Craft + Design: 59 Nationally Recognized Artists Descend on Richmond for the Weekend

As a lead up to Craft+ Design 2016, a museum-quality show that showcases fine contemporary crafts, a series of feature stories on attending artists was written for the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. The stories were used on VisArts’ homepage and the organization’s e-newsletter.

View the article on VisArts’ website

Warner Whitfield’s glass sculptures are reminiscent of flying herons seen while kayaking in Florida’s rivers and the coral gardens that bloom in clear Caribbean waters. Each sculpture is created without the use of molds or castings and is formed by first melting glass into a taffy-like texture. With the aid of heat and gravity, the glass is gathered, stretched and blown into shape.

Whitfield is one of 59 artists who will travel to Richmond Nov. 18-20 for the 52nd annual Craft + Design show, held at the Science Museum of Virginia. The show will feature artists specializing in glass, fiber, jewelry, wood, ceramics, wearable, mixed media, sculpture and functional metal.

“We’re ready to introduce our work to a new audience in Richmond,” said Whitfield, who is one of 19 artists attending the show for the first time this year. “We’ve created designs specifically for this event and are excited to be in the company of such fine fellow artists.”

Artists attending this year’s show come from across the country. Sculpture/3-D artist Amber Harrison of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a new exhibitor this year. Her contemporary small-scale sculptures are vignettes of the “everyday extraordinary.”

Harrison describes her pieces as “individual time capsules containing meaning and memories. Metal is a kind of poetry, becoming malleable under heat, easy to form, but returns solid and strong again after it is cooled and worked.”

New local notables include wood artist Daniel Rickey, glass artist Sean Donlon and jewelry artist Caitie Sellers. Donlon’s work is currently installed in the lobby of Richmond’s Quirk Hotel.

The show’s featured artist is jeweler Ashley Buchanan, who works primarily in powder-coated brass. She has exhibited her work at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and has been featured in national publications such as Ornament Magazine, Metalsmith Magazine and American Craft Magazine, where she was short-listed for the Emerging Voices Award.

Returning for the sixth time this year is 2015 Craft + Design Contemporary Design Award winner Wendy Stevens. She will showcase her collection of stainless steel handbags, all hand-fabricated for durability and functionality but featuring a modern flair.

Stevens’ longtime fans can look forward to new designs and styles this year, including the Lucia wallet, which “fits the iPhone 7 and your favorite Chanel lipstick too.” Stevens said that in addition to her existing designs, her collection will feature new designs with a wider price range and several new color and finish options.

“People who attend the show in Richmond seem to have an appreciation for my work and understand it for its artistic and functional value,” she said. “I find Richmond to be a really friendly town, with great food, interesting people and lots of diversity. I always get a lot of intelligent questions, and the show is so intimate, I can really talk to the customer base. There’s a feeling that this show is integrated into the culture of the city.”

Photo credit: Visual Arts Center of Richmond