Craft Alliance Celebrates 50-Year Anniversary With Yearlong Events, Scholarships and Specials in 2014

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

“Turning 50 is actually a very sobering occasion,” says Boo McLoughlin, Executive Director of Craft Alliance. In fact, with arts funding getting harder and harder to come by, some might say that for an organization that concentrates solely on contemporary craft—with an arguably limited audience—to not only survive for 50 years but thrive is downright remarkable. They’ll honor the achievement with a year-long celebration featuring discounts on classes, memberships and a variety of festive special events and craft-centric exhibits designed to increase awareness and participation in Craft Alliance’s myriad programs.

 “Nesting Teapot #1284” by Deborah Muhl will be on display in Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition at Craft Alliance Courtesy of the Artist

“Nesting Teapot #1284” by Deborah Muhl will be on display in Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition at Craft Alliance
Courtesy of the Artist

There’s no denying that Craft Alliance has had an impact on the region. Whether by taking classes, visiting one of their exhibits, buying art from their gallery shop or taking part in any of their free community programs, nearly 60,000 people are served by the organization each year. Ever since its founding in 1964 by a group of 15 artists who shared their skills with city kids, outreach has been a keystone of their mission. “We’ve always had a robust outreach program,” McLoughlin says. “You can take classes here whether you can pay or not, thanks to the generosity of donors.”

Another factor in Craft Alliance’s continued growth is their drive to experiment with new ideas and adopt new technologies, and their studios have been updated accordingly, including a graphics studio where students can solve complicated design problems with 3-D printers, a fashion lab and fashion design curriculum, and Global Studios technology that allows students to interact with fellow artists working anywhere in the world.

Not only is CA bringing in new tools and technicality—like maker bots—they’re also breaking new ground with craft site-specific installations, and their exhibitions have exposed visitors to contemporary craft from leading regional, national and international artists.

The primary goal of the year-long celebration is to engage more members of the community with Craft Alliance, and they’re offering both big and small events to appeal to all tastes and interests, whether it’s a grand Ball or parking lot events with beer and food trucks.

McLoughlin maintains there is something deeply ancient and vital in practicing craft as an art form, beyond the connectedness students experience with their classmates as well as themselves. The current makers movement sweeping the country is a testament to McLoughlin’s philosophy. “People are drawn to beautiful things and have, through the course of history, been making things with their hands,” McLoughlin says. “We involve people in the making of art.”

Scholarships and Discounts:
To celebrate, Craft Alliance is debuting the Alison and John Ferring Scholarship Fund which provides 150 new scholarships to children and adults for classes, workshops and camps, $50 workshops, and $50 family memberships which normally cost $75.

Events:
Although events are still being planned and will be added throughout the year, some of the largest events are already on the calendar for 2014.

Jan. 10 through Mar. 23, “Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition” at Craft Alliance in the Delmar Loop will feature more than 50 artist-created teapots made of clay, glass, metal, fiber and wood. The opening reception is Friday, Jan. 10 from 6-8pm. FREE

April 4 – June 15, “Good As Gold” at Craft Alliance in the Delmar Loop celebrates their golden anniversary with a multimedia show that examines a multitude of works that utilize the material and color of gold. FREE

April 12, The ARTrageous GOLD Ball at the Palladium celebrates Craft Alliance’s 50th Anniversary from 6-11pm.

May 2 – June 8, “St. Louis Collects: A Passion for Contemporary Craft” at Craft Alliance in Grand Center features works selected from the important St. Louis collections of contemporary craft. Opening reception is Friday, May 2, 6-8pm. FREE

For more information, visit the Craft Alliance website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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