"Craft Transformed: B. U’s Program"

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, June 6, 2023

"Craft Transformed: B. U’s Program"

BROCKTON, MA.- The Fuller Museum of Art presents today “Craft Transformed: Boston University’s Program in Artisanry 1975-1985,” on view through January 4, 2004. The Program in Artisanry was established as a graduate degree and undergraduate certificate program at Boston University from 1975 until 1985, when it was discontinued due to a lack of funding. During that time, many accomplished artists such as Jere Osgood, Dan Jackson and Alphonse Mattia in wood; Chris Gustin and Rick Hirsch in ceramics; J. Fred Woell and Jamie Bennett in metals; and Shirley Fink, Barbara Goldberg and Barbara Eckhardt in fiber were instructors of the program, creating groundbreaking work that was innovative in both technique and content. Many of these artists redefined what it meant to create in their respective mediums, launching a new era of artistic exploration and expression. The regional, national and international impact of PIA is still felt today through the network of crafts people who had contact with the program, either as instructors or students, particularly in regard to the explosive growth of the studio furniture and ceramic fields in the almost twenty years since Boston University’s Program in Artisanry ended.

In 1985, the Program in Artisanry was released from Boston University and relocated as part of the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where it lasted only two years due to the school’s financial difficulties. In 1988, Swain merged with Southeastern Massachusetts University and the Program in Artisanry merged with their existing College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). Swain’s incorporation into the CVPA brought together art faculty from both institutions, heralding many departures from the teaching staff. In 1991, SMU became the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts system. Current faculty include Stephen Whittlesey in wood; Jim Lawton and Barbara Hutchinson in ceramics; Alan Burton Thompson in metals; and Marjorie Durko Puryear in fiber. In 2001, after many years of development, the CVPA moved from the Swain buildings on Purchase Street to the newly renovated Star Store on Union Street. The Star Store houses all of the seniors and the graduate departments of the CVPA as well as the University Art Gallery under the leadership of Director Lasse Antonsen.

In the fall of 2003, two exhibitions are planned to illuminate the unique, creative results of the extraordinary twenty-eight year history of the Program in Artisanry, and to acknowledge the tremendous impact that the program and the artists it nurtured had on the field of contemporary craft. From September 20, 2003 through January 4, 2004, the Fuller Museum of Art will host Craft Transformed: The Program in Artisanry at Boston University 1975 — 1985. The Fuller Museum has recently dedicated its mission to exhibiting works of contemporary craft. Craft Transformed will be one of the first important exhibitions to launch this new direction. The show will include one current work from each former student and one early and one new work by former faculty of the PIA. As many as one hundred works of art in the four media represented (wood, ceramics, metal and fiber) will be included. This exhibition shall perfectly express the richness of craft activity in the Boston area, while making a definitive statement about the new mission of the Fuller Museum.

Concurrently, The University Gallery of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will host Craft Transformed: The Program in Artisanry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 1988 - 2002. This exhibition will be on view from September 13 through October 28, 2003 and will include the work of as many as sixty faculty and graduate students.

A catalogue entitled "Craft Transformed" will complement both exhibitions of the same name. Present and future craft generations will be well served by the publication of a catalogue that documents the contributions of this extraordinary program and artistic period. The curator for the Fuller Museum of Art exhibition is Jonathan Fairbanks, Katherine Lane Weems Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Jonathan will write the central 3,000 word scholarly essay for the catalogue, while overseeing its production and curating the exhibition. For the UMD exhibition, Gail Brown, independent curator and jewelry/metals expert, will write the essay for the catalogue as well as select the work for the show at the University Art Gallery. Former faculty and graduates of the PIA have been invited to contribute essays pertaining to their areas of expertise and the way in which the PIA has affected their respective fields in the last twenty years. Gerry Ward, Katherine Lane Weems Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will edit the catalogue. Craft Transformed will serve to officially recognize the Program in Artisanry for the significant contribution it made, and continues to make, to the arts in New England, America, and the world.

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