Is it “craft” or “fine art?” This old distinction is blurred in “Ten Years of Master Craft Artists” at the Fuller Craft Museum. Five craftspersons from the Maine Crafts Association exhibit works that are traditionally utilitarian, while 12 others look more like fine art.
Tom Ferrero deserves the “Master Craft Artist, 2019” award he received for his “Collar of the Chancellor,” a silver and steel necklace. This circular, sculptural piece may be worn as a necklace, or the collar could be used as a table decoration surrounding a floral bouquet. Ferrero states that his inspiration derives from “Star Wars” movies. However, the basic motif of embellished leaves or shields surrounded by engraved grain stalks also recalls the Art Nouveau movement and Tiffany designs.
“Traditional Maine Birchbark Canoe” by Steve Cayard is a functional, full-scale canoe in the traditional style of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Song of Hiawatha,” Hiawatha sings, “A light canoe will build me, Build a swift Cheemaun for sailing, That shall float upon the river, Like a yellow leaf in Autumn, Like a yellow waterlily!” Hiawatha and Cayard could have collaborated on this canoe! Exquisitely constructed in every detail, the canoe glows golden yellow from the sanded white birch, cedar and maple woods. The sides are decorated with wave-like stencils.
A “Snow Glider,” for children, made in 1986 by Christian Becksvoort, is another working vehicle. Ash, brass and leather make up the elegant sled. The process for bending the ash into “S” curves is particularly challenging as is the padded leather seating. The sled was made to be functional, long-lasting and glide.
Paul Heroux makes beautiful practical objects. His three ceramic stoneware boxes are decorative as well as useful. “Golden Brown Box” immediately recalls the ceramic works of the Japanese Momoyama period (1573- 1615). Heroux has total control over the complex glazing process with different design patterns on each box side. Like their Japanese prototypes, the boxes would best be the repository for precious jewels, elixirs and combs.