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Syd Carpenter! Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Clay Studio, Gees Bend, and Opportunity!

Many congratulations to Syd Carpenter, artist of enormous talent, dedication and generosity, and now, a Fellow in the College of Fellows, American Craft Council! Also, we are interested in the reshuffling and upstaffing at the PMA and wonder what will change. Congratulations also to The Clay Studio, celebrating 50 years, and check out your favorite Target for products collaboratively made with Gees Bend quilters. Enjoy the News! Check out the Opportunity! And see you next week!



A Black woman wearing glasses smiles at you, her short hair a halo around her head and her silver and gold earrings, pink lipstick and light green v-neck sweater pointing to a friendly, stylish and empowered Black woman you would like to meet.
Artist Syd Carpenter. Photo courtesy of the American Craft Council

Syd Carpenter, a sculptor working in clay and mixed media from Philadelphia named to American Craft Council’s College of Fellows

2024 American Craft Council Award Honorees

Nick Cave (Chicago, IL)
Wendy Maruyama (San Diego, CA)
Anne Wilson (Evanston, IL)

Syd Carpenter (Philadelphia, PA)
Michael A. Cummings (New York City, NY)
Einar and Jamex De La Torre (San Diego, CA)
Yuri Kobayashi (Camden, ME)
Mark Newport (Hamtramck, MI)
Michael Puryear (Shokan, NY)
Diego Romero (Santa Fe, NM)
Lynda Watson (Santa Cruz, CA)

Diana Baird N’Diaye, Ph.D. (Cheverly, MD), Cultural Specialist and Curator, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Cindi Strauss (Houston, TX), Sara and Bill Morgan Curator of Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

JoAnn Edwards (San Francisco, CA), Co-Founder and Executive Director, Museum of Craft and Design
Carol Sauvion (Beverly Hills, CA), Founder and Director, Craft in America

Charles “Chuck” Duddingston (Minneapolis, MN)

Minneapolis, MN (January 23, 2024) – The American Craft Council (ACC), a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing American craft, announced today the winners of its four major awards. This year marks the 54th year of the awards honoring individuals and organizations for exceptional artistic, scholarly and philanthropic contributions to the craft field. First presented in 1970, and biennially since 2010, the ACC Awards include the College of Fellows, the Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship, the Award of Distinction, and the Aileen Osborn Webb Award for Philanthropy…ACC shares stories and amplifies voices through American Craft magazine and other online content, creates marketplace events that support artists and connect people to craft, and celebrates craft’s legacy through longstanding awards and a unique research library. A range of other programs creates space for dialogue and action—because ACC believes craft can bring us together as people. Learn more at

About Syd Carpenter
Syd Carpenter, of Philadelphia, PA, is a sculptor working in clay and mixed media. She focuses on African American farms and gardens as a source of form and content attributing this interest to her mother, Ernestine and grandmother, Indiana Hutson, both of whom were master gardeners. After leaving graduate school she and her husband Steve Donegan founded the 915 Spring Garden Studio Building, a facility for over 100 artists. There she began producing ceramic sculptures now included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, Montreal Museum of Art, Swedish National Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Tang Museum of Skidmore College, RISD Museum of Art, Fuller Craft Museum, James Michener Museum and the Woodmere Art Museum. Her awards include the United States Artists Fellowship, Anonymous Was a Woman, Pew Fellowship in the Arts, National Endowment in the Arts. Visit the artist’s website for more.

[See more Artblog coverage of Syd Carpenter: By Andrea Kirsh (2022); By Jennifer Zarro (20214). Listen to an Artblog Radio interview with Syd from 2012.]

Philadelphia Museum of Art adds Curator, Eleanor Nairne, buys local art and consolidates departments

From the Philadelphia Inquirer article by Peter Dobrin on Jan. 24, 2024.

A fresh pair of acquisitions, a newly endowed position, and a recently appointed chief are boosting the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s focus on modern and contemporary art.

Eleanor Nairne, formerly senior curator at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, has been named curator and head of the Art Museum’s newly reconfigured department of modern and contemporary art. The London-born curator, the daughter of two art historians, hopes to take up her Philadelphia post sometime in February…

Separately, the museum announced that PMA trustees Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer have endowed a new position within the department: a full-time curator of modern and contemporary design. The spot is expected to be filled after Nairne’s arrival.

Additionally, the Art Museum recently acquired two new works, both by Philadelphia artists: Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I – The Visions, a 2014 installation of photographs, videos, and objects; and Alex Da Corte’s ROY G BIV, a video work projected onto a large cube. Neither work is currently on display…

Eleanor Nairne arrives in Philadelphia amid a newly reconfigured curatorial structure established in September.

“Departments were not really talking to each other sufficiently,” said Basualdo. “And when Sasha asked me to become the chief curator, it was even more evident that although there were conversations and some very good conversations, they were mostly [a result of] personal affinity. But there wasn’t a structure, a channel by which those conversations could be articulated.”

Now, the South Asian and East Asia art departments have become Asian Art; the European painting and sculpture and European decorative art departments became European Art; and the modern specialists in American and European decorative arts and European painting are now part of the modern and contemporary art department.

In all, eight departments became six, and no jobs were eliminated in the reorganization, a museum spokesperson said.

“At the center of all this is trying to develop a more collaborative approach among curators,” says Basualdo, “but also between curators and other people in the museum — conservators, marketing — basically trying to create a different culture in terms of collaboration.”

A screenshot from a Target website shows a small quilted zipper pouch made in collaboration with the Gees Bend quilters that is for sale for $5 as part of their Black History Month celebration.

Gees Bend Quilters collaborate with Target

Yes, it’s true. See the product line here.

Hats off to Target, which has been collaborating with designers for more than 20 years now.


The Clay Studio
50th Anniversary Launch Party
New Date – January 28th from 2pm – 5pm
Register here

We will kick off our year of anniversary programming with remarks, cake, and three new exhibitions opening: Founders and Foundations, Claymobile Creations, and Flow: Current Residents. More about those exhibitions at The Clay Studio website.


Vox Populi 2024 National Open Call for Artists OUTSIDE Philadelphia – DUE JAN 31, 2024

Vox Populi is accepting applications for a guest artists residency in August with an exhibition in Sept/Oct 2024. …Vox Populi is interested in exhibitions by national artists from outside the larger Philadelphia area (outside a 50 mile radius).
The applications are available via SlideRoom. A floor plan of Vox Populi’s gallery spaces is available here. Applications CLOSE JAN. 31, 2024. More information and submit HERE