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Oral history interview with Marianne Strengell, 1982 January 8-December 16

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 86 pages.

An interview of Marianne Strengell conducted 1982 January 8-1982 December 16, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.

Strengell speaks of colleagues and students at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, including Eliel and Loja Saarinen, Charles Eames, Florence Knoll, and Harry Bertoia. She also speaks of her training in hand weaving in Helsinki; her interest in texture and new materials; the rejection of vogue in Scandinavia in the 1930s for folk art motifs; her close association with the Saarinen family at Cranbrook and in Finland; and her work with industry, 1940s-1970s.

Oral history interview with Gerhardt Knodel, 2004 August 3

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 7 sound files (5 hr., 23 min.) digital, wav

Transcript: 77 pages

An interview of Gerhardt Knodel conducted 2004 August 3, by Glenn Adamson, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Knodel speaks of his German heritage; his parents each immigrating to Los Angeles; growing up in Los Angeles and being part of the German community; his father building houses; the influence of his childhood environment on his artwork; taking art classes in school; participating in theater and set design; studying art at Los Angeles City College; collecting textiles; transferring to UCLA; teaching high school art; the influence of Abstract Expressionism on his early work; quitting teaching and studying fiber arts at University of California, Long Beach; traveling to numerous countries, and their influence on his artwork; researching and lecturing on fabric as environment; how the fiber art movement has evolved and changed; early exhibitions and the need for more venues; the fiber art community in the 1960s and 70s; the importance of University art programs; moving to Michigan and teaching at Cranbrook; the importance of scale and context in his work; making large scale pieces to fit within an architectural space; working on commission for public projects; working with the community in Pontiac, Michigan on a commissioned piece; the influence of the history of textiles; being director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art; putting figures on to textiles; the decline of the fiber art movement; and the benefits of schools such as Cranbrook. Knodel also recalls Bernard Kester, Mary Jane Leland, Laura Andreson, Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Neda Al-Hilali, Lenore Tawney, Claire Zeisler, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jack Lenor Larsen, Christo, Kiki Smith, and others.

Oral history interview with James Bassler, 2002 February 11-June 6

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 125 pages.

An interview of James Bassler conducted 2002 February 11-June 6, by Sharon K. Emanuelli, for the Archives of American Art, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.

Bassler speaks of his early childhood; traveling with his father, a major league baseball catcher; his early interest in fiber through his father's hooked rugs, which he worked on during the off season; his early education; his sister Sally and a course she took from Laura Andreson where they dug for clay at UCLA; working at Douglas Aircraft; drafted into the Army; his travels through Europe while in the Army; his wife Veralee Osborn Bassler; his education at UCLA with professors such as Bernard Kester, Laura Andreson, Cornelia Breitenbach, and fellow student Neda Al Hilali; teaching at Emerson Junior High School; the Egg and Eye Gallery; his siblings, Barbara Bassler Johnson, Sally Bassler Chest, and John Bassler. Bassler also discusses living in Oaxaca from 1970-1975; returning to the U.S. and then moving to Tennessee to teach at Appalachian Center for Crafts; the camaraderie at the Craft Center; his experience with commissions; the impact of the music of John Cage; his teaching techniques; artistic process; political issues that influenced his artwork, such as the Exxon Valdez Oil spill [Shroud] or the Persian Gulf War [Soiled]; his relationships with dealers and galleries, Barbara Okun, Christa Thurman, and currently the Gail Martin Gallery in New York; the spontaneity of Willem de Kooning's artwork and a recent exhibit "Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure" at the Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Los Angeles, February 10-April 28, 2002; the Peruvian influence upon his work and experiments with dyeing and batik; a piece he was working on for Jack Lenor Larsen's 75th birthday; exhibitions to which he loaned pieces of his collection; significant books he has read and uses in his classes, such as James Burkes' "Connections," and Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel"; the "Art in Embassy" Program and his exhibit in Poland; the benefits of a university education; the Ann Blinks Research Group; his enjoyment of the weaving process; lack of signatures on his artwork; new technology; visiting the "Andy Warhol Retrospective," MOCA, May 25 - August 18, 2002 and solving his artistic block there; the difficulty in being a perfectionist; important artist friendships with Olga de Amaral, Ruth Asawa, Trude Guermonprez, Dominic Di Mare, and Lenore Tawney; and finally his reactions to Craft in America, a symposium which Emanuelli coordinated the agenda for. Bassler also recalls Ina Conradi-Chavez, Edward Durell Stone, Carol Shaw-Sutton, Roger Herman; Larry Pittman; Judy Mitoma; Victoria Vesna; Robert Brady, Phil Fike, Susan Petersen, Eudora Moore, Edith Wyle, Patricia Anawalt, Ed Rossbach, Mildred Constantine, Mary Kahlenberg, Martin Puryear, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mary Dusenbury, Robert Rauschenberg, Wayne Thiebaud, Adrian Saxe, Kaye Spilker, and others.

Oral history interview with Carol Eckert, 2007 June 18-19

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 48 pages

An interview of Carol Eckert conducted June 18-19, 2007 by Jo Lauria, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in the artist's home and studio in Tempe, Arizona.

Eckert speaks of moving from North Carolina to New York during her childhood; her interest in making things as a child; her love of reading and a particular interest in mythology, legends, and fairy tales; choosing to pursue painting as an art major at Arizona State University; working as a substitute teacher after graduation; teaching herself the needle arts; and teaching painting and drawing classes at a local community arts center.

She also discusses experimenting with clay; the process that guides her work; the influence of her painting training on her color and composition choices; her marriage to furniture maker Tom Eckert; the development of the basketry field over the past decades; participating in exhibitions and shows; teaching workshops at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; the cross-cultural animal symbolism present in her pieces; the working environment in her studio; the importance of craft publications; the development in her own work towards larger pieces; her commitment to the longevity and preservation of her work; and upcoming exhibitions.

Eckert recalls Steven Covey, Barbara Rose Okun, Jane Sauer, Sandy Blaine, Lillian Elliot, Joanne Segal Branford, John Garrett, John McQueen, Leon Niehues, Norma Minkowitz, Sarah and David Lieberman, Janet Koplos, Marcia Docter, Doug and Dale Anderson, Karen Johnson Boyd, Rudy Turk, Marcia Manhart, Joanne Rapp, and others.

Man's Kilt, "Hoka"

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
A PLAITED BELT, OR KILT OF ROUGHLY SCUTCHED FLAX ABOUT 6 CM. WIDE WITH WOVEN BACKING. THE BODY OF THE KILT HAS TEN WEFT ROWS WHICH ARE SINGLE-PAIR TWINE. THE WAIST IS COMPOSED OF THICK THREE PLY BRAID. THE WEFT ROW WIDTH IS 2.5 TO 3 CM. SCRAPED TAGS ARE USED AS WARPS OF A LIGHT BROWN COLOR, WITH FREE WARP ENDS TO FORM TASSELS. A FEW TAGS ARE TIED INTO SINGLE-PAIR TWINE WEFT. PREPARED AND MOUNTED FOR EXHIBITION IN "MAGNIFICENT VOYAGERS," BUT NEVER USED.

FROM CARD: "THOUGH ONCE CALLED A FEMALE CINCTURE, THIS IS ACTUALLY A MAN'S HOKA BELT-S.H. RIESENBERG. INVENTORIED 1975."

Maori fiber artist Arapeta Ashton identifies the primary material this object is made of as probably the climbing plant kiekie (Freycinetia banksii). He also suggests that the darker fiber adornments toward the top of the garment were dyed with mud.

Sheva Ausubel

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 21 x 26 cm. Identification on verso (handwritten and stamped): Federal Art Project W.P.A., Photographic Division, 13 East 37th Street, New York City.
Dept of Inform. Location: Sheva Ausabal [sic] Weaving Tapestry 114 iv. 14 sv; Date: 3/30/37; Negative No.: 2167-1, 265-6900-873; Photographer Horn
Identification on accompanying label (typewritten): Sheva Ausubel weaving a tapistry [sic] from her own design for the mural division of the WPA Federal Art Project.

Catalogue of an Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture by American Negro Artists at the National Gallery of Art

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
A catalog accompanying an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by American Negro artists. This was a traveling exhibit of artists who won a juried competition sponsored by the Harmon Foundation. The exhibition was held in the Arts and Industries Building.

Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman, 2008 January 22-February 23

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 12 sound files (5 hr., 29 min.)

Transcript: 86 pages

Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman conducted 2008 January 22 and February 23 by Josephine Shea, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America at Kaufman's home in Athens, Georgia.

Kaufman speaks of his childhood in Chicago; earning his B.A. in education in Wisconsin and meeting his wife; joining the ROTC and moving to Ohio; attending Cranbrook Academy of Art; living and studying in Denmark; traveling through Western Europe; working at the Liebes Studio in New York; teaching at Cranbrook for about 40 years; working in Japan; using metal leaf and wax in his art; moving from large to miniature textiles; his glove exhibition; visiting India; gallery exhibitions in Japan; the difference between university-trained artists and artisans; the impact of travel and international influences on his work; the art community in Kyoto; using Japanese dancers in his exhibitions; incorporating traditional Korean and Japanese materials and techniques into his work. Kaufman also recalls Charlene Page, Bill Thompson, Maija Grotell, Marianne Strengell, Dorothy Liebes, Jack Lenor Larsen, Meda Parker Johnston, Earl McCutchen, Ed Lambert, Mildred Constantine, Louise Allrich, Ed Rossbach, Camille Cook, and others.

Sheva Ausubel

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 21 x 26 cm. Identification on verso (typewritten and stamped): Federal Art Project W.P.A., Photographic Division, 235 East 42nd Street, New York City.
Miss Ausobel [sic] at loom and Tapestries produced by her; Date: 7/19/38; Negative No.: 3163-6; Photographer:Pollard
Identification on accompanying label (typewritten): Sheva Ausubel,[sic] WPA Artist, at the loom on which she wove a tapestry scene

Fibers and Civilization (1959)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Oral history interview with Gyöngy Laky, 2007 December 11-12

Archives of American Art
Sound recordings: 11 sound files (4 hr., 8 min.) digital, wav

Transcript: 66 pages

An interview of Gyöngy Laky conducted 2007 December 11-12, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Laky's home and studio, in San Francisco, California.

Laky speaks of her recent exhibitions; leaving Hungary as a child; using words in art; learning languages; family influences in her art; the family art gallery and Chinese painting; changing majors in college; working with various materials; using recycled materials in her work; retirement; planning her works; working with assistants; working with a small community in Europe; construction of her works; using computers to create art; the craft "renaissance"; scale and outdoor projects; working with dealers and commissioned pieces; emphasis on negative space. Laky also recalls Emile Lahner, Mary Dumas, Ed Rossbach, Judy Foosaner, Peter Voulkos, Joanne Branford, Lillian Elliott, Henry Miller, Louise Nevelson, Darryl Dobras, Brett Christiansen, Kim Ocampo, Jack Lenor Larsen, Martin Puryear, Ann Hamilton, Suzi Gablik, Susan Sontag, and others.

Oral history interview with Nancy Crow, 2002 December 18

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 50 pages

An interview of Nancy Crow conducted 2002 December 18, by Jean Robertson, for the Archives of American Art, at her home and studio, in Baltimore, Ohio, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.

Crow speaks of her early childhood and her father's high standards; her early interest in color; her studies at Ohio State University and her first ceramics professor Edgar Littlefield; joining the textile guild in Athens, Ohio; how her quilting evolved from traditional to contemporary and abstract forms; her practice of working on several quilts simultaneously; the influence of Anna Williams, a quiltmaker in Baton Rouge, Alabama; and she describes her studio. Crow also discusses her association with the Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia; a trip to China that resulted in the series Chinese Souls; and how beauty is her ultimate goal. She talks about her travels to Mexico and South Africa; her technical mastery of strip piecing; working at home while raising two sons; the dyeing process; her sketchbooks; her long-term working relationship with hand quilter, Marla Hattabaugh; teaching at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts; the beginnings of the Quilt National Show at the Dairy Barn; the Ohio Arts Council; the Art Quilt Network; periodicals including FiberArts, Surface Design, Hali, and Raw Vision; two seminal exhibitions in her career, "Nancy Crow: Work in Transition," at the American Craft Museum, 1993, and "Nancy Crow -- Improvisational Quilts," at the Renwick Gallery, 1995; and the changing market for quilts in America. She recalls Bruce Hoffman, Rick and Ruth Snyderman, Jan Myers-Newberry, Rosalie Gascoigne, Sandra Blaine, Vivian Harvey; Linda Fowler, and others.

Man in Costume, Showing Method of Separating Fiber with Wooden Object in Textile Preparation Inside Room 1875 Drawing

National Anthropological Archives
Monogramed by Artist, A. Z. S.

Colored pencil charcoal and Watercolor drawing on paper mount

Oral history interview with Ruth Adler Schnee, 2002 November 24-30

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 159 pages.

An interview of Ruth Adler Schnee conducted 2002 November 24-30, by Anita Schnee, at the artist's home in Southfield, Michigan, for the Archives of American Art as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.

Schnee talks about her early childhood in Germany, living in Nazi Germany and her family's emigration to the U.S. in 1939; her family's beginnings in the U.S. and her education; working in the display department at Winkleman's Department store; her scholarship to Rhode Island School of Design; experiencing New York City at the close of WWII; attending Cranbrook Academy of Art; her friendship with Eliel and Loja Saarinen; meeting and marrying Edward Charles Schnee; their first silk screening studio in Detroit; early designs; a fire that destroyed the first Adler Schnee shop in 1955; the new Adler Schnee store on Livernois; buying trips to Norway, Sweden, and Finland; difficulties and strategies for selling fabric designs; teaching herself the silk-screening process; designing for the airline industry; her love of color; and the labor intensive process of making the perfect design.

Schnee also discusses her sources of inspiration and how they have changed over the years; good design as "problem solving"; participating in tradeshows and finding clients; the shop paper, "The Bugle;" the Detroit Artists Market; significant commissions including Braniff Airlines, Ford Rotunda Auditorium, the Feld-Weisberg Clinic, and the Jewish Home for the Aged; and a research trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, to learn early American design techniques. Schnee comments on her travels to Mexico, Germany, South America, Israel, and in the U.S. She concludes the sessions by reviewing the recording and providing additional information. Schnee recalls Paul Klee, Albert Kahn, Minoru Yamasaki, Maija Grotell, Richard Savage, Al Taubman, Louis Redstone, Hans Knoll, Victor Gruen, Edward Wormley, Edgar Kaufman, Susanne Dotson, Harley Melzian, Selma Fraiberg, Hedie and Helmut Goedeckemeyer, Roberto Lago, and others.

These Letters Written by Famous Artists Reveal the Lost Intimacy of Putting Pen to Paper

Smithsonian Magazine

From time immemorial, handwritten correspondence has ranked among the most intimate and vibrant modes of human communication. To the letter writer, an unfilled folio is an empty receptacle, a vessel waiting to be infused with idle observations, snarky gossip, confessions of love, political speculations, soul-searching reflections, warm thanks, or whatever else might spring to mind.

Through the simple act of populating a page with words, punctuation, and images, the author of a letter, whether aware of it or not, manifests in the world a truly original, idiosyncratic expression of the self—a work of art. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, whose inventory is composed largely of artists’ handwritten messages and other ephemera of their lives.

These missives, which touch on topics as variegated as the personalities of their authors, served as the inspiration for the recently released book, Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters edited by curator of manuscripts Mary Savig.

Aiming to link word-strewn pages with paint-flecked canvas, and sculpted majuscule characters with sculpted metal statuary, Savig also reveals a distinctly human side to the giants of the American art world. One sees how the artistry latent within them permeated even the most seemingly banal facets of their lives.

The book owes its existence to the unmistakable handwriting of minimalist painter Ad Reinhardt, whose flowing, calligraphic phrases seamlessly blend emphatic lines and breezy arcs.

Savig recalls the moment when she and her colleagues, assembled for a staff meeting, realized that “almost everybody could identify Reinhardt’s handwritten words from across the room.” A lightbulb went off, one which would burn for the many months of deep exploration and engagement.

Karen Weiss, the Archives’ head of digital operations, was the first to suggest that adequately exploring the significance of artists’ individuated handwriting would require a concerted research effort. Savig began plumbing the depths of this country’s art community, seeking out students and scholars, curators and historians, professors and practitioners, up-and-comers and old hands alike, to weigh in on the writings of artists in whom they had personal interest.

Image by Archives of American Art. Llyn Foulkes letter to Darthea Speyer, ca. 1975 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art. Llyn Foulkes wrote to Darthea Speyer, who organized two of the artist's exhibitions, c. 1975. (original image)

One of Savig’s goals in crafting Pen to Paper was to remind readers that “art history is an active field, an interdisciplinary field, and there are many different ways of approaching American art.”

Allowing the book’s myriad of contributors leeway in their commentaries on the assembled letters was, from Savig’s perspective, essential: “I wanted to leave it up to them,” she recalls, “so they could show what they know about the subject, rather than trying to ask them to write specifically about something they might not feel as interested in speaking on.”

The results of this endeavor are striking. Every few pages of Pen to Paper, readers are presented with high-quality images of a new artist’s handwritten letters, and are treated to a fresh commenter’s pithy analysis, printed alongside.

These deconstructions range from the technically fastidious to the holistically biographical. 

Draft of condolence letter Joseph Cornell sent to Marcel Duchamp's widow, Teeny, October 8 and 9, 1968 (Archives of American Art)

“The big curvaceous signature ‘Eero’ [Saarinen] resembles the boldly curved shapes in his Ingalls Rink at Yale, TWA terminal at JFK Airport, and Dulles Airport,” wrote architectural historian Jayne Merkel.

And for Leslie Umberger, the Smithsonian's curator of folk and self-taught art, legibility “falls increasingly by the wayside as [Grandma] Moses attempts to negotiate a demanding schedule, a high volume of family news, and a limited amount of space in which to write.”

Many of the letters included in the compendium provide snapshots of especially poignant moments in their writers’ lives, highlighting for readers how a simple handwritten message can, in the words of Savig, “become this vestige of a person and a place.”

Claes Oldenburg's postcard to art historian Ellen H. Johnson, August 17, 1974 (Archives of American Art)

Take, for instance, Lee Krasner’s transatlantic Aerogram to longtime friend and lover Jackson Pollock, whose life would be lost in an auto accident shortly after he received her message. Knowing Pollock was struggling with emotional issues and alcohol, Krasner suffused her tidy letter with humor and cheer, at one point confiding in him that the painting in Paris “is unbelievably bad.” Confined by her medium, Krasner felt moved to end her note with a simple, heartfelt query, wedged in the lower right-hand corner and framed by a pair of outsized parentheses: “How are you Jackson?”

She would never receive a reply.

Visionary artist Howard Finster wrote to a curator about his upcoming exhibition in Washington, D.C. (Archives of American Art)

Similarly moving are the drafts of multimedia artist Joseph Cornell’s 1968 letter of condolence to the widow of his mentor and hero, Marcel Duchamp. Rife with ugly cross-outs and repeated attempts at rewording, the text on the page bespeaks the gravity of Cornell’s loss, the final and perhaps most damaging in a string of devastating deaths. “Receiving the news on Thursday, October 3,” curator Lynda Roscoe Hartigan says, “created a ‘turbulence’ that prevented [Cornell] from leaving his house until the following Wednesday, when he posted the condolence letter.”

Whereas some texts shed light on the tribulations of individual artists navigating their lives, other missives draw the reader’s attention to more wide-ranging, global struggles. For instance, in a 1922 note to an acquaintance at the Carnegie Institute, superstar impressionist Mary Cassatt attempts to come to terms with Edgar Degas’s assertion that “No woman has a right to draw like that,” a gibe elicited by Cassatt’s now instantly recognizable oil, Young Women Picking Fruit.

Unbowed, Cassatt succinctly rebuffed the Frenchman, employing a cursive script described by Williams College curator Nancy Mowll Mathews as “forceful”—the artist’s flagging vision notwithstanding.

Lenore Tawney, a groundbreaking fiber and collage artist, handcrafted a postcard in 1970. (Archives of American Art)

“If [Young Women Picking Fruit] has stood the test of time & is well drawn,” Cassatt wrote, “its place in a Museum might show the present generation that we worked and learnt our profession, which isn’t a bad thing.” To this day, the pioneering American painter remains a role model for aspirant artists all across the globe—female and male alike.

In terms just as personal, African-American artist Jacob Lawrence used the epistolary medium to grapple with the specter of racist hatred in his homeland. Serving in the United States Coast Guard and stationed in St. Augustine, Florida, Lawrence was acutely attuned to the animus of those around him. “In the North,” he wrote in 1944, “one hears much of Democracy and the Four Freedoms, [but] down here you realize that there are a very small percentage of people who try to practice democracy.”

In an incisive interrogation of Lawrence’s handwriting, Boston University art history professor Patricia Hills calls attention to his blossoming capital I’s, which “appear to morph into his initials, JL.” Carving out a personal identity amidst the soul-effacing atmosphere of the Jim Crow era was a mighty challenge for Lawrence and his African-American contemporaries; their resoluteness in the face of incredible adversity is reflected in Lawrence’s confident yet occasionally faltering pen strokes, as well as in his eloquent words.

An exuberant Grant Wood writes in 1930 about how a jury has accepted not one, but two, of his paintings including American Gothic. (Archives of American Art)

Including diverse perspectives such as those of Cassatt and Lawrence was, in the eyes of Savig, vital to the integrity of the Pen to Paper project. If issues of race, gender and sexuality were consequential enough for the profiled artists to wrestle with in their private correspondence, then, according to Savig, it was “important for a lot of the authors to touch on [them] too.”

In many respects, then, Pen to Paper stands as a testimony to the resilience of the artist’s creative spirit in a harsh and stifling world. In places, though, the reader is treated to expressions of unbridled elation—suggestions of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Take the very last letter in the collection, joyously scribbled by American Gothic creator Grant Wood, an unassuming Iowan who in 1930 found himself suddenly and irrevocably thrust into the national spotlight. Upon learning that two of his canvases, theretofore seen by no one outside his home state, would be given wall space at a prestigious Chicago Art Institute exhibition, Wood could scarcely contain his enthusiasm. As Stanford art expert Wanda M. Corn puts it, “Wood is so exuberant he forgoes a salutation. ‘Hurray!’ he exclaims in large red-pencil letters, surrounded by a hand-drawn frame.” Wood’s infectious glee complements perfectly the more somber tone of some of his coevals’ writings, providing a yin to their yang.

In sum, Pen to Paper, presented alphabetically, is an A-Z volume in every sense of the phrase. The book is a vibrant pastiche, an all-inclusive grab bag which reminds us that the artists under discussion are human beings too—“like People magazine!,” Savig gushes. At the end of the day, these great innovators are fundamentally just like us, and we, as equals, may feel free to draw on their examples in our own moments of need.

Oral history interview with Jack Lenor Larsen, 2004 February 6-8

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 78 pages.

An interview of Jack Lenor Larsen conducted 2004 February 6-8, by Arline M. Fisch, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Longhouse, East Hampton, N.Y.

Larsen speaks of his childhood in Seattle, Washington; his parents and other adults who had a positive impact on his development; building things with his friends; attending the University of Washington to study architecture and deciding to study textiles instead; visiting Dorothy Liebes's textile studio; leaving school and moving to Los Angeles; attending the University of Southern California and eventually returning to the University of Washington; becoming a teaching assistant to Ed Rossbach; getting a Masters degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art; meeting many influential people in San Francisco and New York; moving to New York and setting up a studio; working on commission for several companies including Thaibok; expanding his offices to include larger looms and a showroom; setting up a branch of production in Haiti; working in the fashion industry and designing home decor; and working in Southeast Asia developing handcrafted woven exports. He also speaks of his involvement with the American Craft Council and the World Crafts Council, re-organizing and building the new campus at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; traveling to Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and his desire to travel more; working and exhibiting in Japan; experiencing the Japanese textile industry; writing numerous books on fiber arts including, "The Dyer's Art," often collaborating with other fiber artists; developing a classification system for interlacing; collecting art; gardening and its relation to art and design; building Round House and the inspiration behind it; building LongHouse using the Japanese Ise Shrine as a model and plans for further expansion; retiring and difficulties writing, "A Weaver's Memoir." Larsen also recalls Dorothy Liebes, Marianne Strengell, Florence Knoll, Edgar Kaufman, Ed Rossbach, Toshiko Takaezu, Francis Merritt, Mary Bishop, Garth Clark, Issey Miyake, Mildred Constantine, and others.

Oral history interview with Ron Kent, 2010 April 20-22

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 99 pages.

An interview of Ron Kent conducted 2010 April 20 and 22, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Kent's home and studio in Kailua, Hawaii.

Kent discusses his first entry into Easter show (at Honolulu Academy of Arts) in late 1960s/early 1970s; the challenge of figuring of making objects; the notion of limitations as an important factor in his work; growing up in Los Angeles of the 1930s; an ethic of frugality and a father who could make and repair things around the house; his first career as an engineer; influential books, including works by Ayn Rand and Franz Kafka; a new career as a stockbroker in San Diego in the early 1960s; making a small kayak; his willingness to push boundaries and the need for a certain amount of anxiety in his creative process; discovery of Norfolk/Cook pine as main medium; his wife Myra's gift of his first lathe in the early 1970s; influential shapes and vessels, including the ovoid shape and long-necked bottles; the need for "heft" in his pieces; the advantages and disadvantages of being a self-taught artist; early exhibitions of bottles, and first purchase by del Mano Gallery, Los Angeles; the notion of "dialog" with wood; the creative perils of too much technical and technological facility; his first trip to New York City; the emergence of translucence in his work, and oil-sandpaper techniques; the evolution of the pedestal foot; the series Guardian, from the mid-2000s; marketing efforts and gallery recognition, including one-man show at Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York, NY; the imposter syndrome; acquisition of a piece by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York in the 1980s; acquisition of work by Jonathan Fairbanks at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; his dishwashing liquid formula for treating wood; experimentation with wave forms, including a bench for the for 20th anniversary of the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu; early artistic pioneers and influences, including James Prestini, Rude Osolnik, and Palmer Sharpless; the notion of value in art and in life; the importance of breakage, and the series Post-Nuclear of stitched vessels; collaboration with fiber artist Pat Hickman in the 1990s; retirement from stockbroker job in 1997 to become a woodturner full time and negative effect on artistic productivity; initial commissions, and the decision not to accept more of them; brief series Calabash; the happenstance nature of using wood as a medium; the importance of American woodturning for the international recognition of the movement; work he finds interesting, including that of Ron Gerton and Michael Bauermeister; a philosophy of continually trying new approaches or inventing unconventional approaches. He recalls David Ellsworth, Dale Nish, John Perreault, Hap Sakw, Albert LeCoff, Vladimir Ossipoff, Bob Stocksdale, and Jerry Glaser.

Artist Lecture with Trevor Paglen

Smithsonian American Art Museum
In this artist talk, Trevor Paglen presents a series of projects exploring planet-scale sensing systems. From fiber optic cables under the earth’s oceans and reconnaissance satellites in earth’s orbit, to the autonomous vision systems and artificial intelligence networks that have come to inhabit the most intimate parts of our lives, Paglen’s projects offer a glimpse into some of the unseen landscapes that characterize our historical moment.

Artist Lecture with Trevor Paglen

Smithsonian American Art Museum
In this artist talk, Trevor Paglen presents a series of projects exploring planet-scale sensing systems. From fiber optic cables under the earth’s oceans and reconnaissance satellites in earth’s orbit, to the autonomous vision systems and artificial intelligence networks that have come to inhabit the most intimate parts of our lives, Paglen’s projects offer a glimpse into some of the unseen landscapes that characterize our historical moment.

Oral history interview with Joyce Marquess Carey, 2002 June 16

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 76 pages

An interview of Joyce Marquess Carey conducted 2002 June 16, by Glenn Adamson, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Carey's home, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Carey speaks of growing up in Redding, California; her widowed mother working to support Carey and herself; her "lonesome" childhood and her eagerness to leave Redding to attend the University of California at Berkeley; majoring in English; meeting her husband Harlan (Mark) Marquess in her senior year at Berkeley and marrying him; dropping out of college; regretting her marriage; her life as a housewife and mother in the late 1950s and 1960s; moving to Madison, Wisconsin, for her husband's job as a Russian teacher; taking weaving classes with Larry Edman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and meeting fiber artist Claire Zeisler on a field trip to Chicago. Carey discusses experimentation in her work and "stretching the limits of the technique" in Edman's class; receiving her undergraduate degree in textile arts in 1971; working with a computer-driven Dobby Loom; studying with Ruth Gao and Jim Peters at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for her MFA in the early 1970s; teaching weaving at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a focus on technical and design skills; writing articles on the technical aspects of fiber art for "Fiber Arts," "Weaver's Journal," "Shuttle, Spindle, & Dye Pot," and other periodicals; exhibiting with the Wisconsin Designer Craftsmen in the 1970s; participating in the Quilt National Show in 1979; receiving a five-year development grant from the University of Wisconsin and quitting her teaching job; using "systematic" weaving methods in quilting; her involvement with galleries such as the Connell/Great American Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia; working with art consultants; the difference between private and corporate commissions; her use of bright colors and various fabrics; her use of tools and technology including an industrial sewing machine and computer programs such as Photoshop; her second marriage to Phil Carey in 1980 after her divorce to Marquess in the mid-1970s; and the "ephemeral" qualities in art. She considers herself a "collager," assembling fabrics and "embellishments." She also discusses her involvement with the Studio Art Quilt Associates and in the Art Quilt Network; and her piece, "Blue Ribbon," in the collection of the American Craft Museum. Carey recalls Camille Cook, Lia Cook, Martha Connell, Hillary Fletcher, Ted Hallman, Pat Mansfield, Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Yvonne Porcella, [Laurence] Rathsack, Victor Vasarely, and others.

Oral history interview with Carolyn Mazloomi, 2002 September 17-30

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 16 sound files (4 hr., 33 min.) digital, wav

Transcript: 56 pages

An interview of Carolyn Mazloomi conducted 2002 September 17 and 30, by Joanne Cubbs, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in West Chester, Ohio. Mazloomi speaks of growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a family of self-taught artists; the positive influence of her aunt and teacher Dr. Carter; the generation of African-American quilt-makers who followed a gap in quilt-making post-slavery; she describes her previous career as an aeronautical engineer and her transition to quilt-making; how she identifies herself as a craftsperson, not an artist; her experience with Baltimore album and Appalachian quilts; learning to quilt; the Women of Color Quilter's Network and its economic and social development programs; her book, "Spirits of the Cloth"; the positive and negative aspects of travel; the false generalizations of African-American quilts in academic circles; the importance of gender, race, and ethnicity in her work; her connection to "praise songs"; she discusses functional vs. nonfunctional quilts; the market for "hand-crafted" quilts; agents and galleries; she describes her working environment; adopting the use of a sewing machine in her work; the importance of community; her technique; her accomplishment of placing African-American quilts in the Renwick Gallery; the influence of magazines, including "Raw Vision;" her aversion to commissions; expanding her use of materials and technology; her exhibitions; her role as an advocate and dealer; finding inspiration in black and white linocuts and her use of color in quilts; and making a connection with her audience. Mazloomi also recalls Marie Wilson, Cuesta Benberry, Edjohnetta Miller, Roland Freeman, Robert Cargo, Martha Connell, Penny Sisto, Minnie Adkins, Nkosi Johnson, and Lauryn Hill.

Oral history interview with Lia Cook, 2006 August 22-29

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 36 pages

An interview of Lia Cook conducted 2006 August 22-29, by Suzanne Baizerman, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in the artist's studio, in Berkeley, California.

Cook speaks of her childhood in California; studying political science at University of California, Berkeley; being strongly influenced by the textiles of Mexican cultures; studying weaving at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design and Handarbetets Vänner in Stockholm, Sweden; attending graduate school at Berkeley under Ed Rossbach; a strong interest in photography; teaching experiences at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; participating in the Lausanne International Biennial of Tapestry in Switzerland; the impact of the digital Jacquard loom on the development of her work; travels throughout Europe and Japan; commission work; experiences with Allrich Gallery, Hadler/Rodriguez Gallery, and Perimeter Gallery; series Fabric Landscape, Material Pleasure, Point of Touch, Presence/Absence, and Anatomy of a Portrait; her involvement with American Craft Council, European Textile Network, and College Art Association; and the importance of teaching in her life. Cook also recalls Gyongy Laky, Nance O'Banion, Deborah Rappaport, Sheila Hicks, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Peter and Ritzi Jacobi, and others.
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