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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Craft In America on the Upper East Side

Photo credit: Carol Sauvion, Executive Producer of the Craft in America

Craft in America is PBS’s Emmy Award nominated and Peabody Award winning show. They are currently criss-crossing the country shooting two new episodes, and guess where they stopped by? That’s right. Their camera crews were here in our studios documenting the work of our students and teachers:

Episode V, “Process,” looks at what inspires a person to choose a career in craft and shows how they go about acquiring the knowledge and necessary skills. Artists and institutions featured include New York City’s 92nd Street Y, Professor Cary Esser, of the Kansas City Art Institute, and Nikki Lewis, a recent graduate of her ceramics program, Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, the director of Boston’s North Bennet Street School which has been training people for employment in the crafts since 1885, book artists Julie Chen and Tom Killion, and jewelers David and Roberta Williamson of Berea, Ohio. The episode also looks at some of best and most interesting artists who turned to craft later in life as a second career.

The episodes will be airing this fall. Beverly Sanders of American Craft Magazine tagged along for the shooting, and wrote an extensive and engaging piece from her viewpoint as observer of the observing, offering a sort of behind the back look at behind the scenes. Talk about the inside scoop! She wrote:

What inspires a person to choose a career in craft and how does he or she go about acquiring the knowledge and necessary skills? And how does a serious documentarian capture the process on film? I was happily privy to the process by hanging out for a day with Carol Sauvion, the amiable producer of the Emmy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning PBS series Craft in America, which premiered in 2007, when she and her crew came to New York City the weekend of March 6, to film a segment of the next installment at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.

...As I watched the film crew shoot a jewelry workshop of six people conducted by Paul Kim, and later a stone-setting workshop with Klaus Bürgel, Seeger explained what he is striving to achieve in the film. “Get as much detail as possible in the process of going from learning to the career stage.” The object, he said, “ is to get next to people and suggest what they are thinking. Most people are voyeurs. This [film] gives people the sense that they too can dream. It presents an image of the creative spirit.” The film is not meant to be a “museum piece” showing off fine work, Seeger continues, but of course they will show finished work at the end—“a payoff.”

And how’s this for the inside scoop...We bet you never knew about the “[SUNY] New Paltz mafia” in the metalsmithing world, but that secret is out now thanks to Beverly’s article.

In the meantime, if you crave even more Inside The Crafting Studio videos, we’ve been down there with our video camera as well. And though we haven’t won any Emmy Awards, (yet) the videos offer a nice behind the scenes look at what is going on. In this video, we stopped by a ceramics class and talk with an instructor. And here we show you a little bit of what happens in a jewelry class. You can check out all of the arts classes we offer here.

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