"Present Tense: 2019" Conference

Keynote speaker – Hrag Vartanian


The editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian is an editor, art critic, curator, and lecturer on contemporary art with an expertise on the intersection of art and politics.

Breaking news, award-winning reporting, informed opinions, and quality conversations about art have helped Hyperallergic reach over a million readers a month. Some of his notable essays from the past few years include “Imagining the Future Before Us: Forward to Sharon Louden’s The Artist as Culture Producer (Walker Blog, March 17, 2017), “Adrian Paci Shows Us How We Mourn the Death of Dictators” (Hyperallergic, October 12, 2017), and “The Elusive Index of Relationships Between Everyone” (Hyperallergic, June 15, 2018).

He started podcasting regularly in 2016, and last year he launched Art Movements, which is a weekly audio magazine. Notable past episodes have wondered why the female painters of Abstract Expressionism are still being overlooked. He also traveled to North Dakota to record a three-part series from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, and he composed a long-form audio essay about the life and art of David Wojnarowicz that talks to the deceased artist’s friends, his friend-turned-biographer, and the ACT UP members who spearheaded the actions at the museum retrospective in 2018.

He has curated exhibitions and published in alternative venues and formats for two decades, and in 2017, he began a 10-year project titled Fixed Point Perspective, which will look at the contemporary legacy of Ottoman studio photography. In April 2018, he created a collaborative installation with artist Sharon Louden at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in Brooklyn, New York. Titled Origins, it explored the five-year professional and personal friendship between the pair as a starting point for a bigger conversation about beginnings and ends. The video from the installation is also available on his YouTube channel.

He also tweets a lot.


Additional speakers, presenters, and facilitators


Glenn Adamson

Glenn Adamson is a curator, writer, and historian who works at the intersection of craft and contemporary art.

Currently a senior scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, he has previously been director of the Museum of Arts and Design, head of research at the V&A, and curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. He is editor of Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making, published by CraftNOW Philadelphia in conjunction with Schiffer Publishing on the occasion of "Present Tense: 2019." Adamson’s publications include Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects (2018); Art in the Making (2016, co-authored with Julia Bryan-Wilson); The Invention of Craft (2013); Postmodernism: Style and Subversion (2011, co-edited with Jane Pavitt); The Craft Reader (2010); and Thinking Through Craft (2007). Most recently he has completed a biography of the artist Lenore Tawney, included in the John Michael Kohler Art Center’s exhibition catalogue Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe.


Elisabeth Agro

Elisabeth Agro is The Nancy M. McNeil curator of American modern and contemporary crafts and decorative arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

She is co-founder and advisor of Critical Craft Forum, an online platform for dialogue and exchange, and has served as an international advisor for the 2015 Cheongiu Craft Biennale, Cheongiu and a juror of the 8th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, 2015 in Icheon, South Korea. She is also a contributor to American Silver in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Volume 1 (2018), featuring metalsmiths from the 17th – 21st centuries. With many installations and exhibitions to her credit, Agro is delighted to be co-curating a major survey of contemporary Korean art, planned for 2021. She is a member of a dynamic curatorial team of seven to conceive an inaugural exhibition for the museum’s new contemporary art galleries, which will open to the public in 2020. If that weren’t enough, Agro occupies herself with thoughts about craft and its relationship to nomenclature, classifications, and the marketplace.


Ryan Berley

Ryan Berley is a Media, Pennsylvania, native, his parents having been married at The Old Mill in Rose Valley. When the family wasn't traveling the country visiting antique markets and museums, they were living above their antiques shop, The Saturday Evening Experience, on Baltimore Avenue.

Ryan graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with dual degree in history and entrepreneurship. Following college, he worked as an auction specialist at Samuel T. Freeman & Company, heading the 20th-century design department. He has traveled to arts and crafts sites in England, Europe, and the United States and attended a variety of arts and crafts conferences. In 2004, Ryan and his brother Eric opened The Franklin Fountain, a turn-of-the-century soda fountain/ice cream parlor in Old City, Philadelphia, that has received international acclaim. In 2011, the Berley brothers purchased and preserved nearby Shane Confectionery, the oldest candy shop in America, and they continue to handcraft sweets onsite in the old-world tradition. They have been featured in Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, and Food & Wine and received preservation awards for their work. Ryan has curated and lectured on craftsmanship, history, baseball, and confectionery at local and international institutions. Since 2015, Ryan has been a board member of the Rose Valley Museum & Historical Society, where he is curator of the Rose Valley Museum. Ryan and his partner Lizzie, along with her sister Mary Ellen and brother Jim, are the resident caretakers of the house at Thunderbird Lodge, a 1904 masterwork by William L. Price in Rose Valley.


Emily Bunker

Emily Bunker works as a builder with a focus on fine woodworking, community design education, and material research.

She has worked in a range of woodshops, including that of Michael Hurwitz, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Conservation Department, and a five-year stint as a project manager at Staack Moore Woodworking. She has helped to set up several woodshops and makerspaces across Philadelphia and in Chester, Pennsylvania through Tiny WPA and with the Village of Art and Humanities. Her dedication to supporting women and historically marginalized communities in the woodworking field has been generously supported by the Leeway Foundation. She currently maintains her practice teaching community-focused design and fabrication while pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design.


Meg Bye

Meg Bye is an artist based in Seattle. Pronouns she/her. Bye started woodworking at an early age, and moved on to study sculpture, conservation, and business.

In 2014, Bye founded Knot & Burl Studios, a sculpture and fine furnishings studio in Seattle. Her large-scale, site-specific installations blend traditional craft knowledge into modern sculptural spaces. Bye works in wood, metal, leather, glass and organically sourced materials. She sells to private and public collections, and her work can be found in Chicago, Seattle, Alaska, Boston, New York, London, and Paris. Bye is an active advocate for cultural growth that empowers artists. She is a frequent lecturer and advocate for women and gender non-binary individuals within the maker/arts fields.


Seth C. Bruggeman

Seth C. Bruggeman is an associate professor of history at Temple University, where he also directs the Center for Public History.

A graduate of the College of William & Mary’s PhD program in American studies, Bruggeman studies the role of memory in public life, and particularly how Americans have used objects – in museums, monuments, historic, sites, and other commemorative spaces – to exert control over how we understand the past. His courses concern American cultural history, material culture, memory, and public history. His books include Commemoration: The American Association for State and Local History Guide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), Born in the USA: Birth and Commemoration in American Public Memory (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), and Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument (University of Georgia Press, 2008).


Syd Carpenter

Syd Carpenter's ceramic sculpture focuses on African American farming and gardening.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the James A. Michener Art Museum, and the Tang Teaching Museum of Skidmore College in addition to numerous public and private collections. She has been a recipient of a Pew fellowship in the arts, National Endowment for the Arts grants, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, and Leeway fellowships in the arts. She is currently professor of studio art at Swarthmore College, where she teaches ceramics and drawing.


Sarah Darro

Sarah Darro is a curator of contemporary craft, material culture, and design.

She holds an MA in visual, material and museum anthropology from the University of Oxford and a BA in art history from Barnard College of Columbia University. A former Windgate curatorial fellow at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and recipient of the 2018 Houston Arts Alliance Creativity Express grant, Darro is a contributor to catalogues on contemporary craft and decorative arts and has been selected to jury international exhibitions. Her intersectional curatorial vision is invested in reinvigorating museum spaces as forums for discourse, innovation, and action.


Jennifer Ling Datchuk

Jennifer Ling Datchuk is an artist born in Warren, Ohio, and raised in Brooklyn, New York.Trained in ceramics, she works with porcelain and other materials often associated with traditional women’s work, such as textiles and hair, to discuss fragility, beauty, femininity, intersectionality, identity, and personal history.

ACC's 2017 Emerging Voices artist, Datchuk holds an MFA in artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a BFA in crafts from Kent State University. She has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, Artpace, and the Linda Lighton International Artist Exchange Program, allowing her to research the global migrations of porcelain and blue and white pattern decoration. The Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum awarded her a residency to conduct her studio practice at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany, and she has participated in residencies at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, Vermont Studio Center, European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands, and Artpace. She lives and maintains a studio practice in San Antonio, Texas, and serves as assistant professor of ceramics at Texas State University.


Helen W. Drutt English

Helen W. Drutt English (Helen Drutt) was executive director and a founding member of the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen (1967 – 1974) and the founder/director of her eponymous gallery in Philadelphia (1973 – 2002), which was among the first galleries in the United States to make a commitment to the modern and contemporary craft movement.

In 1973, she developed the first syllabus for a college-level course in the history of the field. She has received numerous awards and two honorary degrees. Drutt is a trustee of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the Distinguished Educator’s Award 2018, James Renwick Alliance. She has built a permanent collection of contemporary crafts for The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, and has organized numerous exhibitions during the past decades for national and international museums.


Vashti DuBois

Launched in 2015, The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM) "honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls of the african diaspora.”

It is the first institution of its kind, offering visitors a multi-disciplinary experience of memoir, in all its variety, in a residential space. This museum initiates the “ordinary” object — submitted by the colored girl herself, as representative of an aspect of her story and personal history which she finds meaningful; her object embodies her experience and expression of being a Colored Girl. TCGM has been engineered to pop up in other cities and neighborhoods around the country — transforming ordinary spaces into Colored Girls Museum outposts, which collect, archive, and share the stories of indigenous colored girls. This start-up Museum enterprise has been written about in Smithsonian, Essence, Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro, and others.

Founder and executive director of TCGM Vashti DuBois has held leadership positions at a number of organizations over her 30-year career in non-profit and arts administration, working primarily on issues impacting girls and women of color including Free Library of Philadelphia, Tree House Books, the Historic Church of the Advocate, Children's Art Carnival in New York City, Haymarket People's Fund in Boston, Congreso Girls Center, and The Leeway Foundation. DuBois is a graduate of Wesleyan University, and a NAMAC Fellow. She is currently working on a book about the making of TCGM.


Raheleh T. Filsoofi

Raheleh Filsoofi is a multidisciplinary artist based in Texas, South Florida, and Iran.

Her work synthesizes sociopolitical statements as a point of departure and further challenges these fundamental arguments by incorporating ancient and contemporary media such as ceramics, poetry, ambient sound, and video; aiming for a holistic sensory experience. Her interdisciplinary practices act as interplay between the literal and figurative contexts of border, immigration, and intercultural communications. She is an active participant in juried art exhibitions in Iran and the United States, including the recent solo exhibition “The Inh(a/i)bited Space” a multimedia Installation on border and immigration issues at the O’Kane Gallery in Houston, Texas, (2018) and “Imagined Boundaries,” a multimedia digital installation consisting of two separate exhibitions debuted concurrently at Florida Cultural Consortium and Abad Art Gallery in Tehran (2017); “Dual Frequency” group exhibition at Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida (2017). She has been the recipient of various grants and awards, such as the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Dave Bown Project Award (2016). She is assistant professor of ceramics at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley department of art. She holds an MFA in fine arts from Florida Atlantic University and a BFA in ceramics from Al-Zahra University in Tehran, Iran.


Troyd A. Geist

As a folklorist for the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA), Troyd A. Geist works to encourage the preservation and continuation of folk and traditional arts, heritage, and culture.

His responsibilities include managing the Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program, conducting on-going research and documentation of folklore and folk art, advising the NDCA and its sub-grantees on appropriate ways to expand the state's awareness of its cultural heritage, producing folk art and folklife exhibits, publications, and audio recordings, and assisting with folk arts integration efforts in other agency programs. Holding an MA in sociology and anthropology from North Dakota State University. He has also examined the interplay between folk art, folk culture and health in the following areas: the impact of arts on the “three plagues” that affect the health of elders in care facilities, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the impact of traditional storytelling as a counseling tool, Bell’s palsy as viewed and treated in traditional cultures, Familial Alzheimer’s Disease tracking using anthropological methods, and the use of culturally-infused narration and traditional music as guided imagery designed to have a physiologic impact on the human body (with Sanford Health). His early work with folk arts and artists in eldercare facilities resulted in the development of the NDCA’s nationally-recognized Art for Life program, which seeks to improve the emotional and physical wellbeing of elders through intensive art and artist interaction.


Alex Gilliam

A cheerleader of possibility, Alex Gilliam is the founder and director of Public Workshop and the co-founder of Tiny WPA. He believes great design, empowerment, innovation, and having fun are not mutually exclusive.

Uniquely combining his skills as a designer, teacher, expert builder, and social entrepreneur, Alex is redefining the way youth and adults participate as citizens and leaders in the design of their communities and works with them to address the most pressing challenges in the world around them. His engagement-through-doing methods often start with building, and from the very beginning of every project he is designing and building with rather than for. His work has been featured on NPR and in magazines such as Metropolis, ID, Architect, and the Architect’s Newspaper, as well as showcased on various websites including EduTopia, Fast Company, BMW Guggenheim Lab|Log, GOOD, Kaboom!, Core 77, Yahoo!, and NBC’s TODAY. Alex received his BS Arch with a minor in history from the University of Virginia and an M.Arch from the University of Texas in Austin.


PJ Gubatina Policarpio

PJ Gubatina Policarpio is an educator, curator, and community organizer. His practice uses research, collaboration, pedagogy, and curatorial and public programming as both art and tool.

PJ designs spaces for critical and thoughtful interactions between communities, artists, and art; especially addressing a diverse, multilingual, and multicultural audience. He brings dynamic experience in museum education and art administration previously working at the Museum of Modern Art, Queens Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He has presented at Open Engagement, American Alliance of Museums, and the College Art Association and delivered lectures/presentations at Cooper Hewitt, the Field Museum, The New School, Textile Arts Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and more. His publication Textiles of the Philippines is in the collection of the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Born in the Philippines, PJ works between Queens and San Francisco. Find him on Instagram @pjpolicarpio.


Raven Halfmoon

Raven Halfmoon (Caddo Nation) is from Norman, Oklahoma, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she earned a double bachelor’s degree in ceramics/painting and cultural anthropology.

Her work has been featured in multiple exhibitions throughout the US as well as internationally. Raven is currently based in Norman, where she is working to establish her own studio while producing work at the University of Oklahoma. She is represented by Gallery FRITZ in Santa Fe.


Clara Hollander

Clara Hollander is the co-founder and president of CraftNOW Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to uniting, supporting, and promoting the region’s craft organizations through coordinated, thematic exhibitions, symposiums, events, and marketing.

Formerly owner and principal of corporate art consulting business, Hollander Fine Art, Hollander has worked with many premier clients both regionally and nationally. Hollander has served on numerous boards, curated exhibitions, and has been a presenting lecturer at various functions and institutions. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and English from Temple University and studied for two years under Violette De Mazia at the
Barnes Foundation.


Michael Hurwitz

Michael Hurwitz has been making studio furniture for forty years – since earning a BFA from Boston University’s Program in Artisanry in 1979.

His work is included in several public collections, including the Boston and Philadelphia Museums of Art and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington DC. He has received numerous grants and awards, including fellowships from the Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, NEA, Tiffany, PEW, and US/Japan Foundations. Recent honors include becoming fellow of the American Craft Council and a Masters of the Medium Award from the Renwick Alliance. Hurwitz has stated simply that he “tries to make furniture that is timeless, elegant, and respectful of the nature of materials.” The interest in maximizing the strength-to-weight ratio and search for the place where that balance exists most harmoniously continues for him as a primary directive.


Sonya Kelliher-Combs

Alaska Native mixed-media artist and arts advocate, educator, and curator, Sonya Kelliher-Combs was born and raised in rural Alaska.

Her BFA is from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and MFA from Arizona State University. Her work has been exhibited extensively and can be found in numerous collections. Kelliher-Combs lives in a modern world, but still depends on the cultural traditions and values of her people, respect of land, animals, sea, and each other. Personal symbolism forms her imagery. Symbols speak to history, culture, family, and the life of her peoples; they also speak about abuse, marginalization, and the struggles of indigenous people. She strives to create works that address these issues.


Kate Kramer

Kate Kramer, PhD, is lecturer in critical writing at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). Recent scholarship includes chapters in Routledge’s PERFORM: Succeeding as a Creative Professional series and in IGI’s Visual Imagery, Metadata, and Multimodal Literacies Across the Curriculum.

Her professional development seminars and workshops take place at universities as well as conferences like the College Art Association, Self-employment in the Arts, and the National Art Education Association. She began teaching business of art seminars in 2000 with a curriculum based upon her work as a curator, gallery director, editor, art historian, public arts administrator, and writer.


Bud Larsen

Born in Mandan, North Dakota in 1943, Bud Larsen grew up on his grandparents’ homestead in a community of Norwegian immigrants.

His mother's parents immigrated from Norway in the mid-1890s, and his father, who was born in Førde, Norway, was a violin collector, fiddler, and music teacher. His prized possessions were three Hardanger violins built by his good friend Gunnar Helland from Bo, Telemark, Norway. Helland, one of the last of four generations of fine Norwegian luthiers famous for building Hardanger fiddles, moved his business to Fargo, North Dakota, in 1929. Larsen’s family moved to Fargo in 1953, where he began working under Helland at the age of 12 to learn violin building and repair. Although Scandinavian barn dance, kitchen dances, and Hardanger fiddle competitions were becoming a thing of the past at that time, interest in the Hardanger fiddle began to grow again during the 1980s and 90s along with a renewed interest in Norwegian folk music traditions and the formation of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America. During this time, many vintage Hardanger fiddles were found and restored from farmsteads and attics all over North Dakota, and interest in learning to play the instrument burgeoned. Having taught building courses for various musical instruments in Mexico, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, the renewed interest in Hardanger fiddles prompted Larsen to begin building them and other under-strung, fold fiddles in 1991. With the help of the North Dakota Council for the Arts, Larsen has instructed nine apprentices in the art of Hardanger fiddle making over the last seven years.


Beth Lipman

Glass artist Beth Lipman lives and works in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.

She has received numerous awards including a USA Berman Bloch fellowship, a Pollock Krasner grant, a Virginia Groot Foundation grant, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. She recently completed One Portrait of One Man, a sculptural response to Marsden Hartley for the Weisman Art Museum. Lipman has exhibited her work nationally and internationally at the Ringling Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gustavsbergs Konsthall, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her work has been acquired by numerous museums, including the North Carolina Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Corning Museum of Glass. Collective Elegy, a Retrospective, will be held at the Museum of Arts and Design in May 2020.


Sharon Louden

Sharon M. Louden is an artist, educator, advocate for artists, editor of the Living and Sustaining a Creative Life series of books and the artistic director of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution.

Sharon is a faculty member in the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and a Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art where she organizes a popular Lecture Series, interviewing luminaries and exceptional individuals in the art world and from afar. In addition, Louden is active on boards and committees of various not-for-profit art organizations and volunteers her time to artists to further their careers, working with the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Ox-Bow School of Art and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, NYFA and the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation.


Roberto Lugo

Roberto Lugo is an American artist, ceramist, social activist, spoken-word poet, and educator. Lugo uses porcelain as his medium of choice, illuminating its aristocratic surface with imagery of poverty, inequality, and social and racial injustice.

Lugo’s works are multicultural mash-ups, traditional European and Asian porcelain forms and techniques reimagined with a 21st-century street sensibility. Lugo is the recipient of the 2019 Rome Prize. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and more.


Anna Metcalfe

Anna Metcalfe teaches ceramics and sculpture at Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As an artist, she works at the junction of public art, social engagement, and craft.

She makes work inspired by water, agriculture, food, and community and is a recipient of several awards and grants – notably, Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants in fiscal years 2013, 2015, and 2017, an environmental artist fellowship and residency at the Camargo Foundation, and, most recently in 2018, an open studio fellowship at Franconia Sculpture Park.


Jennifer-Navva Milliken

Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the artistic director for the Center for Art in Wood. Prior to her arrival at the Center, she served as an embedded staff member in international art museums, as an independent curator, and as the founder of a cross-disciplinary art space.

Her exhibitions have been presented in museums, art fairs, galleries, and unconventional spaces, and her writings have been seen in exhibition catalogues, anthologies, and publications that investigate and critique the intersecting fields of art, craft, and design. With a global perspective honed through a life split between two continents, she is driven by the extraordinary power of the arts to challenge preconceptions and bridge divides.


Bruce W. Pepich

Bruce W. Pepich is the executive director and curator of collections of the Racine Art Museum (RAM) and the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts. In the 1990s, he assembled one of the most significant contemporary craft collections found in any art museum in North America. He opened RAM in 2003 in downtown Racine as a second campus that is home to this collection.

Pepich curates exhibitions from RAM’s 9,500-piece collection and regularly presents lectures on contemporary crafts around the country. He is a published writer and has served as a juror for over 135 national and international art competitions and fellowship awards. In 2012, he was inducted as an honorary fellow into the American Craft Council’s college of fellows and currently serves on the Council’s board of trustees.


Perry A. Price

Perry A. Price is executive director of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) in Houston, Texas.

Price received a BA in art history from the Johns Hopkins University and an MA in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies of the State University of New York Oneonta and the New York State Historical Association. Prior to joining the HCCC, he served as director of education for the American Craft Council in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was responsible for developing and presenting programming and outreach, providing thought leadership, and cultivating critical thinking on the field of contemporary craft. He previously served as curator of exhibitions and collections for Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, where he developed and oversaw all aspects of the museum’s exhibitions and collections initiatives. He is a scholar of contemporary studio craft, material culture, decorative arts, and design.


Paul Sacaridiz

Paul Sacaridiz is the executive director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. He has more than 16 years of experience in higher education, and prior to leading Haystack, he served as professor and chair of the department of art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Paul has been a fellow with the National Council of Arts Administrators and has served on the boards of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+). His work as an artist has been included in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, among others.


Mary Savig

Mary Savig is the curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archive of Lenore Tawney,” currently on view at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She also collects papers for the mid-Atlantic region and on the subject of American studio craft. She has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Judith Schaechter

Judith Schaechter has lived and worked in Philadelphia since graduating in 1983 with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design glass program. She has exhibited widely, including in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, The Hague, and Vaxjo, Sweden.

She is the recipient of many grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in crafts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, the Joan Mitchell Award, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awards, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a Leeway Foundation grant. Her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Hermitage in Russia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and numerous other public and private collections. Judith’s work is noted in two survey-type history textbooks, Women Artists by Nancy Heller, and Makers by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos. Judith has taught workshops at numerous venues, including Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, the Penland School of Crafts, Toyama Institute of Glass (Toyama, Japan), and Australia National University in Canberra Australia. She has taught courses at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy, the New York Academy of Art, and at the University of the Arts, where she is ranked as an adjunct professor. Judith's work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, a collateral exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2012, and she is a 2008 USA Artists Rockefeller Fellow. In 2013, Judith was inducted into the American Craft Council College of Fellows.


Paul J. Smith

Paul J. Smith, director emeritus of the American Craft Museum (now Museum of Arts and Design), has been involved with the craft and design field for more than 50 years.

He joined the staff of the American Craft Council in 1957 and was appointed director of the museum in 1963. In September of 1987, he assumed the position of director emeritus to develop an independent consulting service to the field that he maintains today. Having served on numerous boards and committees, he is currently a trustee of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and serves as president of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation.


Susan S. Szenasy

Susan S. Szenasy is known as a design advocate, historian, and educator. She taught history and ethics at New York’s Parsons School of Design.

She is director of design innovation at Metropolis, where she served as editor in chief for more than three decades. Among many recognitions, she’s received a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and four honorary doctorates. She is advisor to NYSID’s Masters in sustainable design, Parsons’ Healthy Material Lab, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s board of emeritus.


Lucille Tenazas

Lucille Tenazas is an educator and graphic designer based in New York. She is the Henry Wolf professor of communication design at Parsons School of Design, where she is currently the associate dean in the School of Art, Media and Technology.

Originally from Manila, the Philippines, she has taught and practiced in the United States since 1979, a trajectory that included living in San Francisco from 1985 to 2005 and Rome in 2005-06. Lucille’s work explores the intersection of typography and linguistics, with design that reflects complex and poetic means of visual expression. Lucille received the AIGA Medal in 2013, the most prestigious in the field, awarded by the American Institute of Graphic Arts for her lifetime contribution to design practice and outstanding leadership in design education. She also received the National Design Award for Communication Design from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2002.


Lena Vigna

Currently curator of exhibitions at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin, where she curates and oversees the production and implementation of 10 – 15 exhibitions per year and heads the department, Lena Vigna has a particular interest in the contemporary fields of adornment, sculpture, fiber, and installation.

Vigna has curated numerous solo and group exhibitions and written several essays that explore issues relevant to contemporary art and society. Open to multiple interpretations and understandings of art, she seeks to engage diverse audiences and often uses the framework of the past to talk about the present. Named one of the top craft curators under 50 in an unpublished museum survey, Vigna was awarded a Craft Research Fund Project Grant from the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design for an exhibition about contemporary approaches to lace and received an Art Jewelry Forum grant for Adornment and Excess: Jewelry in the 21st Century.


Namita Gupta Wiggers

Namita Gupta Wiggers is director of the MA program in critical and historical craft studies at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina – the first low-residency graduate program focused on developing a field of craft studies.

She is also director of Critical Craft Forum, which she co-founded in 2008. From 2004 to 2014, Wiggers served as curator and then director and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon. She lives in and works from Portland.


Folayemi (Fo) Wilson

Folayemi Wilson is an artist, educator, writer, and independent curator. She earned an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in furniture design with a concentration in art history, theory and criticism.

She is a grant recipient of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Propeller Fund. Her writing and reviews have appeared in such publications as NKA, Journal of Contemporary African Art, and the International Review of African American Art (IRAAA). Wilson has been awarded residencies or fellowships at ACRE, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Djerassi, Kohler Arts/Industry program, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, MacDowell Colony, and Purchase College/SUNY Purchase New York. She is on the board of the American Craft Council and was honored as a 3Arts awardee in 2015. Her design work is included in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design.


Carol Zou

Carol Zou is an artist, writer, educator, and cultural organizer, who has worked for more than a decade on the relationship between arts, culture, community, and activism.

Notable projects include Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Michelada Think Tank, and Trans.lation Vickery Meadow. Carol received her BFA from Cornell University with minors in Urban Planning and Gender Studies, and her MFA in public practice from Otis College of Art and Design. She has participated in fellowships and residencies from Intercultural Leadership Institute, National Art Strategies, Women's Center for Creative Work, Common Field, University of Chicago Place Lab-Rebuild Foundation, and University of Houston College of the Arts-Project Row Houses.


Jennifer Zwilling

Jennifer Zwilling joined The Clay Studio in Philadelphia as the curator of artistic programs in 2015.

Previously, she was assistant curator of American decorative arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She taught History of Modern Craft at Tyler School of Art and Architecture for ten years, as well as American Art History at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Zwilling is especially interested in fostering connections between traditional craft media and contemporary artists. Through her scholarship and curatorial projects, she explores the intersections between rich historical cultural traditions and vibrant contemporary artistic life in Philadelphia.


Other main stage participants

Keith Bear, Mandan-Hidatsa storyteller and musician

Sarah Marriage, furniture maker, founder, A Workhop of Our Own

Laura Mays, program director, Fine Woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in Northern California, founding president, Krenov Foundation

Sarah Schultz, executive director, ACC

Janice Smith, furniture maker

Michael J. Strand, professor of art and head of visual arts, North Dakota State University, board of trustees, ACC