HOME OF CRAFT FELLOWS
MODERN WORKSHOP OF THE WORLD
Centrally located on the northeast corridor between art and craft centers in Boston and New York City on the north, and Baltimore and Washington DC on the south, Philadelphia today is the fifth largest city in the United States at over 1.5 million population. Creativity has flourished for three centuries, starting at least with inventor Benjamin Franklin and early furniture makers, continuing into the late 1800s and early 1900s when the city was an industrial workshop that supplied the world with products from locomotives to Stetson hats to fine lace.
Philadelphia’s seasoned contemporary craft practitioners span three quarters of a century. In the last two decades alone, the American Craft Council of Minneapolis, MN, has designated over two dozen Philadelphia artists, individuals and organizations as Fellows, Honorary Fellows or Award of Distinction, respectively, in recognition of more than 25 years of outstanding practice of their art or mission.
In 2014, a group of local craft collectors and advocates began meeting to discuss creating an annual initiative to highlight the city’s craft heritage, artists and associated assets. The program would run concurrently with the nationally acclaimed Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, organized annually by the Women’s Committee to benefit the museum. Now in its 39th year, the Craft Show draws thousands to the city for multiple days of previews, exhibitions and other activities. A major motivation was to enhance Philadelphia’s visibility as a national center of craft by offering visitors additional crafts-related programming around the city.
The working title of Craft NOW Philadelphia 2015, inspired consortium member Albert LeCoff to suggest that honoring the Philadelphia American Craft Council (ACC) College of Fellows, Honorary Fellows and designated organizations provided a perfect proof of concept for the Craft NOW Philadelphia 2015 initiative. The Craft NOW Philadelphia 2015 committee adopted the initiative to honor the Philadelphia ACC Fellows. Four venues around the city committed to staging installations to highlight a selection of the Fellows. These installations provide a rich sampling of craft inspired and created by the Philadelphia Fellows.
This publication documents and honors the ACC Fellows, their work, and the individuals and organizations who have also received American Craft Council recognition for life-time contributions to craft. Each artist relays how the city of Philadelphia and its arts culture has nurtured and inspired their practice. Each Fellow within the group personifies Philadelphia’s culture and reputation for craft. The essays read as a who’s who in craft education and studio practice. The photographs capture the artists and their continuing creative work. Four long-standing Philadelphia nonprofit arts organizations feature work by the Philadelphia ACC Fellows:
The Center for Art in Wood
The Clay Studio
Philadelphia Art Alliance
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Helen W. Drutt English
Marion Stroud Swingle
Award of Distinction
The Clay Studio
University of the Arts (UArts)
The new practitioners in the crafts, the arts and computer science are settling into and revitalizing city neighborhoods and warehouses for their homes and studios, much as the ACC Fellows did before them. May the legacy of craft be carried by the young, vigorous talented artists who are making Philadelphia the home of their hopes today. May the legacy of Philadelphia as a birthplace of craft long continue.
—Albert & Tina LeCoff