USA Crafts & Traditional Arts Panel for 2010

Jean McLaughlin (Chair)

Executive Director, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC

Perry Eaton

USA Rasmuson Fellow, Anchorage, AK

Executive Director (Retired) American Craft Council, Asheville, NC

Adam Silverman

Partner and Studio Director, Heath Ceramics, Los Angeles, CA

Lowery Sims

Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY

Statement by Andrew Glasgow

This year marks the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. For people who came of age during the years 1970–2000, as the majority of our nominees did, twentieth-century art still stands as a reference. But ten years into the new century it is really exciting to notice some changes for makers who represent crafts and traditional arts.

These makers are doing extraordinary things. As the barriers come down between traditional craft and what is commonly referred to as studio craft, the landscape grows ever more exhilarating. We see native materials being used to create mind blowing contemporary objects, and we see Native Americans embracing new materials while also honoring the past that is at the core of their work and existence.

It strikes me that makers are braver than ever, unafraid to make political statements of all stripes and to recognize the viability of craft and traditional art as an equal player on the creative field. Craft has long been used for making statements that are both personal and public. It would appear, judging by the nominees, that the time is right for a much wider variety of craft and traditional art to manifest and be celebrated.

Crafts and traditional arts will always be celebrated for their technical prowess and utter beauty, and this year’s nominees suggest that this part of the craft world is thriving. Much has been written about the validity of work that makes us gasp with wonder versus work that challenges us conceptually with techniques frequently deemed less important. That perfectly carved mask, that ceramic pot that is thrown with such elegant form, the furniture that defies imagination, is not, as many have discussed, being dismissed by makers of the twenty-first century. This work has always had a place in our culture and will no doubt continue to do so.

The world of craft has always evolved with the culture within which it is being created. With the external world changing faster and faster, it is a pleasure to see makers keeping a running commentary on their environment while knowing there is also a place for a well-made, traditional object. It binds us to the past in a way that gives us strength to look forward. This perhaps, was the common denominator in 2010: comfort in beauty and skills, and challenges in concept and design.