Craft in AmericaPhysical details: 1 disc. ISBN: 0793693365
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If you think craft is just a project using Popsicle sticks or leftover yarn, think again. It’s truly the American project. Craft gives us a picture view of American history and development as a country and a people. As an art form it is no less valid than painting or sculpture. It’s what makes America, America — and Americans, Americans.
1. Memory: This program takes a personal tour through craft’s history in America, beginning with the pioneers of the field. The episode juxtaposes the intimate stories of some of America’s most prominent craft artists today against the larger historical context of craft itself. The artists are Garry Knox Bennett, a furniture maker who combines conventional woods and unusual materials; Pat Courtney Gold, a basket maker influenced by her ancestors, the Wasco Indians; Mary Jackson, who makes sweetgrass baskets that come out of a tradition that has been passed down to her from her West African ancestors; Tom Joyce, who creates architectural blacksmithing pieces like gates and lighting fixtures; and Sam Maloof, a furniture maker, known for his signature rocker.
2. Landscape: This episode focuses on the relationship between the artists and their physical environment. Craft artists often depend on their natural environment for materials and inspiration. This hour looks at the processes through which natural materials become finished works of craft, and what deeper messages may be contained therein. The artists are Jan Yager, who uses urban flora that grow through the cracks in the pavement to embellish her jewelry; Kit Carson, another jewelry artist who incorporates the romanticism of the 1950s American West in his creations; David Gurney, a painter and potter; George Nakashima, who has employed some of the world’s finest craftsmen in his woodworking shop; and Richard Notkin, a ceramic artist whose work is a vehicle for political commentary.
3. Community: Throughout time, craft work has been a community activity. This hour focuses on the spiritual connection artists make with their communities through craft making. Some express the ideas, beliefs and desires of their community through their craft objects. The personal stories reveal the deeply held belief that craft is about more than just the making of an object — it is also about a way of life and a reason for being. The artists are Jamex de la Torre, a Mexican-American glass sculptor; Sarah Jaeger, who creates functional porcelain pottery; Ken Loeber, a jeweler; Dona Look, a basket maker; Crossroads Quilters, a group of women who create quilts, celebrating the traditional quilting heritage of their community; and Denise Wallace, a jewelry artist known for her elaborate belts, which draw on themes from her native Alaskan Aleut culture.