In February 2012 I headed off to Baltimore, USA, for a Craft Scotland research trip.
My main port of call while there was the American Craft Council’s (ACC) Show, which is held in Baltimore on an annual basis.
The ACCs show in Baltimore has taken place every year since 1976 and now has in excess of 700 makers taking part. The Baltimore show is the ACCs flagship show and the longest running of their four shows.
This show has both a trade and a retail element with the first two days of the show being trade only and the following three days open to the public. The show is a plethora of talented makers and the largest show that I have seen of its kind.
The first day of the show, I enjoyed an escorted tour with Chris Amundsen, Executive Director of the ACC. As Chris knows so many of the makers taking part it was a great opportunity to be introduced to some of them, find out a bit more about them, their inspirations and their work. It was also great to get an insight into the show from both Chris’ point of view as well as the makers.
During the show I met a number of first time exhibitors. Rachel Atherley, a jeweller from Kingston, NY was explaining that in order to fully prepare for the show she created her booth in her loft space at home. After several rearrangements and adjustments, she felt happy with the layout and took photographs so that she could recall how she had everything set out. Once she arrived at the show it was just then a case of recreating the scene. Her preparations and attention to detail were evident given how her stand was presented.
Yoshi Fujii was another first time exhibitor who I chatted to at the show. Yoshi creates Porcelain tablewear marrying eastern and western aesthetics. He carves designs onto the surface of the vessels which are inspired amongst other things by Art Nouveau, traditional woodcut prints, textiles, wrapping papers and tattoos. He then finishes the vessels with translucent glazes, such as celadon. Yoshi is also a resident artist, instructor, and the Gallery Manager at the Baltimore Clayworks.
I also managed to catch up with some of the makers Craft Scotland had met at Philadelphia in November last year, including Ashley Murphy. Ashley has been working in wood since the age of 15 so has countless years of experience. Ashley was at the show with his dad and his uncle John who are often the ones who go out in search of the perfect piece of wood. Some of their more recent finds include a number of old telephone poles which Ashley has turned into sculptural pieces of art. Part of the wood is left as it would have been with the other part being turned, allowing you to see what the wood was once like and what it can turned into - no pun intended!
My trip to the ACCs show in Baltimore was a great insight into the show and a great opportunity to meet many of the makers taking part. It was also an opportunity for me to engage with the makers at the show and to find out what the inspiration and narrative was behind their work.
There was a huge range of work on sale from huge 10ft sculptural pieces to small intricate pieces of jewellery. The thing that I enjoyed the most though was seeing and speaking to the range of artists from emerging through to established that are both supported and championed by the show. If you’ve not been to the show before, or even if you have, I would highly recommend a visit.
Next week I’ll blog about my trip to the Baltimore Clayworks Studio, where I took part in midnight kiln building.
Jo Scott, Craft Scotland
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