The Year in Craft: 2017
The end of the year is often a time of reflection and contemplation. In that spirit, we're kicking off the new year with a look back at the most memorable and significant highlights of 2017 that we've gleaned from our weekly blog series "The Week in Craft."
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are still going strong despite threats from the current administration. Though $5 million under-budget, the NEA received funding for FY2018 and the NEH announced that it would award emergency funds for cultural institutions impacted by Hurricane Harvey. French president Emmanuel Macron made a groundbreaking statement to facilitate the restitution of African artifacts from French museums. Etsy Studio launched in early 2017, and soon after the company cut approximately 15 percent of its workforce. Craft in America continued its series of moving episodes with “Nature,” “Borders,” and “Neighbors,” while we saw the announcements of two craft TV shows: Making It, hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman and At Home with Amy Sedaris.
The year was chock full of great exhibitions that ran the gamut from powerful themes to renowned artists to below-the-radar artists to interactive installations. Learn about the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design’s exhibition, “The Making of Good Things” and the University of Kansas exhibition “What Were You Wearing?” Blum and Poe Gallery hosted ACC Fellow Francoise Grossen’s third solo exhibition, and the Tate Modern hosted a working ceramics factory organized by artist Clare Twomey.
Last year brought some exciting discoveries about craft and the brain, including research into how humans have been wired to create collaboratively, how creatives think differently, and traditional textile techniques being used to knit artificial muscles. Art became more readily available when the Metropolitan Museum of Art provided unrestricted use of more than 375,000 images housed in their digital collection. Google also added a contemporary art digital collection. Plus, a new database catalogued the entire collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, which closed in 2016.
The start of the year was tough for many in the arts, but the continued movements surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion are powerful to see. From the Pussyhat Project and the Women’s March to Ai Weiwei’s continued advocacy for refugees and immigrants to major museums taking a stand in support of transgender individuals, the work has begun. ACC also released its Inclusion and Equity Statement, and we saw the launch of People of Craft and applauded Vogue’s portraits of American women in art that you should know.
A number of individuals and organizations were recognized in the craft field, including the 2017 recipients of ACC's Emerging Voices Awards and Rare Craft Fellowship Award, the 2017 Windgate Fellows, the James Renwick Alliance’s 2017 Masters of Medium, and the 2017 International Somali Innovation Award recipient. In museum news, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, received the largest gift of art since the original Walter Chrysler collection in 1971, and the Museum of Arts and Design announced a new $50,000 annual Burke Prize to be given to artists working specifically in craft-based mediums.
Chris Amundsen left his post as ACC executive director, Jim Baker retired as executive director of Pilchuck Glass School, Albert LeCoff stepped down as executive director of the Center for Wood Art, and executive director Olga Viso left the Walker Art Center. Maria “Mia” Hall was announced as the new director of Penland School of Crafts, Emily Zilber became the new editor for Metalsmith magazine, and Namita Gupta Wiggers will lead a new masters program at Warren Wilson College.
We’ve said goodbye to some great craft businesses and organizations, including Velvet da Vinci (San Francisco), Baltimore Clayworks, and Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis). We also said farewell to some wonderful makers, including ceramist and ACC Fellow John Glick, Polish fiber sculptor, Magdalena Abakanowicz, ACC Honorary Fellow and ceramist, Paulus Berensohn, Vietnamese-American wood and glass artist, Binh Pho, and ACC Fellow and jewelry artist Marjorie Schick.