Modern Makers Exhibition at Kutztown University

Modern Makers Opening at Kutztown University.
Modern Makers Opening at Kutztown University.

Yesterday the Modern Makers: 21st Century Craft in Berks and Lehigh Counties exhibition opened at the Marlin & Regina Miller Gallery at Kutztown University.

Blue Aussie #1229 ©2005 Deborah Mull sweet grass, rayon ribbon, waxed Irish linen
Blue Aussie #1229 ©2005 Deborah Mull sweet grass, rayon ribbon, waxed Irish linen

Modern Makers features the work of some of our area’s most prominent metalsmiths, ceramicists, furniture makers, weavers, and textile artists. Working in a very modern style with cutting edge techniques, these craftsmen are pushing the idea of “craft” in a region well known for its traditional folk art. Many of the featured artists are affiliated with the university as alumni, faculty emeriti, and student mentors. This exhibition emphasizes Kutztown University’s commitment to the excellence of craft on our campus and throughout the region.

Featuring: Lisa and Scott Cylinder, Janna Gregonis, Jeff Kleckner, Bill Kreider, Debora Muhl, Barbara Schulman, Willi Singleton, Wendy Stevens, E. Douglas Wunder

Pin P75-P and Object P74-P ©2010 E. Douglas Wunder, titanium, sterling silver
Pin P75-P and Object P74-P ©2010 E. Douglas Wunder, titanium, sterling silver (I just love the greys of the titanium in these pieces!)

The work included in this exhibition is top level and I’ve seen a number of the participants in magazines such as American Craft, American Style, and Ornament. It’s a good mix of various media and styles, running the gamut of contemporary, recycled, industrial, and whimsical. Wendy Stevens purses are even design heavy fashion pieces that grace runways and the pages of Vogue.

Stadium Bracelet #2 ©2012 E. Douglas Wunder, titanium, sterling silver (there is a hinge component in this bracelet making it totally wearable.)
Stadium Bracelet #2 ©2012 E. Douglas Wunder, titanium, sterling silver (there is a hinge component in this bracelet making it totally wearable.)

Of course I was drawn to the metalwork and there was a delightful mix to occupy my eyes. I was able to meet E. Douglas Wunder whose work I had seen at Craft Forms. He uses rivets like I do, only his take is completely different. His pieces have a clean, industrial or architectural feel. There are multiple layers, most of which are hand cut, riveted one atop the other, creating 3D technical masterpieces. I love that he included technical drawings for each of his pieces.

A collection of jewelry pieces by Janna Gregonis featuring enameled steel, sterling silver, and black and white porcelain.
A collection of jewelry pieces by Janna Gregonis featuring enameled steel, sterling silver, and black and white porcelain.

As a counterpoint to his work, Janna Gregonis’ pieces were wonderfully organic. She uses enameled steel, sterling silver and porcelain to create fine jewelry out of non-precious materials. The black and white starkness helped keep the rusticness of the enamel from being too much. I also liked the way she’d put highlights of a gold element here and a diamond briolette there to add to the sense of preciousness.

There were some great vessel forms that also drew me in. Deborah Mulls sculptural baskets have always been a favorite of mine. I love the parts that just out and then rejoin the main forms and the asymmetry of the shapes. They’re wobbly and angular and seem to be barely contained in their forms.

Two Faceted Tea Bowls & Faceted Tower Jar ©2010-2013 Jeffrey Kleckner, porcelain
Two Faceted Tea Bowls & Faceted Tower Jar ©2010-2013 Jeffrey Kleckner, porcelain

The ceramic forms of Jeffrey Kleckner had a simple, Asian flare to them, but then the facets added an interesting twist on these traditional forms. The other potter, Willi Singleton would also take simple, traditional type shapes and either blow them up into large shapes or make simple, elegant cuts that would break up the forms.

I enjoyed the work by the other artists as well, but I need to leave with interest piqued. This exhibition runs through November 22nd, 2013. On October 21 at 6:30pm, there will be a Masters of Metal talk with Lisa & Scott Cylinder and there is also a closing reception on November 22nd from 4-6pm. I highly recommend you visit this exhibition and see excellent quality of work happening in these two counties of Pennsylvania.