In August of 1938, Aileen Osborne Webb invited groups from around the country with a vested interest in the production of craft objects to a meeting at the Shelburne House in Shelburne, Vermont. By the end of that three-day meeting the participants had established the first national organization of American craft artists under the name Handcraft Cooperative League of America. This was the seed of what would become America's largest, most significant craft organization, the American Craft Council.
It can be argued that because of this momentous gathering, Vermont served as the birthplace of the modern American craft movement. Over the ensuing seven decades, Vermont developed into one of the epicenters of the crafts revival in America. Despite this pivotal position, the artistic, social, and economic history of the contemporary crafts movement in the Green Mountain State was never before researched in any depth or presented in a major museum exhibition.
State of Craft, presented at the Bennington Museum in 2010, examined the evolution of the contemporary studio craft movement in Vermont from the mid-twentieth century to the current day. The exhibition explored three overarching themes, Living by “Making”, Inspirations, and Communities and Connections. Each theme included stories of Vermont's diverse craftspeople and illustrated the multifaceted nature of craft production in the state.
As curators, we were honored to present over 120 pieces by 90 Vermont craftspeople whose collective stories tell the history of Vermont's Craft Movement.
Jamie Franklin, Curator, Bennington Museum
Anne Majusiak, Guest Curator, State of Craft