Event turns spotlight on future

American Craft Show hopes to encourage emerging artists

February 18, 2007|By Gena R. Chattin | Gena R. Chattin,Sun Reporter

Hundreds of the nation's leading artists in ceramics, glass, jewelry and other fine crafts will be in Baltimore this week for the annual American Craft Show.

Now the largest juried, indoor craft show in the country, the event draws thousands of visitors each February to the Baltimore Convention Center.

This is the Baltimore show's 31st year, but the event has its eyes on the future with two new categories that spotlight emerging artists and art for future generations.

One is the kid-centric Craft 4 Kids, a category encompassing clothing, toys and decor for infants and small children. Works in Craft 4 Kids range from the whimsical to the practical, from ethereal silken lamps to intricate wooden puzzles, and touch on many aspects of a child's real and imaginary lives.

"We just hope to really communicate all the different aspects of craft," said Mary Fichter, the American Craft Council's director of marketing and communications. Part of the council's mission is to communicate new ideas in craft to the public. Fichter thought the new category was a fun way to achieve that goal.

The show's Searchlight Artists category features 15 emerging artists, giving them a chance to market their works and, at the same time, reveal new trends in craft. Among the newcomers is decorative fiber artist Karin Birch of Brunswick, a 2003 recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award.

Fichter said the show will be the first public exhibition for some of the Searchlight Artists. "That's what the council's all about: encouraging these emerging artists and bringing their work to the market," she said.

This year's show also offers two exclusive sneak previews. Guests will get to see Creating Traditions: African American Glass Artists, an exhibit developed by the Anacostia Community Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, more than a year before its May 2008 premiere. Exhibit curator S. Denise Rouse and artists Akili Ron Anderson, Acquaetta Williams and Dudley Vaccianna are scheduled to appear for a lecture.

Another sneak peek allows guests to watch the PBS documentary series Craft in America two months before its television debut. The series explores craft's role in American history and asks hard questions about its future in the age of technology. Series executive producer Carol Sauvion will lead a panel discussion after the viewing.

gena.chattin@baltsun.com

IF YOU GO

What:

American Craft Show

Where:

Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt St.

Hours:

10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 25

Tickets:

$14; $20 for a two-day pass. Free for children younger than 12 and American Craft Council members

Call:

800-836-3470 or craftcouncil.org/baltimore

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