Museum’s new exhibit, Handcrafted: Artisans Past & Present

Rainbow Carrots Basket, by Kari Lonning (basketry)

Rainbow Carrots Basket, by Kari Lonning (basketry)

Creativity and craftsmanship, part of the rich history of Fairfield County, are still thriving locally today. From sumptuous contemporary rugs to antique furniture, the region possesses a rich tradition of decorative arts. Items and artifacts including textiles, blown-glass and hand-crafted jewelry will be featured as part of the Fairfield Museum’s newest exhibition, Handcrafted: Artisans Past & Present. The exhibit opens on Oct. 25 and runs through March 27, 2016.

This exhibition celebrates the diverse and talented artisans who work in Fairfield County today and explores the connection between the area’s strong history of decorative arts and present-day design trends. Working artisans participating in Handcrafted include Fairfielder Michael Michaud and Fairfield native Marnie Smith. Michaud studied under several master jewelers and metal casters and was trained at RIT’s School for American Craftsmen. His botanical jewelry combines an exceptional knowledge of jewelry-making with a love of nature. Smith creates 17th-century textiles for Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts and is a recent graduate of the Artisanry program at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, with a focus on textile design and fiber arts. Other exhibiting local artisans include textile artist Ruben Marroquin (Bridgeport), weaver Patricia Burling (Monroe), woodworker Thomas Throop (New Canaan), glass-blower Dylan Cotton who runs Hotspot Glass Studio in Fairfield, basket weaver Kari Lonning (Ridgefield), quilt-maker Denyse Schmidt (Bridgeport), ceramist Frances Palmer (Weston) and woodworker Edward Pirnik-Mauriz (Fairfield).

Concerto, by Patricia Burling (weaver)

Concerto, by Patricia Burling (weaver)

“Many local artists are inspired by techniques and materials of the past, with aesthetics that draw on a wide range of influences, blurring traditional boundaries separating craft from fine art,” said Tanya Pohrt, Interim Curator of Exhibitions. “In displaying contemporary craft alongside historic decorative arts objects, we see both commonalities and differences,” she noted. “Whereas 18th and 19th- century tables, quilts, and ceramics tell fascinating stories about their owners and how objects functioned in the past, newly made pieces spark questions about how they will be used and what meaning will they acquire in the future.”

The exhibition will be opening with a gala preview party on October 24. Tickets are still available for “An Artisan Evening” by calling 203-259-1598 or online at an-artisan-evening.eventbrite.com.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Fairfield Museum will be holding a “Museum After Dark” event, Modern Design: Collecting from the Jazz Age to the Space Age on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 6-8 p.m. This event will feature John Stuart Gordon of Yale University for a lively lecture about his role in acquiring design objects for Yale’s collection and the current decorative arts market. Hear what objects and eras are hot among collectors today. John Stuart Gordon, the Benjamin Attmore Hewitt Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery, has a Ph.D. from Boston University and is the author of A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920-1950 (Yale University Press, 2011). He specializes in American design from the late 19th through 21st centuries. In addition, he supervises the Furniture Study, the Yale University Art Gallery’s large study collection of American furniture and wooden objects. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

The Museum will also offer a family program on Sunday, Nov. 22, from 2-4 p.m., Giving Thanks with Handmade. Attendees will create handmade crafts inspired by Native American culture, including corn husk dolls, and will be able to submit favorite Thanksgiving traditions on the Museum’s Thankful Wall. Free with admission.

About the Fairfield Museum and History Center

The Fairfield Museum is a fascinating non-profit museum, library, cultural arts and educational organization founded in 1903 that provides families in Fairfield County with a wide array of exhibits and educational programs that teach regional history, celebrate a shared heritage, and prepare students and adults to be more active participants in their community. Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, the Museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.

We believe in the power of history to inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society. Our mission is to connect people around the complex history of Fairfield and neighboring communities so that together we may shape a more informed future. Program support comes from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, CT Humanities and our generous community donors and corporate sponsors.

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