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Craft in America


DEMOCRACY: Explores how craft is intertwined with our nation’s defining principles.

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Carla Hemlock

Carla Hemlock is a textile and mixed media artist who lives and works in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. She was on the advisory board for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the 2019/2020 Hearts of our People: Native Women Artists exhibition.


Stephen Burks, DEMOCRACY episode. Courtesy of Berea College

Stephen Burks is a designer, educator, and traveler based in Brooklyn, New York. Burks believes in a pluralistic vision of design that is inclusive of all cultural perspectives. Man Made – his design practice – bridges the gap between authentic developing world production, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design. His projects often embrace hand production as a strategy for innovation. He works independently, with artists and non-profits worldwide, and is frequently commissioned to develop collections for design-driven brands. In addition to his work with Berea College, Burks works with Harvard University as a Design Critic in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Engineering program and as an Expert-In-Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab.


Berea College, DEMOCRACY episode. Courtesy of Berea College

Berea Collegeis a private liberal arts work college in Berea, Kentucky. Founded in 1855, Berea College is recognized for its no-tuition promise, providing free education to every student. The College has been a leader in the Appalachian Crafts movement since the 1890s, when it established the Berea Student Craft Program. Beginning with Weaving in 1893, the school has since added Woodcraft in 1895, and Broomcraft and Ceramics in 1920. The Student Craft Program is a part of Berea’s broader Labor Program, which requires every student to contribute to the operations of the school through a number of job opportunities, including craft. Over 100 students work in the Student Craft Program, and their work is available for sale in person and online through the Berea College Visitor Center and Shoppe.


Eudorah Moore

Eudorah Moore (b. 1918, d. 2013) was a curator and champion of California craft and design. In 1957, she became Board president of Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art) and was later appointed Curator of Design in 1962. During her tenure at the Museum, she helped to highlight handcrafted arts and California design, blurring the distinction between art and craft. Moore transformed the Museum’s California Design exhibition series from an annual presentation of contemporary furniture to an encompassing triennial, showcasing the diversity and artistry of California craft. Moore curated three iterations of California Design for the Museum, and then two additional shows after leaving the institution. Shortly before her departure, Moore curated the seminal show Islands in the Land, exhibiting works by craftsmen from the Southern Appalachians and the Valley of the Rio Grande in New Mexico.


Veterans History Project. DEMOCRACY episode

Part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project is an archive of interviews, photographs, memoirs, illustrations, and other historic documents that gives voice to the personal experiences of US war veterans. Housed in the Library of Congress, this vast collection provides firsthand accounts of the realities of war and hopes to deepen the understanding of our shared history in service and in times of conflict, making them accessible to the public and preserving them for future generations.


Harvey Pratt. DEMOCRACY episode. Denise Kang photo.

Harvey Phillip Pratt is an accomplished Native American master artist and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. He began his career as a forensic artist, and for over 50 years has worked with law enforcement to complete thousands of witness description drawings and hundreds of soft tissue reconstructions. His art practice is multi-disciplinary, including painting, sculpture, wood carving, mural painting, bronze, architectural design, and graphic design. His work is a blend of his unique experience in forensic art and law enforcement with Native American cultural themes. Pratt’s Warrior’s Circle of Honor was selected as the winning design for the forthcoming National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.


National Museum of the American Indian, Democracy episode.  Thomson200 photo.

NMAI is a Smithsonian Institution museum dedicated to “advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present, and future—through partnership with Native people and others.” The museum’s vast collection – which contains Native artifacts, photographs, archives, and media – along with its diverse programming, serves to exemplify and highlight the rich diversity of Native people and Native culture in the contexts of both American history and contemporary American life.



NMAAHC is a Smithsonian Institution museum. NMAAHC has collected more than 36,00 objects and numerous interactive exhibits covering the arts, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, athletics, music, and much more. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director states, “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.”


Robert L Lynch, Americans for the Arts, Democracy episode

Robert L. Lynch is the president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, an organization that seeks to make connections between individuals, leaders, organizations, communities, and businesses in order to advance and cultivate the arts in America. Lynch is commited “to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts.”


Calligrapher Sammy Little. Democracy episode

Sammy Little is a calligrapher with over 30 years of professional experience. She has applied her skillful hand to projects for the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the US Supreme Court and presidential inaugural luncheons. Her work exemplifies the importance of cursive handwriting in our nation’s democratic traditions and as a record of our history.


Matthew Krousey
Matthew Krousey

Matthew Krousey is a ceramic artist from Northern Minnesota who makes functional pottery, sculpture, and murals decorated with the vanishing flora, fauna, and rural landscape of his home state. He attended the University of Minnesota on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 2008. Krousey’s functional, soda-fired stoneware pottery is often intended to comment on the battle to protect the natural environment.


The Renwick Gallery is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art, one of the finest and most extensive collections of its kind. The Renwick exhibits the most exciting works by artists exploring traditional and innovative approaches to making, emphasizing craft as an approach to living differently in the modern world. Collections, special exhibitions, and scholarship highlight how extraordinary handmade objects have shaped the American experience and continue to impact our lives. Hearts of our People: Native Women Artists was exhibited at the Renwick Gallery.


Gere Kavanaugh (b. 1929) grew up in Memphis, TN. After earning a BFA from Memphis College of Art, Kavanaugh went on to pursue an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. After Cranbrook, she was hired at General Motors working in their styling studio designing displays and creating model kitchens. Kavanaugh was part of GM’s “Damsels of Design” the first group of women to work as professional designers in a U.S. corporation.

After moving from Detroit to Los Angeles in the 1960s, Kavanaugh worked as a freelance designer and shared studio space with Frank Gehry, Greg Walsh Deborah Sussman and Don Chadwick. Kavanaugh has designed ceramics, light fixtures, homes, store interiors, textiles and furniture.



Judas Recendez is a ceramic artist and a U.S. Army Veteran of the Iraq War, who participated in 2 tours of combat before an IED explosion caused him to lose both legs in 2006. During recuperation he honed his ceramic practice at the Walter Reed Art Center, the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (Washington, DC) and is now in his new home/studio which was built by Homes for Our Troops in 2011. His custom home is designed to accommodate his special needs and his pottery wheel is adapted with a hand pump. His wife, Kristine states that through his art he has found a voice – “He’s served, he’s sacrificed, he’s healed through pottery.”


Ehren Tool is a ceramic artist and Senior Laboratory Mechanician at the Ceramic Department at University of California, Berkeley, and Marine Veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. Tool says of his own work, “The images on the cups are often graphic and hard to look at. You may be for or against a particular war but I think it is too easy for us to look away. I think we as a country and as humans should look at what is actually going on. … I would like my work to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world. That is a lot to ask of a cup…"