HOME OF CRAFT FELLOWS
MODERN WORKSHOP OF THE WORLD
For centuries a creative hot bed, modern Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is home to veteran craft persons and artists as well as world class institutions promoting craft. Included are Philadelphia Museum of Art; five highly respected art schools with growing materials-based programs and facilities; rich and varied private and museum collections; dozens of active non-profit craftand community-based arts organizations; and many successful commercial galleries.
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
Each venue features artists who work in wood, clay, glass, fiber and/or metal, in accordance with its mission, including The Center for Art in Wood, The Clay Studio and Philadelphia Art Alliance. Philadelphia Museum of Art, quite fortuitously, is presenting an installation of works by two ACC Fellows which will coincide with this joint initiative. Also honored in this book are Philadelphia individuals and organizations whom the ACC has designated as advocates, curators, and/or agents of change. The individuals and organizations are pictured in the places where they conducted more than twenty-five years of craft advocacy.
Helen W. Drutt English
Marion Stroud Swingle
Award of Distinction
The Clay Studio
University of the Arts (UArts)
Craft NOW Philadelphia 2015 aspires to reach thousands of residents, visitors and craft enthusiasts though this celebration of Philadelphia ACC Fellows, Honorary Fellows and organizations. Just as the veteran artists credit the City with nurturing and inspiring their evolving work, hopes to amplify and pass along the legacy of skill, joy and pride in craft to new practitioners migrating here from other urban centers. These twenty- and thirty-year-olds personify the future of this craftrich city. High rents and gentrification in New York City have made Philadelphia a desirable alternative for energetic, educated, creative young artists.
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