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Family

This episode explores the creative environments and personal dynamics of four families of craft artists and looks at the age-old debate of nature versus nurture.

Is talent inherited? What is it like to live in a household where objects are made by hand?

Georgia based wood turners, Matt and Philip Moulthrop, Mark Markley photograph

President Jimmy Carter shares his admiration for Ed Moulthrop, a fellow Georgian who was known as “the father of modern woodturning.” Ed was an architect who found a passion for creating beautiful large-scale turned wood objects. He single handedly raised national awareness of woodturning as an art while inventing tools used by woodcrafters for generations to come. His works can be found in the personal collections of Ted Turner, Jack Nicklaus, Nelson Mandela (a gift from Hillary Clinton), Paul Simon and Steven Spielberg. Philip Moulthrop followed a career path similar to his father’s. After a tour in Vietnam, he trained as a lawyer, but found greater satisfaction in making uniquely patterned wood bowls. Matt Moulthrop apprenticed with his father and grandfather and continues the family tradition, using modern techniques to bring out the innate beauty of the wood, believing that “each tree has a story to tell.”

Seattle glass artist, Dante Marioni, blowing glass with Preston Singletary, Mark Markley photograph

Paul Marioni creates sculptural and kinetic glass forms that explore concepts of human nature and challenge the physical limitations of the medium. Paul was an early member of the Studio Glass Movement in San Francisco, and as a single father, moved to Seattle, center of American glass, where his gifted son, Dante Marioni studied and continues to make internationally recognized work. Dante’s Venetian-inspired style is almost diametrically opposed to his father’s. His sister Marina Marioni is also a craft artist, creating jewelry that often plays with form and meaning, much like her father’s sculptures often play with visual puns.

Paul Marioni, The Visitor, 1984, Courtesy of the artist

Cliff Lee, Lotus with Flower

Tradition and invention are the center of the Lee household in rural Pennsylvania, where ceramicist Cliff Lee and metal artist Holly Lee live and work together in their 18th century Dutch farmhouse. Once a successful neurosurgeon, Cliff now creates intricate porcelain vessels, combining traditional Chinese techniques with his own innovative methods. Through scientific research and experimentation, he rediscovered glaze recipes that date back hundreds of years. Holly has an abiding respect for nature, as evidenced in her jewelry. She often drills or pierces the metal to create a sense of light passing through space. The Lees have two sons who grew up playing in their parents’ studios, learning the hard work it takes to succeed as a self-employed artist.

Lisa Sorrell, I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart

Oklahoma’s Lisa Sorrell is one of a very few women who design and sew custom cowboy boots today. Following her passion and defying parental expectations, she established her place in a male-dominated field. Inspired by the rich history of the American West, she creates vibrantly colored and exquisitely crafted boots that are true works of leather art. Lisa’s two teenage daughters have decided to follow in their mother’s footsteps and are each becoming artists in their own right.

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Learn More

Watch a 30 second preview of the FAMILY episode.
Bootmaker Lisa Sorrell creates vamps
Bootmaker Lisa Sorrell talks about lasts
Third generation woodturner Matt Moulthrop chooses his profession.
Woodturners Philip and Matt Moulthrop talk about the tools and methods that Ed developed.
Meet three generations of the Moulthrop family of woodturners.
President Jimmy Carter introduces us to the Moulthrop family of Georgia woodturners.
Bootmaker Lisa Sorrell talks about finding herself through the bootmaking.

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ARTISTS

Learn more about the artists in the FAMILY episode HERE >

EDUCATION

Craft In America Educational Materials look further at FAMILY as a concept in craft. Visit the EDUCATION section to see what's available and download a Lesson Guide HERE >