An exhibition of "Current Student Work" by participants in the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship's nine-month comprehensive program is on display through May 27 at the Messler Gallery in Rockport, Maine. The 11 students who began the course in September come from diverse backgrounds, including furniture design, instrument making and automotive technology. For many of them, this exhibition is the first opportunity to see their work in a professional setting.
"It never ceases to amaze me how bold students can be. They jump right into a project that a seasoned pro would shy away from ... sometimes with alarming success," says Peter Korn, the center's executive director.
The center's nine-month comprehensive program is designed for aspiring professional furniture makers and dedicated amateurs who seek in-depth training at the highest standard of excellence. Students complete 11 sequential projects that take them from woodworking fundamentals through the fine points of design and craftsmanship. The course is taught by lead instructor Aled Lewis, a highly respected furniture maker from Wales.
Lewis is joined by 11 other teachers, many of whom are Maine locals, including artist/turner Stephen Gleasner (Appleton), furniture makers Jim Macdonald (Burnham) and Pete Schlebecker (Camden), and artist John Whalley (Nobleboro), among others.
"Current Student Work" exhibitors include Paul Biehl, Tom Breglia, Adam Brown, Evan Brown, Ed Hagenbuch, Tim Hewett, Phillip Leonard, Steve Mackiewicz, John Pennisi, Steven Vowles, and Fred Wasch.
American Craft Week is scheduled for Oct. 1-10, and aims to be a craft festival that extends across 50 states by uniting hundreds of artisans, retailers and institutions in a coast-to-coast celebration of all things handmade. The goal is to introduce the public to artisans for whom crafting is a business. Together, participating groups will celebrate the enduring value, cultural importance and quality of craft artisans' creations.
"American Craft enriches our homes, offices and public spaces," said Diane Sulg, co-chair of American Craft Week, in a news release. "It is estimated that craft contributes in excess of $14 billion to the nation's economy and our balance of trade. It is the fabric of our national history. It is original, beautiful and enduring. It is time to make some noise and tell the world about American Craft."
Organizers are asking makers, sellers, curators, instructors, collectors, guilds and others involved in craft to present community events, such as studio tours, art walks, fairs and exhibitions in early October. The idea is a grassroots movement, offering local activities as creative and diverse as the arts themselves.
Participating businesses and artisans will have access to marketing materials and resources, including the American Craft Week logo, banner, Web site and cooperative advertising.
American Craft Week is a project of the Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow trade association (CRAFT), and Craft in America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of craft and the celebration of its impact on our nation's cultural heritage.
In the mode
"Modes of Making: Contemporary Studio Furniture" is an exhibition scheduled June 5 through Aug. 14 at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, where the work of 11 U.S.-based practitioners - artists, craftsmen and designers who are involved in the process of bringing furniture into existence - will be on display. The exhibition will coincide with The Furniture Society's annual conference, which runs June 16-19 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
"Modes of Making" seeks to shed light on the numerous ways that furniture is born and to follow that through to an examination of how the furniture gets out into the world by selecting artists who work through a variety of systems: teaching, galleries, residencies, commissions, trade/craft shows, industrial production/distribution and the like.
Exhibiting artists include Bill Bancroft (Mass.), Shaun Bullens (R.I.), Reagan Furqueron (Maine), Paula Garbarino (Mass.), Michael Iannone (Pa), Yuri Kobayashi (R.I.), Thomas Moser (Maine), Bart Niswonger (Mass.), Silvie Rosenthal (N.C.), Will Tracey (N.Y.) and Stephen Yusko (Ohio).
"Furniture as Art & Art as Furniture: A Joint Exhibition of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters and the New Hampshire Art Association" opens May 7 at the Robert Lincoln Gallery in Portsmouth, N.H., and continues through June 7. This collaborative exhibition features works by the New Hampshire Furniture Masters displayed with art they have inspired.
American Craft Week. www.americancraftweek.com
Furniture Society, 111 Grovewood Road, Asheville, NC 28804. Tel: 828-255-1949. www.furnituresociety.org
Messler Gallery, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 25 Mill St., Rockport, ME 04856. Tel: 207-594-5611. www.woodschool.org
NHFMA, P.O. Box 5733, Manchester, NH 03108. Tel: 603-898-0242. www.furnituremasters.org
Society of Arts and Crafts, 175 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116. Tel: 617-266-1810. www.societyofcrafts.org
This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue.