July 2022 Student Craft Staff Exhibit at Lexington’s Parachute Factory
In 2021, Berea College made a commitment to provide a special opportunity for Student Craft staff and visiting apprentices to explore their individual artistic interests during the year to nurture their own creativity as skilled artisans. This show, and subsequent digital archive, presents the results of that commitment as well as the work of Justin Skeens, Berea’s director of digital storytelling (and long-time Student Craft photographer), and two of our early apprentices, Chris True and Stella Welsh, who completed their submissions after their time in the Apprenticeship Program.
- Aaron Beale
- Chris Robbins
- Chris True
- Emerson Croft
- Erin Miller
- Hunter Elliott
- Jedidiah Radosevich
- Justin Skeens
- Paskalini Savopoulos-Wilkins
- Philip Wiggs
- Rob Spiece
- Stella Welsh
- Steve Davis-Rosenbaum
- Thea Zwier
- Trey Gehring
Sales of these pieces contributed to supporting the wonderful work of the Parachute Factory and the educational mission of Berea College.
Wood, broomcorn, nylon string, cotton cordage, 2022
As a lifetime scholar of broom making, I am constantly studying other broom makers work, learning new techniques and trying to push the envelope as to what is possible with the often-overlooked everyday broom. This piece is another step in taking brooms out of the closet and making them the works of art they deserve to be. I started with a handle harvested from the Berea College Forest whose artful moss and shape caught my eye. Then I crafted the broom by braiding each of the outside pieces and then quartering the stalks at the tops of those pieces and braiding them again. The result to me looks like a birdcage housing the internal layers of the broom. It was a great exercise in patience and dexterity and during the process I often thought my mind had flown the coop!
(Pieces from L to R), Lidded Cherry Box, “Maple” Hollow Form, Cherry Hollow Form, Capstone
Walnut and maple, 2021
These four pieces are part of a series in my exploration of vessels and hollow forms. Not knowing where I wanted to go with it, I chose to start small. The small, lidded cherry box was the first piece, this allowed me to play with the idea of form as it related to the handle flowing with the rest of the piece. The second form was the “maple” piece with the flared rim. This was the first truly hollow piece in the series. The third piece and the final small piece in the series was the cherry hollow form. The opening in the top of this form was smaller making the hollowing slightly more difficult. The final piece in the series was the lidded “maple” hollow form on a stand. This piece brought all the aspects I was exploring throughout the series together into one “Capstone” piece.
I have placed maple in quotations because that’s what I believe it to be. One of the things about turning is that it allows you to use up scrap or salvaged pieces of material and turn them into wonderful pieces of art. The “maple” was salvaged from the construction site of a building that was being constructed on the campus of Berea College. The cherry was saved from a family members tree and has what I believe to be either carpenter ant holes or worm holes which give it lots of character.
Morus alba 1-16
Silk, cotton, 2022
My work explores the intimacy and fragility of the human relationship with cloth and our tenuous understanding of where it comes from and how it arrives to us. As an educator, guiding students toward the realization that cloth encompasses their lives from birth to death helps keep me close to that epiphany. I have worked with textiles in some capacity for all of my professional life, with particular reverence for that which was discarded or no longer deemed useful.
This body of work honors a past self with the gift of time and intuition. When weaving, I primarily rely on the systems and constraints of the medium as boundaries to focus my thoughts and energy in a navigable direction. When quilting, I choose to work with fabrics that have already known a life of some sort before they arrive to me. These quilts were developed using silks that made their way to me through many hands, who’s individual histories have been lost to time and travel. Their pattern, texture, wear, and character inform the design and piecing process. Their diminutive size allowed for an investigative playfulness; the building of a relationship and understanding with each quilt as I worked through its form.
The Science Building Dulcimer
Recycled Pine and Walnut, 2022
Perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of work I have experienced was a Homer Ledford dulcimer made from a Poplar Church Pew. The process I took from experiencing his piece is something I strive to develop in my life and work – to observe something that is ordinary and find the beauty and usefulness in what could come. When the opportunity came for me to use 80 hours for the student craft show, I came back to the object of that experience.
I had the opportunity to use forgotten materials for this project, similar to the Ledford dulcimer. To make the sound board I used part of a pine support beam from the recently demolished Hall Science building on Berea College’s campus. For the back and sides, I found some walnut that had been in storage for 20 years. Honoring the design tradition of dulcimer makers, I used hearts for the top row of sound holes and put my own spin, and Christian identity on the dulcimer, with the cross shaped sound holes for the lower portion.
Can You Hear the Color Bars?
Zenith Television, DVD player, Ale 8 One Crate, Antique wooden stand, 2017-2022
Ray Bradbury feared a dystopian society. In his prophetic Fahrenheit 451, we are drawn to screens, faces on the wall manipulating us into how we should function as people. We scorched the written stories.
Today, I’m the person producing the images for the face on the wall.
But did Bradbury consider moving images could be burnt away as well? I spent six years in the broadcast news industry, with every story having a six o’clock expiration date. Have you seen an archive room in a larger market news station? Picture a neglected storage unit with the garden maze from The Shining built with cardboard boxes full of Sharpied labels. My stories are lost in a number of those closets across the Ohio Valley.
As a crafter who deals with the typical struggles of an artist, that added layer of loss – that my work may be lost forever within a recycled Grippos potato chip box bound to a dimly lit storage closet – began to hurt my creative soul. I left broadcast news to avoid expirations.
Queue the dominance of social media where every story must be thirty seconds or less; after a few likes, it vanishes into oblivion. Not even a storage closet, now a server, somewhere in the world. How does one preserve a visual craft? How do you save a story for the next listener?
Many films of crafters and artists are lost; we will never see or hear them again. The art of documentary is becoming lost and murky. My piece is not answering how to save the art or the stories. The stories shown here may be lost as well, after all, these films did not perform well on social media when first posted. I present them today on a 1970’s Zenith television to see what it would have looked like if these were presented during a time in which we consumed media differently. I wonder if my work would have been enjoyed and watched then more intently then.
Earthenware and Stoneware clay, various slips and glazes, epoxy, metal, 2022
The Wheelbarrow series reflects two of my interests: water and functional objects symbolic of hard physical labor. Often when I explore the rivers and creeks of eastern Kentucky, I feel I am wading through a tangible living wilderness, far from cares and responsibility of work and family. While wandering the rough confines and confluences of wild water, I sense a deep kinship and spiritual connection to the purported wilderness surrounding me.
This escape from responsibility is at best, illusory.
On one of these excursions, I came across an old RCA television, sunk deep in the muck of the river. To me, this presented a jarring yet beautifully visual image. I saw in this image evidence of people, lives lived upstream. The TV screen doesn’t broadcast now but creates reflection of the lush beauty surrounding it. Its delicate interior electronics impacted with water, microbes and soil, creating a new biosphere hopefully capable of supporting life.
The wheelbarrow is a tool used for carting heavy loads of dirt with ease. In this tool I see apt metaphor for the river working, carrying water, fish, and fragments of lives through the mountains.
Kentucky Spirits Cabinet
Rob Spiece, Hunter Elliott
Cherry, brass, cotton chord, basket reed, 2022
This dovetailed cabinet in curly cherry frames a book-match of cherry on the arched door panels. A single drawer runs on wood runners. The door and drawer pulls were woven with reed and cotton cord for a splash of tactile contrast.
This piece is offered to support Commitment #6: to create a democratic community dedicated to education and gender equality. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade recently, individual freedom of choice is under attack.
Profits from the sale of this cabinet will be donated to the Kentucky Health Justice Network (KHJN). The Kentucky Health Justice Network builds the power of Kentuckians to achieve reproductive justice. Its mission is supported through direct support, education and outreach.
Its work is guided by a reproductive justice framework, developed by women and people of color. KHJN believes reproductive rights are human rights, and that all people should be able to decide if, when, and how to parent.
All my pottery is thrown on the potter’s wheel and altered using hand-building techniques. The clay is a specially formulated red earthenware (also referred to as terracotta). Maiolica pottery refers to a process where an opaque white glaze is applied over red earthenware (terracotta) and decorated with colored stains. The word Maiolica refers to a historical style and technique that dates back to the 9th century and is unique for its colorful decoration. After being bisqued (or first fired), the pottery is coated with the maiolica glaze and decorated with colored stains. During the firing, the stains melt into the glaze resulting in colorfully designed pottery. The pottery is fired in an electric kiln to approximately 1955 o F.
My pottery is made for daily use in the home and garden, and glazes are food safe and lead-free. I sign my work “DARO,” an abbreviation for Davis-Rosenbaum.
Locus Coeruleus, 7 Pitchers
Thea M. Zwier
7 soda fired, ceramic pitchers, cobalt stain, 2022
Where is my worth?
Does it lie in my utility, my usefulness
Does it lie in my capacity, my ability to hold
Does it lie in my beauty, my pleasingness to your eye
Does it lie in my matter? I’m my material, my chemicals, my bones.
Where is my worth?
I lean my worth up against these things, stack it on top of my utility, capacity, beauty and pleasingness; and there it all crumbles.
split into pieces, I look for it
I held all the water I could in my capacity and porosity, until I had to drop it,
pour it out to the waiting patience below
I am put back together, my scars highlighted, embellished in blue, in air and iron,
in communion, travel and trade
I have made myself in care and put back together the same
Not all the pieces fit back into place as they were
I will never be the same; time and use demand
Where was my worth before
and where is it again