Crafting Modernism: Western NY Connections

Crafting Modernism: Western New York Connections

Door from Crafting Modernism by Ruth RadakovichThe importance of western New York in the history of the craft movement cannot be underestimated. Three institutions in particular were well represented in Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design—RIT’s School for American Crafts (SAC), the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and Syracuse University.

Artists with SAC connections included furniture maker and sculptor Wendell Castle, artist-in-residence and faculty member since the 1960s; metalsmith Albert Paley, who came to the school in 1968 and today holds an endowed chair; metalsmith Hans Christensen, who taught 1954–83; Christensen students Vincent Ferrini, Ronald Senungetuk and Olaf Skoogfors; jeweler Ronald Hayes Pearson, who taught at the school and cofounded Shop One, the historic craftsman-run gallery which operated 1953–77; metalsmith John “Jack” Prip, another founder of Shop One; and Prip students Robert J. King, Lorna Pearson Watson and Ruth Radakovich. (Radakovich was further connected with the Memorial Art Gallery, where she taught at the Creative Workshop.) And two artists—Charles Laloma and Earl McCutchen—taught at SAC in 1947-48, when it was headquartered at Alfred University.

Other artists with Alfred connections included F. Carlton Ball, Fong Chow, Ka-Kwong Hui, Joel Philip Myers, William Parry and Robert Chapman Turner.

Artists with Syracuse University connections included silversmith John C. Marshall; and jeweler and metalsmith Earl Pardon, who went on to chair the art department at Skidmore College.

Pictured: Door (1969) by Ruth Radakovich was among the objects on view in Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design. Fiberglass, resin, lenses, wood. Collection of the Prairie School, Racine, WI.