the study of craft and exhibits co-sponsored by several museums. A fund should be established for museums to acquire craft objects for their permanent collections. Grants are needed for educational programs and also a source that could subsidize participation fees for traveling craft exhibits. The acquisition assistance should be open to all museums, while the education and traveling exhibitions monies should target general museums who do not specialize in craft. Additional strategies that support craft in museum collections involve acquisition support, traveling exhibition support and educational department support.

Participants

Glenn Adamson, Curator, Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee Art Museum, Wis.

Joan Falconer Byrd, author, Professor of Art, Western Carolina University, N.C.

Diane Douglas, Executive Director, Center for Liberal Arts, Bellevue Community College, Wash.

Mary F. Douglas, Curator of Collections, Southern Highlands Craft Guild, Asheville, N.C.

Robert Ebendorf, Belk Distinguished Professor in Metal, East Carolina University, N.C.

Janet Koplos, Senior Editor, Art in America, New York

Martha Drexler Lynn, author/curator, 19th- and 20th century production and studio craft, Carmel, Calif.

Bruce Pepich, Director, Wustum Museum of Art, Racine, Wis.

James Tanner, Professor of Art, Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn.

Kenneth Trapp, Curator-in-Charge, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, fiber artist, Professor of Art, San Jose State University, Calif.

Dian Magie, Executive Director, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design

Lynn Jones Ennis, proceedings editor

Randy Siegel, facilitator

Scheduled but unable to attend

Garth Clark, author and owner, Garth Clark Gallery, New York

Howard Risatti, Chair, Department of Crafts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Va.

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Field Building