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Craft in Philadelphia

Sectional Brooch
Sectional Brooch, 1970
Albert Paley, American
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Crafts in wood, glass, fiber, ceramics, and metal have a long tradition in Philadelphia, reaching back several centuries. In the years after World War II, however, contemporary artists working in these mediums increasingly emphasized the individual, handmade character of their work as an alternative to mass-produced consumer goods. By the mid-1960s, Philadelphia had become a vital center for the craft movement, inspired in part by local innovators such as the woodworker Wharton Esherick (whose extraordinary music room of 1936–37 from the Curtis Bok house is preserved at the Museum through the help of the Women’s Committee). Area artists also formed the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen in 1967.

Many careers, of both students and faculty, have been fostered by the region’s impressive array of art schools, including Drexel University, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia University, Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and the University of the Arts. Major exhibitions of contemporary crafts that further promoted the movement were held in Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a role now filled in large part by
the Craft Show.