Ever since I was in art school (1998-2002), at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, I have loved attending this show. The Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center every year. And this 2021 exhibition showcased 170 artists from all over the world. Every year that I attend this show, I leave with newfound inspiration. And lots of new amazing artists to follow on Instagram!
THIS CRAFT SHOW GIVES CRAFT ARTISTS THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE
One of the things I love most about the PMA Craft Show, is the fact that it draws attention to an undervalued form of creativity. Crafts have historically never been taken seriously in the art world. There is fine art, and then there is everything else. Craft art is often seen as more of a hobby. And rarely something anyone could actually pursue seriously or make a living off of. By the way, one of the pieces at the show was selling for $25,000, and sold!
If you ever have the chance to visit a craft show in your area, please consider attending! Crafters do some of the finest, most intricate work I have ever seen. And of course, I’m not discounting other kinds of art. I’m an artist myself, and consider all forms of beauty-making incredibly valuable! But there is something about crafters that blows me away. And I think it has to do with the their attention to detail.
A CRAFT ARTIST’S ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Crafters are very process-oriented. Meaning, their work is generated from some kind of formula that works for the particular medium they are using. They stay within their realm of specific technique. Which at first, seems like it might be limiting. But actually, this allows for an immense amount of concentrated focus. Also, their work often requires a tremendous amount of patience. And their process typically involves lots of repetitive techniques. Craft work has a meditative quality to it. Therefore, it’s much less about emotionally explosive expression. And much more about that moment of zen, achieved from perfecting something through repetition.
Honestly, craft art reminds me a bit of Tibetan Buddhist sand painting…
MY AUNT SANDY’S TREASURED CRAFT WORK
My aunt, Sandy Saylor Seaman, is a creative person, like many people in my family. And for years, she has been making the world a bit more beautiful through her craft work. At one time she took up weaving, and I still remember her massive loom that took up half of her living room! She made beautiful textiles on that loom. Years later, she discovered a passion lampwork bead making. Lampwork beads are handmade by blowing and shaping molten glass over and through a torch, using tools and hand movements to form amazing and intricate designs. She has also made consistently beautiful Zentangle drawings. And most recently, she has ventured further away from crafts and has taken up painting.
Here is a just a sampling of some of her beautiful craft work over the years.
SOME OF MY CRAFT SHOW FAVORITES
This craft show featured SO many amazing and talented artisans. However, I do have my likes and dislikes. Some objects I was much more interested in than others. But honestly, there is a bit of something for everyone! You can also interact with the artists if you want to. And ask them questions about their work and their process. Or anything else that you’re curious about. I am usually pretty shy speaking to other artists, actually. But there was one artist, Melissa Paré, that I worked up the nerve to speak to. I shuffled by her, reaching for one of her business cards, and muttered something like, “Your work is so beautiful, I love it.” And then quickly exited her booth!
This artist, by the way, was the 2020 Winner of the Louise K. Binswanger Prize for Best New Artist to the Show! A thumbnail of her work is shown below.
These images do NOT do these works of art any justice. But just to give you an idea, and to hopefully entice your eyes a bit, I have included my favorites from the show below. If possible, viewing these on a desktop computer is much better. And you can also click on the links to the individual artists below in the caption, if you are interested in learning more about any of them.
Artists, top row, from left to right: Baiyang Qiu, Dana Bechert, Dwo Wen Chen. Middle row, from left to right: Jupi Das, Lauren Herzak-Bauman, Melissa Paré. Bottom row: Philip Roberts (I purchased this piece!).
THANK YOU FOR READING!
So, what do you think? Isn’t this work so beautiful? Are you a crafter of any kind (knitting, for example)? I’m not, but I still love this! Are you inspired by this kind of work? And have you ever been to a craft show. Please let me know in the comments!
Me enjoying a pretzel dog (a soft pretzel wrapped around a hot dog!) after the show. Delicious!! xo
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Featured photo of artwork by Nancy Kubale obtained HERE
Mandala Sand Painting image obtained HERE