Spotlight: The Long Island Craft Guild

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Julianna Kirk

Traditionally the term “craft” conveyed images of objects of utilitarian use. Indeed, historically craft referred to handmade, useful, often well designed objects of necessity. With the advent of the industrial revolution, resulting in mass production, the philosophy of folk arts and crafts began to change. After World War II, a more sophisticated sensibility emerged. Traditional materials including clay, fiber, wood, metals, glass and paper began to challenge the fine arts in originality, expressiveness and beauty.

With the excitement and potential of this burgeoning craft movement as background four perceptive Long Islanders, all jewelers, realized the need for a local organization. This became the birth of the Long Island Craftsmen’s Guild, Inc., chartered in 1959 by the University of the State of New York as an independent, educational nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The year 2019 will herald the 60th anniversary. Membership is open to all people interested in the creation and exhibition of fine crafts as well as educational opportunities through a regular program of meetings, workshops and professional guest lecturers. The membership is varied, including novices, the professional craftsperson, including an early member whose work had been shown in the Whitney Museum, MOMA, The Brooklyn Museum and the Carnegie Institute, art teachers and those who just appreciate fine work. The officers, chosen by the membership, board of directors and media group chairs conduct regular business and plan meetings at which all interested guild members and the public are welcome. Several juried exhibitions are mounted each year in galleries, libraries, colleges and other venues throughout Long Island. These are open to all members.

The weekly e-newsletter contains articles and information pertinent to our members, such as lists of fairs and shows; galleries and boutiques; reviews of books and shows; members’ news; interviews, editorials and businesses offering discounts to members. The guild also serves as a resource for groups and individuals seeking qualified teachers, demonstrators and lecturers. In addition, the guild works with educational institutions and community groups on joint activities.

The guild has cooperated with colleges, universities and high schools to provide discussions, demonstrations and examples about various materials and process of particular crafts. Masters in the field have conducted demonstrations and seminars at our media groups and monthly meetings, such as Bruno Laverdiere, Val Cushing and Makato Yabe in Ceramics; Bob Cloughley from New Zealand in “Paper Clay;” Lorraine Kremeyer in the Magic of Mask making and Michele Lester, internationally known Weaver.

The realization that the guild needed a permanent home led to a financial arrangement in 1974 with Hofstra University, under the auspices of the Institute for Community Education. With help from grants by the NY State Council on the Arts, the Crafts Center was established on campus. Eventually, a whole series of classes was held including On-Loom and Off-Loom Weaving, Batiks, Plastics, Stained Glass, Glaze Chemistry, Stained Glass, Blown Glass, Stitchery, Quilting, Crochet, Raku, Wheel Thrown Pottery, Jewelry, Silversmithing, and Paper Making. Unfortunately, due to Hofstra’s needs for space the cooperative arrangement was short lived.

Numerous juried exhibitions have been hosted by Nassau Community College, Firehouse Gallery, Adelphi University Ruth S. Harley Center Gallery, Islip Art Museum Brookwood Hall, Hofstra University Emily Lowe Gallery, Art League of Long Island Jeannie Tangleson Gallery and Suffolf Community College, Brentwood Campus Gallery West.

“Echoes” will be the title for the all inclusive juried exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary to be held at the expansive Jeanie Tengleson Gallery of the Art League of Long Island. The dates will be March 9 through April 7. Crafts have created a community for those who enjoy experimentation with ideas, techniques and media, for those who seek to develop original objects and perfection of technique, for satisfying the collector spirit and enlivening the existence of LICG’s viewer audience.

For more information on The Long Island Craft Guild, visit www.licg.org.

—Submitted by The Long Island Craft Guild

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