By Andrea Karen Hammer
As one of Artsphoria’s most eagerly anticipated events each year, the 42nd annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show was another energizing and memorable experience.
Thought-Provoking Conversations With Artists
During this edition of the craft show titled “Art by Hand,” we enjoyed consistently stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with easy-to-approach artists while viewing their extraordinary creations. Many of the artists readily discussed the inspiration for and process behind their hand-crafted work. From colorful glass objects to an increasing trend in functional and wearable art such as woven jackets and hand-crafted bags, some touchable pieces winked at viewers with a welcome sense of humor.
Highlights From “Art by Hand” Craft Show
Here are some of the stand-outs as we walked through seven aisles of craft nirvana at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia this year:
Alan Daigre Designs: Based in Woodbury, TN, this talented furniture maker creates stunning handmade chairs and rockers. Meticulously crafted from small squares of wood that are assembled like puzzle pieces, these beautiful chairs magically conform to your body for comfort.
Julie and Ken Girardini/Girardini Design: This Maryland-based couple creates inventive and useful designs for the home. After nearly three decades of collaboration, their “freedom of expression” and combined vision in their work as well as their life together arises from a foundation of “mutual respect.”
Jaana Mattson Needle Felted Wool: This artist from Minneapolis, MN, won Artsphoria’s prize for the most distinctive pieces in this year’s show. Nature-inspired landscapes, created from this surprising material, were framed in wood blocks retaining their natural shape and creating a three-dimensional light-box effect.
Bob and Eveyln McNally/McNally Strumstick: This couple in Rockaway, NJ, has combined a unique talent for craft and music. Their specially designed instruments ensure “no wrong notes” by holding one string and strumming all three to produce beautiful melodies.
C.T. Whitehouse Sculpture: This artist, who was immediately open to discussing his work in detail, invited us to experience hands-on interaction with one of his bronze sculptures. After enjoying the sound produced from a meditative bell-shaped piece, he described his work as part chemist during the finishing process and the creative life that he shares with his wife, children’s book author Barbara Joosse, in Port Washington, WI.
Craft in America: California and Visionaries on PBS
Craft lovers in search of more inspiration will want to mark their calendar for December 21, 2018, for the PBS premiere of California and Visionaries. The first explores various traditions and innovations from a basket weaver, silversmith, glass artists, cabinetmakers and textile artist. The latter documents the ways that artists encourage others to envision unlimited possibilities through craft.
For details about local schedules for episodes, bonus videos, exhibitions, artist information and learning materials, see www.craftinamerica.org.