DEMOCRACY artist bios
DEMOCRACY premieres on PBS December 11, 2020 (check local listings). DEMOCRACY is now available to stream on the PBS Video App, pbs.org/craftinamerica and craftinamerica.org, giving viewers the opportunity to watch the episode as part of PBS election programming.
Robert L. Lynch
Robert L. Lynch is the president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, an organization that seeks to make connections between individuals, leaders, organizations, communities, and businesses in order to advance and cultivate the arts in America. Lynch’s unwavering commitment “to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts” has seen the organization grow to more than 50 times its original size in services and membership, all during his more than 35 years of leadership. He had been the director of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies for 12 years when, in 1996, he oversaw the merging of that organization with the American Council for the Arts to form Americans for the Arts. That same year he also created the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a national advocacy group that fights for arts funding and education. Lynch is on the board of the American Craft Council and the Commission on the Arts of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has also been a board member of the Independent Sector and the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 recognized his passionate and highly effective leadership by selecting him on five occasions as one of the 50 most influential executives in the nonprofit sector for five years.
Sammy Little is a calligrapher with over 30 years of professional experience. She has applied her skillful hand to projects for the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the US Supreme Court and presidential inaugural luncheons. Her work exemplifies the importance of cursive handwriting in our nation’s democratic traditions and as a record of our history. She was a teacher and lecturer of calligraphy and is a founding officer of the Washington Calligrapher’s Guild. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and has been shown in exhibitions all over the world.
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Renwick Gallery is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art, one of the finest and most extensive collections of its kind. The museum’s home is a National Historic Landmark, the first building erected expressly as an art museum in the United States, and is named in honor of its architect, James Renwick, Jr. It has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1972. The Renwick exhibits the most exciting works by artists exploring traditional and innovative approaches to making, emphasizing craft as an approach to living differently in the modern world. Collections, special exhibitions, and scholarship highlight how extraordinary handmade objects have shaped the American experience and continue to impact our lives.
Carla is a textile and mixed media artist who lives in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. Her work has been included in group exhibits in the United States, Canada, Germany, Russia and France. She was the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Iroquois Arts from the Iroquois Museum in Howes Cave, New York. Her work ‘Tribute to the Mohawk Ironworkers’, was included in the 2019 ‘Smithsonian American Women, Remarkable Objects and Stories of Strength, Ingenuity and Vision from the National Collection.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Smithsonian Institution museum. Its founding had been in the concept phase since the early part of the 20th century, but Congressional opposition stalled its progress for decades. After years of advocacy and effort, the museum’s construction was authorized in 2003 by George W. Bush. In September 2016, Barack Obama led the ceremony that officially opened the museum at its permanent location on 24th Street and Constitution Avenue NW on the National Mall in Washington DC. NMAAHC has collected more than 36,00 objects and numerous interactive exhibits covering the arts, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, athletics, music, and much more. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director states, “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.”
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is a Smithsonian Institution museum dedicated to “advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present, and future—through partnership with Native people and others.” NMAI has three separate facilities: the museum on the National Mall in Washington DC; the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City; and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland. Through these facilities the organization hosts exhibitions, conducts research, and operates educational and arts programs. In 1989 the National Museum of the American Indian act Act was passed (amended in 1996), and the NMAI officially became part of the Smithsonian Institution and called for the repatriation of specific Native cultural objects. The museum’s vast collection – which contains Native artifacts, photographs, archives, and media – along with its diverse programming, serves to exemplify and highlight the rich diversity of Native people and Native culture in the contexts of both American history and contemporary American life.
Harvey Pratt is an accomplished Native American master artist and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. He began his career as a forensic artist, and for over 50 years has worked with law enforcement to complete thousands of witness description drawings and hundreds of soft tissue reconstructions. His art practice is multi-disciplinary, including painting, sculpture, wood carving, mural painting, bronze, architectural design, and graphic design. His work is a blend of his unique experience in forensic art and law enforcement with Native American cultural themes. Pratt’s Warrior’s Circle of Honor was selected as the winning design for the forthcoming National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. His design incorporates fire, water, wind, drums, the cardinal points, and the circle shape to create an interactive and intimate gathering space. In addition to his artistic practice, Pratt lectures frequently and aids investigations through training classes.
Veterans History Project
Part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project is an archive of interviews, photographs, memoirs, illustrations, and other historic documents that gives voice to the personal experiences of US war veterans. Housed in the Library of Congress, this vast collection provides firsthand accounts of the realities of war, making them accessible to the public and preserving them for future generations. The United States Congress introduced legislation to create the project in 2000, and it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 27, 2000.
Eudorah Moore (b. 1918, d. 2013) was a curator and champion of California craft and design. Moore moved to Pasadena in the 1940s, where she was deeply entrenched in the arts community. In the early 1950s, she established the Pasadena Arts Alliance and served as its founding president. In 1957, she became Board president of Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art) and was later appointed Curator of Design in 1962. During her tenure at the Museum, she helped to highlight handcrafted arts and California design, blurring the distinction between art and craft. Moore transformed the Museum’s California Design exhibition series from an annual presentation of contemporary furniture to an encompassing triennial, showcasing the diversity and artistry of California craft. Moore curated three iterations of California Design for the Museum, and then two additional shows after leaving the institution. Shortly before her departure, Moore curated the seminal show Islands in the Land, exhibiting works by craftsmen from the Southern Appalachians and the Valley of the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Between 1978 and 1981 she was the crafts coordinator at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she campaigned for greater craft recognition and increased financial support for artists. In recognition of her longstanding and visionary commitment to craft, Moore received numerous honors including the Smith College Medal and an honorary doctorate from California College of the Arts.
Berea College is a private liberal arts work college in Berea, Kentucky. Founded in 1855, Berea College is recognized for its no-tuition promise, providing free education to every student. The College has been a leader in the Appalachian Crafts movement since the 1890s, when it established the Berea Student Craft Program. Beginning with Weaving in 1893, the school has since added Woodcraft in 1895, and Broomcraft and Ceramics in 1920. The Student Craft Program is a part of Berea’s broader Labor Program, which requires every student to contribute to the operations of the school through a number of job opportunities, including craft. Over 100 students work in the Student Craft Program, and their work is available for sale in person and online through the Berea College Visitor Center and Shoppe. All proceeds go back to supporting Berea College programs and its Tuition Promise.
Stephen Burks is a designer, educator, and traveler based in Brooklyn, New York. Burks believes in a pluralistic vision of design that is inclusive of all cultural perspectives. Man Made – his design practice – bridges the gap between authentic developing world production, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design. His projects often embrace hand production as a strategy for innovation. He works independently, with artists and non-profits worldwide, and is frequently commissioned to develop collections for design-driven brands. Burks headed the Crafting Diversity project Berea College. He worked with students to design products for the Student Craft Program, ensuring that the amazing diversity of Berea’s student body was represented in the craft they created. In addition to his work with Berea College, Burks works with Harvard University as a Design Critic in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Engineering program and as an Expert-In-Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab.
CRAFT IN AMERICA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing original handcrafted work through the Peabody Award-winning documentary series on PBS nationwide and the free-to-the-public Craft in America Center in Los Angeles. With 25 episodes produced since 2007, CRAFT INAMERICA takes viewers on a journey to the artists, origins and techniques of American craft. Each episode contains stories from diverse regions and cultures, blending history with living practice and exploring issues of identity, ritual, philosophy and creative expression. Our websites craftinamerica.org and pbs.org/craftinamerica provide all episodes, hundreds of online videos and interactive learning materials, as well as object exhibitions, artist information, and the Random House book Craft in America: Celebrating Two Centuries of Artists and Objects and other Craft in America publications.
The Craft in America Center is an exhibition and learning space in Los Angeles. We give voice to traditional and contemporary craft through artist talks, K-12 education programs, workshops, exhibits and concerts. Our reference library contains over three thousand books and videos and is free to the public. We invite you to stop in and to join us for upcoming events and exhibitions – 8415 W. Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90048.
For more about Craft in America:
DEMOCRACY Press Images: dropbox.com/sh/1ycckh06jsxm284/AABmL6i2-1KqNBd_gdBbwnOga?dl=0