Born in Georgetown, Guyana, Gavin Benjamin lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA as a multifaceted artist with backgrounds in commercial photography, painting, printmaking, and interior and product design.
His work combines original analog photography and appropriated images with collage, paint, varnish, and Swarovski crystals to create a mash-up of couture art. Benjamin is highly influenced by the way culture, media, politics, fashion, and design intersect, and his work asks questions that continue to confront a man of color in America today.
Jason Forck is a Pittsburgh-based artist working primarily in glass. Raised on a small Kansas farm, his work explores the often understated and overlooked beauty of the rural Americana landscape.
Forck currently works as Creative Projects Director at Pittsburgh Glass Center where he designs functional tableware as well as custom lighting for architectural projects. His past exhibitions include the Westmoreland Museum of Art, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, SOFA Chicago, and The Muskegon Museum of Art.
Ceramic artist George Bowes was born in Toledo, OH, and currently lives in Galveston, TX. Bowes imbues both functional vessels and sculptural objects with bold pronouncements on the many ironies of humanity, society, and politics. Occasionally biting, endlessly quick-witted, the sentiments always elicit lively reactions. His distinctive use of bold color and vivid pattern on vessels for home use speak of his ideas of beauty and vitality and live as a refreshing island in the landscape of functional art.
Bowes graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a B.F.A. (1984) and the University of California, Davis with an M.F.A. (2001). He has received multiple Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and an Arts Midwest/NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award. His works reside in public and private collections that include the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum.
George Bowes is one of the exhibiting artists featured at Contemporary Craft’s Satellite Gallery, BNY Mellon Center, downtown Pittsburgh.
JOAN IVERSEN GOSWELL
Joan Iversen Goswell is a book artist living in Valencia, PA. She studied calligraphy with Elizabeth Houston at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and classic hand bookbinding with Jean Gunner at Hunt Library, Carnegie-Mellon University.
Her artwork is unique, running from traditional leather bindings to contemporary bindings of diverse materials. Lettering and many of her images are created from hand-cut eraser stamps. Goswell also incorporates digital representations, collage, odd materials such as feathers, wood, wire, beads, brass strips, pellet guns, horsehair, and in the case of one series of books — pebbles, seashells, and a tiny skeletal remain. Her books have been exhibited internationally in Austria, United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, and Switzerland and regionally at the Andy Warhol Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art.
Goswell’s works are in important collections including The Sackner Archive, Miami Beach, FL; The Yves Klein Archive, Paris, France; The Arthur Jaffe Collection, Boca Raton, FL and the Jack Ginsburg Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa.
HOLLY HANESSIAN & MICHAEL AUSTIN DIAZ
Holly Hanessian is a Professor of Art at Florida State University where she is the area head of ceramics. Her artwork and studio practice is tied to systems and the human experience, our senses, social strata structures, and historical repeated actions that systemically (like genocide) tie us together. Projects vary from our social behavior and need to touch, to how food insecurity is propagated by inequity in farming systems, how genocide has been repeated throughout the beginning of human history, and how the pharmaceutical industry has whetted our appetite for prescription pills for physical discomfort.
Hanessian has shown her artwork extensively in the US and internationally in Italy, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, England, and Canada. Residencies include the Archie Bray Foundation and the International Ceramic Research Center: Guldagageraand among others. Hanessian is a member of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective, Artaxis.org, and the International Academy of Ceramics.
Michael Austin Diaz is an interdisciplinary artist and designer from the US. His practice explores landscape and local identity through social engagement, fieldwork, and material culture. His individual and collaborative projects are realized through public interventions and gallery installations, and utilize the disciplines of art and design to generate meaningful dialogue and community development.
Stefanie Herr was born in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, and is currently based in Barcelona, Spain. A visual artist, Herr is best known for her intricately hand-crafted photo sculptures. Having graduated in Architecture from Technische Universität Berlin in 2001, she initially worked as an architect and passionate model maker until she decided to change career paths in 2007.
Herr’s experimental art practice oscillates between the domains of photography and sculpture. Leaving clear hints of her architectural background, the artist takes a precise and labor-intensive approach in her making. Drawing inspiration from maps, charts, and graphs, her cardboard constructions are accurate topographic representations of the underlying data. The topographic condition of her artworks reflects the artist’s continuing preoccupation with environmental and landscape change. The appropriation and commodification of nature are recurring themes encountered in her artistic creations.
Herr’s delicate handiwork has been featured in numerous group and solo shows across Europe. She was shortlisted for the 2017 ArtFAD Contemporary Art and Craft Awards and for the 2015 Fundació Vila Casas Sculpture Award, amongst others.
Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. is a letterpress printer, papermaker, and builder of artist’s books currently based in Detroit, MI. Kennedy uses the early technology of the letterpress printer to produce works reflecting contemporary social concerns. His chipboard posters with messages reflect his views on issues of community health, power, race, and identity. Emotionally resonant, Kennedy’s work embodies the passion and encourages people to think in previously unexplored ways.
Kennedy earned his MFA in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997 and has gone on to lecture and teach around the world. In 2015, Kennedy has named a United States Artist Glasgow Fellow; recognition as one of America’s most accomplished and innovative artists.
As a storyteller, Patty Kennedy-Zafred creates thought-provoking narratives using fabric, dyes, silkscreens, and ink to develop a visual dialogue with the viewer. Each piece is conceived through the lens of individual experiences, memories, or perspectives. Her quilts marry a lifelong fascination with photography, history, and stitch, often reflecting faces of pride and dignity, sometimes under challenging circumstances. The intent is that the technical and physical demand creating them is lost on the audience, as they focus entirely on the nuance or intrigue of the story, transported to another time or place.
Educated in journalism and photography, the making of art has been a prolonged exercise in trial and error, self-teaching, and study. The stories expressed, whether historical or personal, reflect upon our diverse American fabric, possibly reminding the viewer of someone or something they may have forgotten, compelling them to linger, just a moment longer.
Kennedy-Zafred is one of the exhibiting artists featured at Contemporary Craft’s Satellite Gallery, BNY Mellon Center, downtown Pittsburgh.
Anna Metcalfe stayed to live and work in Minneapolis, MN after receiving her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2009. Interested in the junction of public art and craft, Metcalfe’s work is inspired by water, agriculture, food, and community. As a teaching artist, Metcalfe promotes collaboration and interdisciplinary learning environments between communities, artists, and scientists.
Metcalfe is a recipient of a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artists Project Grant for Public Art in 2009, a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, a Jerome Foundation Study and Travel Grant in 2013, and most recently, an FY 2015 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.
XENA NI & MOLLIE RUSKIN
Xena Ni is a designer, organizer, and artist who believes in public institutions that work for everybody. To that end, she has spent the majority of her 10-year design career transforming public services.
As Director of Design at Alloy, a tech start-up, she led the design and research team behind election protection and voter registration services for progressive campaigns and causes. While a Design Manager at Nava PBC, she launched improvements to HealthCare.gov and simplified public benefit applications with the state of Vermont. Before that, Ni served as a Code for America Fellow after co-founding Propel, a civic technology start-up. Throughout all of this, she makes art to advocate for equitable public policy. Ni’s installations have been written up in CityLab, the Washingtonian, and the Washington Post.
Mollie Ruskin is a multi-media artist and an independent designer with roots in activism and social justice movements. Sometimes with paint, sometimes with a pen, sometimes with big elaborate multi-media installations, her creative work is ever unfolding. Ruskin seeks to use her art to bring nuance and new perspectives to conversations around freedom and justice.
A founding member of the United States Digital Service in the Obama White House, Ruskin has a rich background in civic tech and design, with the aim of improving the government’s ability to deliver human-centered services for the American people. Her design work ranges from deep qualitative user research to creative direction and visual design to user experience, product, and service design. Ruskin serves on the board of the Alliance for Youth Action, a national network of organizations building the political power of young people in the U.S, and is a co-founder of Design Gigs for Good, a job board for designers looking to put their skills to work for world betterment.
JEFF SCHMUKI & WENDY DESCHENE
Artists Jeff Schmuki (USA) and Wendy DesChene (Canada) operate under the guise of PlantBot Genetics Inc., a parody of Big Agricultural Firms who skillfully manipulate current food production and distribution systems. Each has prior experience and awards as solo artists before forming their collaboration and both were raised with strong connections to the land around them.
PlantBot Genetics has exhibited and/or completed projects at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA; the Pulitzer Foundation for Art in St Louis, MO; and the Goethe Institute of Cairo, Egypt. Recent exhibitions include Biophillia at the Ballator-Thompson Gallery of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University in Hollins, VA. Foodture at the Elaine L Jacob Gallery of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; the Moth Project at the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art in Rock Island, IL; and artist lectures and studio visits at Long Island University in Brookville, NY.
MICHAEL LOGAN WOODLE
Michael Logan Woodle is a silversmith and educator who is the 7th generation to live on a family farm in Conway, SC. He earned a B.F.A. in sculpture from Winthrop University in 2009 and an M.F.A. in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2012.
Today you can find Woodle teaching all things three-dimensional at Coastal Carolina University. His work deals with the relationship between identity, property, and generational wealth and has been featured in galleries and museums across the country. He is also an avid hunter, farmer, and father.