From the Ground Up: Peters Valley School of Craft

Highlighting the impact and history of Peters Valley School of Craft, featuring over 75 works in various mediums and on-site artist residencies.

October 4, 2020 – January 10, 2021

Hunterdon Art Museum is pleased to present, “From the Ground Up,” the first-ever exhibition examining Peters Valley‘s fifty-year history and key moments that have defined the institution – from its earliest formation as an experimental craft colony, to the building of its renowned Japanese wood-fired or Anagama kiln in 1980, to the prominence of women blacksmiths at Peters Valley in the early 2000s.

The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Essner. “From the Ground Up” will combine historical ephemera with significant works in fiber, jewelry, ceramics, wood, photography, and metal by artists involved at Peters Valley, as well as on-site artist residencies to allow further engagement with artists working in craft-based materials.

“We’ve been working with the Hunterdon Art Museum and Essner for the past two years to ensure this milestone exhibition includes pieces that communicate the rich history and development of contemporary craft in America,” says Peters Valley Executive Director Kristin Muller. “The interactive artist residencies will also exemplify to visitors the experiential aspects of Peters Valley’s immersive studio workshops.”

Selected artists whose work will be in the exhibition are Vivian Beer, Bruce Dehnert, Fawn Navasie, Luci Jockel, Kirk Mangus, Emil Milan, Shiro Otani, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Stephen Shore, Toshiko Takaezu, Louise Todd Cope, MJ Tyson, and Andrew Willner.

“I’m thrilled to be able to shed light on so many stories of artistic transformation that have happened at Peters Valley. The school has engaged hundreds of artists and thousands of students over its fifty-year history, yet its story has never been told,” says curator Elizabeth Essner. “‘From the Ground Up’ captures the vital spirit and historic contributions of this important craft institution.”

Artist residencies during the exhibition will include weaver Cynthia Alberto and her Brooklyn-based weaving studio Weaving Hand, jeweler Lauren Eckert and woodworker Janine Wang.

Set in the wooded landscape of the Delaware Water Gap National Park in Layton, NJ, Peters Valley was first proposed in 1970 as a planned colony of artists and craftspeople. The resident blacksmiths, ceramists, fiber artists, metalsmiths, woodworkers, and photographers who populated the site’s 18th and 19th-century buildings created a vibrant community engaged in creating. Over time, as Peters Valley’s educational mission moved from the margins to the center, it grew into the craft school it is today, which brings together artists of local, national, and international renown with students for immersive materials-based workshops.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Holt Family Foundation, Hunterdon County Cultural & Heritage CommissionThe Large Foundation, and other corporations, foundations, and individuals. The Hunterdon Art Museum is a wheelchair accessible space. Publications are available in large print. Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TTY) 1 (800) 852-7899

Exhibition Credits

This exhibition was made possible in part by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or NJCH.  Additional support for this exhibition was provided by the Windgate Foundation, the Marie and John Zimmermann Fund. The exhibition catalogue was funded by the Windgate Foundation and John Sheridan and Andrea DuFlon.