Haystack’s Summer Conference, Craft Thinking: Ideas on Making, Materials, and Creative Process, focuses on thinking-through-craft. How do creative processes and materials inform the work that we make?

The 2016 Haystack Summer Conference features presenters, who come from a variety of creative disciplines in art, design, architecture, and writing. Our focus is on how we think through craft and how creative processes, audiences, and materials inform the work that we make. Craft is a place where innovation and tradition, skill and intuition, exist together. Whether making a mobile oven for baking bread, rethinking a museum collection, programming machines that can print objects, or choosing to work in vernacular tradition, the very definition and scope of craft is constantly shifting.

The conference is intimate in scale and allows ample time for informal conversations with presenters and attendees. Conference presenters give talks and either lead discussion groups or studio based workshops that provide a way of exploring ideas through materials.

The workshops and discussions are repeated so that attendees can take part in multiple activities. Registration for these is done each day of the conference and no previous experience is required.

2016 Conference Presenters:

Tanya Aguiniga compositeTanya Aguiñiga is a Los Angeles based designer and artist who was raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She received an MFA in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design. She created various collaborative installations with the Border Arts Workshop, an artists’ group that engages the languages of activism and community-based public art. Tanya Aguiñiga founded the group, Artists Helping Artisans, through which she helps spread knowledge of craft by collaborating with traditional artisans. Her work has been exhibited from Mexico City to Milan. She is a United States Artists Target Fellow in the field of Crafts and Traditional Arts, a GOOD 100 2013 Recipient and has been the subject of a cover article for American Craft and included in PBS’s Craft in America Series.

Performance Crafting: Hand in Hand
Hand in Hand will create a chain of strangers within the community each felting the others’ arms simultaneously. The process of wet felting calls on the maker to hand rub wool continuously in a massaging manner until a good sheet is created. Each participant will felt the left arm of the person in front of them, creating a chain of perpetual care through craft. The process will be documented and the resulting work will be exhibited as a series of hollow arms, marking the collective action of making through care for one another. The work aims to connect community members,
teach new skills, engage the public in the making of
exhibited art, and satisfy our needs for human contact
while exposing individuals to craft.

Nora AtkinsonNora Atkinson is the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Since joining the museum in 2014, she has been primarily responsible for acquiring artworks for the museum’s permanent collection, furthering scholarship in the field of craft, and organizing exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery following a major renovation of its historic building. Nora Atkinson is the curatorial lead for the reinstallation of the Renwick’s contemporary craft permanent collection galleries in 2016, as well as the 2016 Renwick Invitational, and is producing catalogues to coincide with both of these projects. Her research interests focus on contemporary craft and design, with particular emphasis on the link between objects and identity, the role of the handmade in contemporary culture, and craft as counterculture.

Interpreting Objects in the Digital Age
Since the 1990s, the internet has gradually taken over our lives. We have seen dramatic shifts not only in how we conceive of objects—what we make and how we make them—but just as importantly, how we think about them. In this, the craft museum finds itself in an interesting position. Though conversations about craft and the digital frequently surround new directions in the work itself, fewer seem to have focused on another significant part of the equation—the opportunities and challenges facing the craft museum. Nora Atkinson’s talk will focus on the opportunities and challenges of engaging audiences in the richness of three-dimensional, real world objects in an era when our interface with the world has become increasingly virtual, and looks to explore how artists and museums can exploit new modes of thinking to present objects in fresh ways for a twenty-first century audience.

Dan Beachy-QuickDan Beachy-Quick is a poet, essayist, critic, and novelist, author most recently of gentlessness (Tupelo Press) and Shields & Shards & Stitches & Songs (Omnidawn). He has published poems and essays widely, in venues ranging from The Boston Review, Poetry, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review to The New York Times. His work has been supported by the Lannan Foundation, and he is a Guggenheim Fellow for 2015-2016. Dan Beachy-Quick teaches in, and directs, the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Colorado State University.

Sensing / Thinking / Making
For artists and writers, a realization gradually builds, that the mind begins in the senses. Yet, it is easy to drift away from the power of the discovery, making art out of habits of mind that exclude the sensual intelligence they should depend upon. This workshop will seek ways—through readings, exercises, conversations, and experiment—to return each of us to that initial, initiating space, in which word and world seek mutual correspondence, and the artist is the medium of that fundamental exchange.

Daniel JohnstonDaniel Johnston spent four years as an apprentice with Mark Hewitt, after which time he traveled to England to work with earthenware potter Clive Bowen. His training then took him to Northeast Thailand to work with Mr. Sawein Silakhom in a jar factory where he learned traditional large jar making techniques. Daniel Johnston Pottery was established in 2003 in Seagrove, North Carolina, where he makes large wood-fired jars, as well as functional tableware, from local materials. Over the past twelve years, Daniel Johnston has embarked on several large projects such as the 100 Large Jar Project.

Creating a Volume and Marking a Line
The model of studio apprenticeships has a rich tradition in the field of craft. In this workshop Daniel Johnston will discuss his own training, working alongside master potter Mark Hewitt, and the larger legacy of potters Bernard Leah and Michael Cardew on the landscape of American ceramics. Drawing on his own experience making pots in Thailand, Daniel Johnston will demonstrate the technique for making large jars and his method of surface treatment that stems largely from the English slipware tradition. The large objects that Daniel Johnston will produce in this workshop will
serve as the backdrop for participants to directly
experience mark making and surface treatment that is
deeply rooted in vernacular traditions.

Faythe LevineFaythe Levine works as an independent researcher, multi-media artist, curator, author, and collector currently based in rural middle Tennessee. Her creative practice is not tied down to one medium and is based on whatever she is passionate about. Over time her work has accumulated into a large portfolio centered around ongoing themes of community, creativity, awareness, process, empowerment, and documentation. Faythe Levine’s two most widely known projects, Sign Painters (2013) and Handmade Nation (2009), both feature length documentaries with accompanying books, have toured extensively in formal and renegade outlets. All of her work aims to communicate honesty, authenticity, and quality of life. She has made it a priority that her projects stay approachable and accessible to a large audience, interacting with people in a way that establishes creativity as a vehicle towards personal independence.

Celebrating Generational Differences
and Divergent Practices in the DIY Movement

Over the past ten years there has been a rise in the DIY craft movement that has at times intersected with and at other times veered away from the more established field of contemporary craft itself. The democratic nature of the (DIY) movement has led to a widespread embrace of making that has actively engaged a new generation of creatives. Influencing makers to more forward together, Faythe Levine reminds us of the importance of change and the active infiltration of tradition as we chart new directions within a hybridized field of craft. Learning to play creative matchmaker, finding inspiration all around us, and connecting the dots are part of a strategy that can empower us to redefine the future of craft, no matter how uncomfortable it may initially seem, with the ultimate goal being to celebrate generational differences and divergent practices.

Michael O'MalleyMichael O’Malley is Professor of Sculpture at Pomona College in Claremont, California. After receiving an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Notre Dame he volunteered on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota teaching composition and ceramics. The experience encouraged him to return to school to study art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, after which he spent several years working in the building trades learning carpentry, furniture making, and traditional plastering. Michael O’Malley received an MFA from Stanford University and has been the recipient of residences at Art Pace and the John Michael Kohler Arts Industry program, among others. As a sculptor his work has been shown nationally and internationally and responds to the conventions and attitudes that shape the aesthetics of the built environment. Also an avid baker, Michael O’Malley has developed a portable bread oven (M.O.M.O) that serves as a tool for community engagement and an object of social sculpture.

Mended, Cut, and Notched
The practice of joinery has a long history that involves connecting two or more pieces of material. While the activity itself has a basis in solving a structural need, it also signals a value system through how something is made. Focusing on the mortise and tenon, the lap joint, the scarf joint, the dovetail, and the decorative patch, this workshop will explore the relationship of the hand and craft to reproducibility, precision, and expediency, all the while considering the potential for a technique to be the starting point for a collective conversation.

Ron RaelRon Rael is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley with a joint appointment in the departments of Architecture and Art Practice. His creative practice, Rael San Fratello, established in 2002 with Virginia San Fratello, is an internationally recognized award-winning studio whose work lies at the intersection of architecture, art, culture, and the environment. He is the CEO of Emerging Objects—a pioneering design and research company that focuses on innovative 3D printed materials and objects for the built environment.

Digital Manufacturing and the Making of Craft
Digital manufacturing and manual craft are often seen as opposing ends of a technological spectrum, however, participants in this workshop will explore how to bridge the gaps that exist between non-industrial, industrial, and digital modes of making. Considering questions such as how materials, machines and 3D printing can allow for the reconsideration of contemporary craft alongside the desire maintain the hand as a vital role in the design process will inform the conversations among participants.

Paul Sacaridiz

Paul Sacaridiz is an artist and the Executive Director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. From 2007-2015 he served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been named a fellow with the National Council of Arts Administrators and has served on numerous boards with not for profit arts organizations. Paul Sacaridiz has been the recipient of numerous artist residencies and his work has been included in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, among others.

Thinking About One Thing While Looking at Another
How does our understanding of a field change as the very definitions and scope of a practice continue to evolve? This opening presentation will provide an introduction to the conference while asking what it means to think through craft and exploring the possibilities in looking at something seemingly familiar in a new way.






Jenni SorkinJenni Sorkin is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at University of California, Santa Barbara. She received a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MA in Curatorial Studies from The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and a PhD in the History of Art from Yale University. She has received fellowships from the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies), Luce Foundation, and Getty Research Institute. Jenni Sorkin’s writing has appeared in Art Journal, Art Monthly, NU: The Nordic Art Review, Frieze, The Journal of Modern Craft, Modern Painters, Third Text, and Texte zur Kunst. Her book, Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community, about gender and post-war ceramics practice, was recently published from The University of Chicago Press.

Pond Farm and the Summer Craft Experience, 1950-1980
Drawing on her recently published book, Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community, Jenni Sorkin’s talk reframes the legacy of Bauhaus-trained potter Marguerite Wildenhain (American, b. France, 1896–1985) within the history of summer craft programs, functional pottery, gender bias, and craft pedagogies. Far from being an isolated field, ceramics as practiced by Marguerite Wildenhain, offered a sense of community and social engagement, which, Jenni Sorkin argues, crucially set the stage for later participatory forms of art and feminist collectivism.

Receive a 20% Discount

Students who attend a Summer Workshop at Haystack receive a 20% discount on registration for the conference! Mark the “Conference Special” box on the Workshop Application. You must be 18 years old to apply. Haystack processes applications on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Register for Haystack’s 2016 Summer Conference

Browse Haystack’s Online Catalog of 2016 Summer Programs