As the weekend comes to a close, and we are on the road to return home, I am much more full than when we left (in more ways than one!). We arrived in Philadelphia a couple of days early to take in some of the city life and museums before moving on to the Craft Forms festivities. As we walked downtown in Philadelphia, we observed and interacted with many faces, from all walks of life, from all parts of the world. We talked with our children about what a fine line it is that exists between us all, how we are all interconnected, and of how each and every person we encountered was full of stories, family histories, and lifetimes of experience, as well as unknown gifts, talents, and treasures. It is sobering to be made so keenly aware of one’s privilege and basic good luck in life, and left us all contemplating how best to make a difference in the suffering of this world.
This awareness of good fortune was so prevalent throughout the rest of the weekend, which was quite a broadening experience. We arrived in Wayne, PA, for the opening gala event for Craft Forms 2016 on Friday evening, to a warmly and festively lit contemporary art center that beckoned all inside. We were greeted by the jubilant and artistic band playing a wide variety of instruments, and musicians that stepped out and engaged with us many times over the course of the night.
There was delicious food that was served, and much excitement and anticipation in the air. I was thrilled to meet Nancy Campbell, Executive Director of the Wayne Art Center, Karen Louise Fay, Director of Exhibitions and Events, and the juror for the show, Stefano Catalani, Executive Director of Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA, all of whom worked very hard to organize, select, and present this exceptional exhibition in its 22nd year.
Upon entering the exhibit hall, we were stunned with the depth and variety of the work, and the incredible amount of talent, workmanship, and quality seen in each and every piece of art. There was artwork that ranged in size from being held in the palm of your hand, to textiles that covered the wall, to furniture that had loomed large on the floor... 101 works from around the world.
We slowly made our way around the exhibit, meeting other artists and supporters of the arts. It was so exciting to hear the backgrounds of others, and how they came to be involved in this exhibit. There were audible "oohs" and "aahs" as people took in the scope of the exhibit, which was great fun to hear and see.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to hear of the many layers of process involved in the work of other artists, and the history of making that spanned years of their lives before getting there. My respect for their work deepened as I listened to their stories, and I was in awe of the variety of techniques represented by the work.
I felt appreciation for the determination in getting there, and pondered how artists were represented from all corners of the world, yet united by their love of creating. We left that night feeling enlightened by the experience, and so fortunate to be able to be part of the experience.
Saturday I returned for the Juror’s talk by Stefano Catalani, followed by the artist presentations about their individual pieces. I was on the edge of my seat (as I stood), ears open wide, taking in their words and learning more about what went into their work. I was able to speak about mine, as well, and was grateful for the opportunity to share in such a receptive group, which filled the entire exhibit hall.
After this deepened understanding, I was able to attend the juror’s talk by Curator and Program Director of Craft and Material Studies at the University of the Arts, Mi-Kyoung Lee, and the artist panel for the accompanying textile and fiber exhibit, Making Marks, in the other exhibit hall. It was wonderful to be able to hear more extensive sharing by both the juror and the artists, as it was a much smaller, yet no less profound, exhibit.
I was so happy to make connections with these artists, as well, and felt such joy at being in the company of others who perhaps look at life from a different perspective and choose to put it into form through their art. I would have loved to have met all of the artists, and to have been able to have shown each person's art, but there were over 120 pieces between both exhibits. I hope the caliber of the work and the diversity of artists is at least represented here...
And to complete the weekend, we attended a lovely brunch at the home of Franz Rabauer, Craft Forms 2016 Chair, and his partner and benefactor and patron of Wayne Art Center, Brian Daggett. They opened their spacious home with overflowing generosity and hospitality, and shared not only scrumptious food, but the most amazing tour of their collection of contemporary fine craft, covering the entire space of their beautiful home and grounds. It was much like being in a fine museum, only having personal tour guides that knew much about each artist, felt bonded with the art, and had stories of how they each were acquired. They engaged in much discussion with our children, which was so positive for them, as well as us. It was fascinating, and in combination with meeting those who attended, who were very deeply involved in the arts world on a global scale, I was a bit beyond words. My family took it in as a broadening experience, and enjoyed the art immensely. Artists from all over the world comprised their collections, and it was such a privilege to see them nestled into their contemporary home and nature-filled grounds.
We left feeling quite happy to have been part of this experience, and beyond grateful for being included in Craft Forms 2016 for this year. I will return home with much to think about, and my wheels are already turning about work that will come to be. My deepest gratitude for my family, and for all who were encouraging and supportive in making this all possible.