The Year in Craft: 10 Noteworthy Trends & Events

The Year in Craft: 10 Noteworthy Trends & Events

Published on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.
MOCAD exterior

The Museum of Craft and Design (MOCAD) in San Francisco (2013) 

The American Craft Council's education and library staff members took a look back at the newsmakers, noisemakers and, well, just plain makers who made headlines in 2013. Here are 10 topics that captivated our watercooler conversations:

The Rise, Fall, and Revamp of Craft Museums in the United States
Last December brought the closing of the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Folk Art, but in 2013 we witnessed the reopening of the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, extensive restorations to the Cooper-Hewitt, the sale and impending demolition of the American Folk Art Museum building on 54th Street in New York City, and the closing of the Renwick in December for a two-year renovation project.

Etsy Changes its Definition of Handmade
The online craft mega-market announced in October that it was revising its policies to accommodate sellers that use outside help to manufacture their goods. Meanwhile, across the pond, controversy ensued following the United Kingdom government’s reclassification of craft in the creative industry. In both cases, mixed response from the online community rekindled the ongoing craft definition debate.

3D Printing Hits the Mainstream
From artists to manufacturers, the technologies of 3D printing continued to intrigue and command our attention. New materials, faster and more precise machines, inexpensive or DIY machines, and increasingly public demonstrations have all begun to capture the imagination of makers and consumers alike. With bespoke printed fashions now on the runway and a 3D printer slated to go to the International Space Station next year, the technology have jumped from fad to phenomenon.

Glenn Adamson Appointed Director of the Museum of Arts and Design
With a doctorate in art history and recent experience as director of research at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Adamson was a bold choice for the large, centrally located New York City museum. Adamson was selected in spite of his longtime criticism of MAD and with a lack of administrative experience typical of a museum director. However, given Adamson’s credentials as one of craft’s premiere scholars, the field was abuzz this fall with the expectation of exciting changes and innovations to come.

The Global Aspirations of American Art and Design Schools
Back in January, the New York Times reported on the expansion of art schools, including the Savannah College of Art and Design and Parsons The New School for Design, in countries with a growing creative industry, such as China, Japan, and India. Look for the presence of American art and design schools to increase in the coming years as demand for western education in fields like graphic media and textile design increase.

Emergence of Glass Secessionism
Led by artist Tim Tate, glass secessionism theorizes that artists working with glass today need to distance themselves from the technique-driven, studio traditions of the 20th century in favor of more large scale, narrative-driven, mixed-media works. The cause has gained momentum in the past year, with the increasing popularity of the “Glass Secessionism” Facebook group, which serves as an accessible venue for the showing, discussion, and definition of secessionist works, as well as a lively discussion at the 2013 SOFA Chicago Expo gathering.

David McFadden Retires
The long-time curator and scholar announced in August that he would retire, following his 16-year tenure as chief curator and vice president for programs and collections at MAD. Before his time at MAD, McFadden served as curator of decorative arts  at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and curator of decorative arts at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Contemporary Art Jewelry Steals the Show
At this year’s Design Miami exhibition, more exhibitors specializing in art jewelry were represented than ever before. In addition, several popular jewelry-specific exhibitions also launched in 2013, including “Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger” at the Museum  of Arts and Design in New York, “From Minimal to Bling: Contemporary Studio Jewelry” at the  Society of Arts and Crafts Boston, and “Deitrus” a collaborative exhibition of jewelry made from found elements at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. This year also saw the publishing of the comprehensive tome Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective (edited by Damian Skinner), as well as the Oct./Nov. 2013 jewelry issue of American Craft magazine. Unfortunately, all the excitement around “wearable sculpture” wasn’t able to save the jewelry program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, which closed earlier this year.

Ambitious Exhibitions Abound
Beginning with the extensive travel schedule for the wildly innovative Chipstone Foundation-sponsored exhibit, “Tool at Hand,” this was a year of monumental exhibitions. Other noteworthy craft-themed exhibits involving many years of research, staff dedication, and cross-institutional collaboration included: “Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft” at the Arizona State University Art Museum, “Life on a String: 35 Centuries of the Glass Bead” at the Corning Museum, “Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939” at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, “Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800,” at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and the consortium sponsored “Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture.”

Critical Craft Forum Achieves Critical Mass
With the receipt of a 2013 Windgate scholarship to advance their cause, a shiny new twitter handle (@critcraftforum), plus more than 4,000 Facebook followers, the Critical Craft Forum emerged as a leading cultivator of craft commentary.

In Memorium
In addition to these top events, we’d like to acknowledge the passing of several brilliant stars from the field. As we transition to a new year, let us celebrate the many contributions the following individuals made and the impact they had on the craft, art, and design worlds: Stephen Antonakos, Ruth Asawa, Ivan Bailey, Val Cushing, David Gilhooly, L. Brent Kington, Harvey Littleton, Kirk Mangus, John Paul Miller, Eudorah Moore, Florence Resnikoff, Paolo Soleri, Victor Spinski, and Lizbeth Stewart.