Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman, 2008 January 22-February 23

Kaufman, Glen, 1932-

Art teacher, Fiber artist


Collection Information

Size: 12 Items, Sound recording: 12 sound files (5 hr., 29 min.); 86 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded as 4 minidiscs as 12 digital sound files. Duration is 5 hr., 29 min.

Summary: Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman conducted 2008 January 22 and February 23 by Josephine Shea, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America at Kaufman's home in Athens, Georgia.
Kaufman speaks of his childhood in Chicago; earning his B.A. in education in Wisconsin and meeting his wife; joining the ROTC and moving to Ohio; attending Cranbrook Academy of Art; living and studying in Denmark; traveling through Western Europe; working at the Liebes Studio in New York; teaching at Cranbrook for about 40 years; working in Japan; using metal leaf and wax in his art; moving from large to miniature textiles; his glove exhibition; visiting India; gallery exhibitions in Japan; the difference between university-trained artists and artisans; the impact of travel and international influences on his work; the art community in Kyoto; using Japanese dancers in his exhibitions; incorporating traditional Korean and Japanese materials and techniques into his work. Kaufman also recalls Charlene Page, Bill Thompson, Maija Grotell, Marianne Strengell, Dorothy Liebes, Jack Lenor Larsen, Meda Parker Johnston, Earl McCutchen, Ed Lambert, Mildred Constantine, Louise Allrich, Ed Rossbach, Camille Cook, and others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Glen Kaufman (1932- ) is a textile artist who lives and works in Athens, Georgia and Kyoto, Japan. Josephine Shea (1958- ) is curator of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Detroit, Michigan.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Glen Kaufman on January 22 and February 23, 2008. The interview took place in Athens, Georgia, and was conducted by Josephine Shea for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.

Glen Kaufman has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


JOSEPHINE SHEA: This is Josephine Shea. I'm sitting here with Glen Kaufman at his home in Athens, Georgia, on January 22 [2008], the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, in Athens, Georgia, which is about an hour and a half from Atlanta, for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and this is disc one of we don't know how many discs.

[END CD 1 TR 1.]    

Traditionally, we begin these by talking about — asking the question, when and where were you born?

GLEN KAUFMAN: I was born in southern Wisconsin in a small town named Fort Atkinson, about 35 miles south of —

[END CD 1 TR 2.]

—and west of Madison, the capital, named after General Atkinson, who was a famous general in the Blackhawk—

[END CD 1 TR 3.]

—Indian Wars. And there was a fort actually built in this town; thus the name.

MS. SHEA: And did I get the date?

MR. KAUFMAN: The date of birth? [They laugh.] Oh, confession time. Honesty must rule — 1932.

MS. SHEA: Nineteen thirty-two. Tell me about your family, whether you were a first child, an only child?

MR. KAUFMAN: My mother grew up in Chicago. She was an honest-to-God flapper who —

MS. SHEA: Oh, really?

MR. KAUFMAN: — did the Charleston, who taught dancing at various ballrooms in Chicago. My father grew up, basically, in Wisconsin. For many years he — at the time they met, he was certainly a carpenter, cabinet maker, commercial fisherman, a variety of combination of activities. They met when my mother's family was vacationing someplace near Fort Atkinson in the early '30s. And he built this fabulous new house for her. In a kind of — I don't know exactly how to describe it; it had certain Tudor aspects. It had a huge, gallery-type living room with 20-foot ceilings, little balconies at each end, and really quite a grand place.

So that's sort of the background. My father had not finished very much elementary school before he was needed for working on a farm. He had an older brother a few years older than he, and the older brother had purchased a farm, at some time prior to this house being built, on the outskirts of Fort Atkinson. So I really grew up very much on the outskirts of town, and across the street was a working farm.

The farm that my uncle purchased [had] quite a bit of land, and he had planted an orchard. So we had orchards and, sort of, an outdoors aspect.

And I was born in '32. I have a sister six years younger than I am, and grew up in this sort of rural, partly rural town of about, at that time, maybe four to 5,000. It's grown a little bit bigger since then. But that's sort of the milieu in which I grew up.

MS. SHEA: And was your mother's family from Chicago, or were they originally from Wisconsin or —


MS. SHEA: And what did they think about their big-city daughter moving to —

MR. KAUFMAN: That's a very good question. That whole family was Bohemian. And I have recently been tracing my Bohemian roots in Czech Republic this last summer. So I grew up in a very ethnically oriented family, in terms of the Chicago relatives. So I'm sure they were a bit surprised that she would move away from the city, because all of her siblings stayed there in Chicago. She had an older sister who was more like a grandmother to me, because there was a great difference in age in these seven siblings. And then there were two girls and five boys in between, so I had lots of aunts and uncles. Well, I had one aunt and many uncles in Chicago.

And I think the fact that I spent a good bit of childhood time in Chicago may have had some influence on my later involvement with art, because my aunt and my mother — I had a cousin just a year or so older than I was, so Bruce and I were always together. And they took us everywhere; you know, the Art Institute [of Chicago], the [John G. Shedd] Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Brookfield Zoo, Marshall Fields. So I had this kind of other experience which was so different from Wisconsin and the small town I grew up in. So I think that had — as I look back on it, I think that had really a strong impact on my thinking about what the world was and what existed out there.

Then at home, there was also a very tight family. My uncle's family, I had two cousins older than I, six or seven years older. And I still keep — only one is living now, and I keep close touch with her. So that was also a tight family situation. The two brothers, sisters-in-law, and the cousins always had holidays together.

And there was a kind of pilgrimage up to my aunt's house every Sunday. She'd be baking cookies or something. So there was a very strong family feeling in both places, one where I was living and the other where I visited Christmas, and usually sometime in the summertime we would visit Chicago for a week or so. And then when I was older and able to go on my own, I got on a Greyhound bus and went down to Chicago myself.

MS. SHEA: Because I was going to ask, did you go by train or —

MR. KAUFMAN: We always drove —

MS. SHEA: You drove.

MR. KAUFMAN: — in a 1938 Chevrolet.

MS. SHEA: My goodness. Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: But there was a bus. An uncle and some cousins would come up from Chicago occasionally in the summer by Greyhound bus. But mostly we drove when the family went down. Sometimes my mother drove just the two kids, my sister and I. My father came separately when he was involved in other things. But the whole family drove. We went down at Christmas, for example. We would go together in the old Chevrolet, filled with car smoke, but somehow we survived.

MS. SHEA: So did your father stay kind of in this multiconstruction —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. The commercial fishing was interesting because there's a rather large, shallow lake called Lake Koshkonong, which comes from some Indian word, Blackhawk Indian word, which had a lot of carp. And there was a market for carp, especially among the Jewish population in Chicago. So that was one of his activities. And I think it may have been seasonal. You know, I wasn't really old enough to remember that, except going to the lake and hearing tales about it.

But at that time he was, I think, much more involved in construction, carpentry, cabinet making. And eventually he developed his own construction company and built many houses around Fort Atkinson. And as a high school guy and as a university student over the summer, I had a lot of experience in construction, too.

MS. SHEA: I was going to ask, did you help him out —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes.

MS. SHEA: — willingly or — [laughs].

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, the idea was that this was a ready-made job for me. Well, there's another aspect of family business, too. But it was a ready-made job for me, and I could save money for school. So it all made sense.

In addition to that, my uncle also was an entrepreneur of sorts. He was first a rural mail carrier, which he did on a daily basis. Then the two brothers came up with this idea of a chicken hatchery; so farmers would bring their eggs in, and they would have the chickens hatched. And then — interesting, this, because of my Japanese connection later — Japanese couples - or I'm not sure, because my memory is not that clear - would come around to sex the chickens. So the females went in this box, and the males went in this box, so that if you were raising laying hens, you wanted the females. If you were raising broilers, you wanted the males.

So that was an activity that mostly my uncle was in charge of, but I think my dad helped out, as well. And then they decided that it would be a good idea for them to raise some chickens themselves, for the family. And then I think, between my aunt and my mother, they decided during the Depression — probably, I don't know, '33, '35 — they needed to do something to raise some extra money, so they sold baked chicken out of their kitchen window, eventually built a small shack on the lawn to sell chicken dinners for 35 cents, and then they built a restaurant, a small restaurant, that was called Kaufman's. And it had maybe, I don't know, 10 tables at first, and then they built a big addition, which tripled the size.

So as a teenager growing up, I also worked in the restaurant in the summers. I was the salad and dessert boy. My dad and uncle were the cooks. And in the early days, my aunt and mother were involved. But later than that, later on, they sort of retired from the restaurant business. And it was basically a summer activity, because we were on Highway 12, which was the main route from Chicago to vacationland in Wisconsin. So we had a lot of tourists stopping. And we had, of course, local customers, as well. But that was a summer activity for me, especially on the weekends, when we were busiest. And I might have done some work during the week, as well. So that was one of my family jobs, and the other one was construction with my dad.

MS. SHEA: And then tell me about school. Was it a very small, rural school?

MR. KAUFMAN: It was a relatively small school. I don't know how many were in our graduating class, about 75. And for reasons which aren't entirely clear to me at this point in my life, I became involved in speech and drama activities. And we always had a speech coach or teacher.

Art was something that I really don't have much memory of, in terms of especially junior high and high school. I know I was very involved in what we called at that time declam, declamation, which we would memorize either something written specifically for that activity or something written by someone famous. And there would be contests, local and then regional and state. And I was involved in that, and also debate. And that, I have more specific memories.

We would go to debate contests in Madison, for example, and have judges there from the speech department at the university. And really that became sort of my extracurricular activity, was in speech. And then we did some school plays. I was in the senior play. We didn't do a lot of plays. But this other activity was ongoing, with declam maybe in spring, and debate more in the fall and winter season.

MS. SHEA: Any sports? Were you involved in sports at all?

MR. KAUFMAN: [Laughs] No, I was not a sports boy. For my father's satisfaction, I went out for football, I think my freshman year — yeah, freshman year in high school. And I was never too happy about it. It was before they were wearing teeth guards, so I was tackled in practice and broke teeth. So I was not a happy football boy.

MS. SHEA: And then you're a little bit taller.


MS. SHEA: Was there a basketball team?

MR. KAUFMAN: There was. I was just not —

MS. SHEA: That wasn't your world.

MR. KAUFMAN: I was not in sports at all, neither there nor — I mean, now I love to hike. I exercise at the gym. But in terms of sports, I've never been — outdoors, yes, but sports specifically, not.

MS. SHEA: Okay. So it sounds like the maybe earliest memories you have of, kind of, formal art would be probably at the Art Institute of Chicago.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes.

MS. SHEA: It sounds like.

MR. KAUFMAN: No. Seeing art is — and when it was time to go to the university, fortunately it was always expected that I would go to the University of Wisconsin [Madison], because it was nearby, and that's what everyone thought of. What I'm fortunate is that it was a great university, and it was a terrific experience. And I was not terribly clear on what that future should be.

My father was insistent that it be something that could earn a living, which one can hardly argue with that. And so I don't know if it was my own initiative. I don't think my parents could have had any idea about this. I went over to the university. I mean, I was accepted, but it wasn't a big deal at that time. There was nothing like SATs. I don't know; you just sent a transcript and maybe a few letters of recommendation. But anyway, there I was.

And before enrolling, I went over and went to some kind of counseling service and took a battery of tests and talked to somebody. And they said, oh, you ought to be a teacher. Teaching is definitely what you ought to be doing. You work with people. You enjoy working with people, and so on and so on. Okay, teaching.

So already speech was on my agenda, and it was again most fortunate that Wisconsin had a very strong speech department at that time, both in terms of speech, in terms of — what do I want to say? There's a term for it. Anyway, I ended up in what was known then as speech — the memory leaves me sometimes — speech correction or speech therapy. Now it's speech pathology. And Wisconsin also had a very good program in that field.

And rather than teaching speech, as my teacher had done in high school — I'm sure she taught English and other things, as well — I decided to take this route, which was involved in working with public school students in whatever speech problem they might have had, whether it was stuttering or lisp or hearing problems or whatever. So it was a rather demanding course. But fortunately, for reasons, again, which I — so many things in my life have sort of just happened to me without a plan. And this will go on through our whole discussion today. I'm sure you'll see that, my saying that.

But I ended up in a program called Integrated Liberal Studies, which took about 100 freshmen. And a good friend of mine from high school, Stanley Krippner, also was in this program. It was a program designed for freshmen who would interact with the top people in a variety of humanities. And we had the top anthropologist, and we had the two Greek and Roman specialists. I wish I could dredge up their names now. And the whole program was designed for us to have contact with these top professors at the university. And it was thrilling and exciting and challenging.

And then, at the same time, I was starting to take my speech courses and became involved in — not that I had been so much involved in theater, but Wisconsin also had a very strong theater program. The Wisconsin Union already existed at that time, with a very contemporary building and a very beautiful stage and backstage area and active theater program, so that I'd tend to gravitate toward the green room and the theater people as a kind of social group to become involved with.

That's where I met my wife [Charlene Page]. She had gone to Western Michigan in Kalamazoo and wanted to go where the best speech program was that was accessible in the Midwest, and so came to Wisconsin to pursue her interests in speech, which weren't at that point, I think, speech correction, but that's where she ended up also, doing a B.A., not in education. Mine was in education, a B.S. in education. So that's where we met, and that's where we found a kind of common ground in speech and theater. And we did backstage work mostly. A few times we were in on-stage productions in small parts. But that was really the activity. And there was a craft shop, and I did get involved in a few things — made Christmas cards one year and did a few other things. But it was never a completely overriding demand on my time.

MS. SHEA: With your background in carpentry, did you do stage sets at all?

MR. KAUFMAN: I did work backstage on that kind of activity, yeah. I don't remember, you know, a lot of specifics about that at the time. I just remember that this group of people, who were actors and backstage people both, were always together and usually helping out with the major productions, doing building or painting or moving sets or whatever was required. But it was a really incredible atmosphere of quality in the theater that was going on at that time, with professors who were demanding directors for the various shows that they put on.

And then, of course, they also had traveling shows that came in. I remember [Alfred] Lunt and [Lynn] Fontanne, who, of course, were Wisconsin residents, came for several different performances.

MS. SHEA: That's right, they have that home.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. I can't remember now.

MS. SHEA: I can't either, but it's supposed to be very beautiful.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, and music events. And, you know, we would stuff envelopes and do all kinds of things in the green room, and became very close to the director of the theater and music program [Fran Taylor]. And then later I was — you know, it was partly governed by a student directorate that dealt with various aspects of union activity. So I ended up as the film chair for my last year.

Another friend was — this is Stanley Krippner I mentioned earlier — was in charge of lectures, and another was in charge of music. Another was in charge of Hoofers, which was the outdoor club, and another was in charge of the craft activity and galleries and so on. So I became involved in that. That was a kind of additional group that I became close and worked with on a fairly constant basis.

MS. SHEA: Now, you mentioned Integrated Liberal Studies. Were the arts, the visual arts, a part of that?

MR. KAUFMAN: I'll try to remember.

MS. SHEA: Apparently, it didn't have a big impact. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: No, I don't think that either music or visual arts were part of that program, which is unfortunate, because we like to think about it as an important part in our undergraduate education here at this university, so that students are required to do either an art-appreciation or music-appreciation or a drama-appreciation course if they're in the college of arts and sciences. But I have no specific memory of that.

MS. SHEA: Now, as you said, you met your wife in this time. What is her name?

MR. KAUFMAN: Charlene. Charlene Page was her maiden name.

MS. SHEA: And is that Page —


MS. SHEA: G-E, just —


MS. SHEA: And you said she was from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

MR. KAUFMAN: She was from Kalamazoo. Her family had lived there a number of years, but also had Ohio connections: her grandparents, her aunt on her maternal side. Her grandparents lived in Ohio, and she had a number of aunts. She had some aunts and uncles also living in Ohio. So we had, over the years, developed this kind of Ohio connection, as well as the Michigan and Wisconsin and Illinois, Chicago, but very Midwest.

MS. SHEA: That must have made interesting football games.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, right, of course.

MS. SHEA: Well, I guess you said you didn't - [laughs].

MR. KAUFMAN: Right. Of course, at Wisconsin we were great Badger fans and, of course, went to all the games and so on.

MS. SHEA: From the Badger to the Bulldog. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, exactly.

MS. SHEA: So you graduated, it says here, in 1954. And you said your B.S. was in education.


MS. SHEA: In teaching or in speech?


MS. SHEA: Teaching.

MR. KAUFMAN: Speech and education, right. And during that time, it was the period of the Korean War, so it was either a matter of being drafted, or if you were a university student, you had the option of joining ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] and serving as an officer when you graduated. So those among my friends who didn't have some physical disability were ROTC. And I was in the air force, and had weekly classes, and went to summer camp in Texas for a couple of weeks; drove down with a bunch of guys that I knew from class, from ROTC classes, no one from theater or anything else. This was a whole other group, of military.

And so we went through this training. And then, by '54, the war was over, and so neither our officers nor anyone else knew exactly what was going to happen. So in the meantime, I'm not sure how soon — I don't remember exactly when the war wound down, but I started interviewing for jobs, and interviewed for some jobs in Wisconsin and northern Illinois but never went very far in terms of accepting — I don't remember if I was offered a job or not. But eventually we did find out that, yes, we were obligated to serve two years, as had been the original arrangement.

So I thought, oh, great. Well, so I graduated in June, got married in December of that same year, lived in Kalamazoo for this short time, and then we thought, oh, great, Europe or the Far East or someplace exotic — Columbus, Ohio. It was absolutely the last place we would have selected to be, because Ohio was not high on our list of places that we thought was exciting or interesting.

However, it changed my life, so we couldn't have complained about it. So in early '55, we headed off for Lockbourne Air Force Base, which was a Strategic Air Command base just outside of Columbus, Ohio. And we hadn't known Columbus very well, but we'd known small towns in rural Ohio where the grandparents lived and where at least one of the aunts did. And my wife had an uncle — her father had a brother in Kalamazoo, so we had, you know, kind of family based there, as well.

So we settled into Ohio, and I started working basically a nine-to-five job. There was not — I mean, we were flying B-52s or something all the time during that Cold War era, and we were involved with — I was a training officer. I didn't fly except when my major took me on a few trips, a training officer at a desk.

You know, basically what we did was — one of the things that we did was conduct survival training, so if a plane should go down, that our airmen would know how to survive in the wild. So that was one of the things we did.

But it was basically a nine-to-five job except when we were on alert, and then I would have to stay on base until the alert was over. But basically we had free time. And, you know, after we both had demanding course loads — and I took Spanish, which I loved, and later found out it wasn't a necessity, but I did well in it, and I enjoyed it and had great teachers, so I had a little bit of Spanish under my belt when I left Wisconsin.

So I don't know how we found out about this; probably Char, my wife, who was always an organized person and seldom left things to chance. If there was something that needed to be done, telephone calls that needed to be made, she would do it. So I think she probably found out that there was an art center sponsored by the city of Columbus in an old fire station.

We had lived originally in an apartment sort of on the outskirts of Columbus and had made some good friends there, and we had a little nice community developed of new friends who were in completely different activities than we were. We moved into town in a wonderful old house that had a kind of garret apartment at the top and across from the park. It was a great location.

Anyway, this art center wasn't far away, not that that made a whole lot of difference; we had cars, so we could drive. So we went to see what it was all about, and there was this ceramics program that we were immediately aware of as we walked in the ground floor. And so we had conversations with the teacher there, and it looked good. We knew — I don't know if we had seen any ceramics or not before, but anyway. So we both started studying ceramics, and both of us mastered the wheel - we have a few things around the house someplace from that era — and enjoyed it really a lot and went a lot more than just the class nights, because we had this free time.

Then we kept hearing this thump, thump, thump from the upper level. We said, what is all that racket? Oh, those are the weavers.

MS. SHEA: [Laughs] The weavers.

MR. KAUFMAN: So we eventually went up to see the weavers, and there was this fantastic woman, Twila Alber, who at that time, I'm not sure — one of these ageless people — she probably was in her 60s, a dynamo, enthusiastic beyond anyone's expectations, especially mine. And so, well, this looks interesting. So I think Char joined me for a while, but I don't think she stayed with it for too long.

So there were sort of terms, like a fall term and a spring term. So I started weaving and really loved it. And Twila was very enthusiastic. She's someone who had raised a family. She was a nurse. She had raised a family. She had kids who had left the nest, and then she left, too, to study art. Now, I don't know what her background prior to that was, but she ended up at Cranbrook [Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI] in sculpture. And she — this was some years before I was there, of course. And she also — most of the students at Cranbrook took another — worked in another studio as a kind of minor. I think it probably was — it was definitely encouraged and may have been required.

So she did weaving. And exactly what brought her to Columbus, I don't remember. I'm sure we knew at the time. But she found an opportunity to teach weaving there rather than sculpture, although she continued to do some sculpture, and she presented us with a few of her small works.

So this was incredible to me that this woman, who had raised a family, left them behind — husband, I don't know; "Bye-bye; I'm going off to be an artist" — and it was an incredible inspiration for someone who was just getting feet and hands into these media, and without any kind of art background, enjoying and having a wonderful time.

So time went on, and I did more projects. And she drove me crazy, because I was doing a rather ambitious rug with knotted pile, and she insisted on showing it to everyone who came to the studio. So she would unwind it, which we do occasionally if we have to, but you don't do it a lot, because it started to bulge and get in strange shapes, and so on and so on. I don't even know where the darn thing is now. But during — and we became good friends with her, and we entertained her. She entertained us. We got to know a group of artists there.

A sculptor, Bill Thompson, was at that time teaching at Ohio State University, and he had also been a Cranbrook graduate. So they may have known each other there — both sculpture, both from Cranbrook. And then I may forget it, so I'll throw it in now. When I came to Georgia, Bill Thompson was here teaching sculpture, and did for many years. And he taught until he retired and passed away a few years ago. But he was a great friend, and something that we connected with, you know, later when I ended up here at Georgia.

Anyway, Twila's encouraging, encouraging, encouraging, and finally she said, you know, I think you should apply to Cranbrook. I said, Twila — by this time, because Char's from Kalamazoo, we had traveled to Cranbrook. She knew about Cranbrook. I didn't. So we just did the grounds. And, of course, it's a fantastic place, and loved the architecture. We went to the museum. So I knew something about Cranbrook, that it was the place to study.

I said, Twila, there's no way. I don't have the background. Well, she said, we teach some design courses here. You could take some design courses. And you already have ceramics, and now you're doing weaving. I said, Twila, just forget it. No, she said, no, you're going to apply. I said, okay, well, nothing's to be harmed because I was, I guess, prepared to go back into speech.

So I've got to get together a portfolio. God knows what it looked like. Unfortunately, I don't have it around at all anymore; you know, bad photographs of mediocre work, I felt. But, lo and behold, I was accepted, which was a total shock. And as I say, things just happened to me. I had no grand plan to go to Cranbrook Academy of Art, ever. But there I was, accepted. And I thought, okay, so I'll do a B.F.A., because I don't have any background in art. No, no, no, you're in the master's program. Okay, this is going to be a struggle. But, you know, I know about weaving. I know something about ceramics. And I've learned a little bit about design here.

So when this plan was sort of evolving, then, how are we going to support ourselves, because when I mentioned this to my parents, they were even more wild about this whole crazy idea than I was. And it was obvious we were going to have to finance this one ourselves. So at some point along the way, Char started working for the dean of women's office at Ohio State University and then decided that the thing to do was get a B.S. degree in education — this must have given, at least her, two semesters to do this.

She then — we together, but she offered to do this, to get her education degree, so that when we went to Cranbrook, she could teach speech correction while I was a student. And we managed to do that. At that time, the tuition was at a reasonable amount. I might have gotten some scholarship. I can't remember specifically right now.

So we supported my education and our life in Bloomfield Hills during that period. And, you know, that began a whole new chapter of my life as an artist.

MS. SHEA: I have one question about when you went upstairs and saw the weavers.


MS. SHEA: Was it mostly women weavers?

MR. KAUFMAN: Of course. Of course. I'm sure I was the only man who ever wove there. Yes, definitely, yeah. And somehow that never has been an issue with me, you know, in terms of being a teacher, in terms of being a student. It's always been predominantly women in every situation that I've been in. And it may at some point have given those men of us in the field some kind of advantage.

I'm not sure that holds true anymore, because women have discovered themselves and what they can do. But I think, probably early on, it gave us some advantage in various unspoken ways. You know, it's hard for me to put a finger on it, but I think that may have been the case, although I don't have any hard evidence, nor has there been any study about the success of male weavers.

MS. SHEA: So when you moved up to Cranbrook, did you live on campus or —

MR. KAUFMAN: No, we found this incredible gatehouse in an old estate, sort of west of Cranbrook, not far away, maybe 15 or 20 minutes by car, and not too far from my wife's schools.

MS. SHEA: Where did she teach?

MR. KAUFMAN: She taught in Birmingham. I think she taught at schools in Birmingham. So we had this wonderful little gatehouse, and it was a large residence and a big barn. And in the barn was a sculptor who had also been at Cranbrook by the name of Morris Bross, a Detroit sculptor of some note. And we became very good friends with him and his group.

And he had this working space in his barn and also kind of living space, and we often had parties there. He made this incredible barley-with-chicken dish, and I can't remember much more about it. But it was — aside from my fellow students at school, this was another sort of entrée into the Detroit arts scene, because Morris was well-known and exhibited fairly consistently, and was a terrific person and encouraging of me and my work. And we did some exchange of rug for sculpture.

And then later we moved into Birmingham itself. We had an apartment in Birmingham. So maybe the first year we lived in this gatehouse, and then, for reasons which aren't entirely clear to me — it needed repairs and things like that — then we moved into town, and then we lived the second half of the Cranbrook experience in town.

And at that time we discovered New York. My wife Char had an aunt who had an apartment in the East 80s, and she was gone over Christmas. So we drove our old Chevrolet into New York, and, I mean, we just went wild, just the museums and just the whole ambience of that. It was our first introduction to New York, and we went back many, many times after that. And then we had one glorious year, which comes a little bit later in the story.

So, you know, Marianne Strengell was the artist. And now they've changed it. I don't know what we were called at that time, but our teacher/mentor, who had been there, you know, from the early years with the Saarinens [Eliel and Loja Saarinen].

MS. SHEA: I think they call them artists-in-residence.

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, they do now; studio master.

MS. SHEA: Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: The term has changed a bit over the years. And when I get the Cranbrook literature now, it is something different, but I can't remember it.

So some of the old guard was still around. Loja Saarinen, who started the weaving program — who started the weaving studio before it was an educational event, furnishing the buildings - she was still living in a little house that her son Eero had built for her, just outside the Cranbrook gates. And we got to know her, and she invited us over frequently, a delightful woman. And Marianne, of course, was my mentor and heroine through all those years. And then Maija Grotell was also there, and I did ceramics as my minor —

MS. SHEA: How wonderful.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, it was a great experience. Wally Mitchell was teaching painting. Zoltan Sepeshy was also painting and director of the school at that time. And architecture — gosh, who was architecture when I was a student? Anyway, the design — also I worked in the design studio. And I'm sorry, that name has escaped me. But that was a very important part of my Cranbrook experience, because I was so lacking in basic drawing, color, 3-D design, design basic, all of those things. I had to scramble to pick up.

So I think maybe the first year, I don't know if I did a double minor or not, but I know I worked in the design program and in ceramics, as well, and whether it was at the same time or was separate semesters, I'm not sure. But both of them were terribly important to sort of continue involvement in things.

MS. SHEA: And what was Maija Grotell like as a teacher?

MR. KAUFMAN: Ah. Very quiet, didn't say much.

MS. SHEA: That's what I've read.

MR. KAUFMAN: Just a kind of nod. If you got a kind of positive nod, you knew that you were on the right track. But she had this wonderful, deep Finnish accent. There would be times when she would sit down and talk a bit to the whole group. And, you know, the majors and minors were sort of all together whenever that happened.

It was true in the weaving studio, too, because there were always wheels or looms available. And I don't know if a certain day was set aside for that, but it wasn't as though all the, sort of, less involved people were there at once. We also interacted with the other students who were majoring at that time in those studios.

Design may have been more, sort of, the minors together. I can't remember specifically. But the whole Cranbrook experience was unique and incredible. And at that time, the focus was on utilitarian textiles. There was one student who was a year ahead of me, Ted Hallman, who was in Canada for a while, and I think he may be back. He was originally, I think, from Pennsylvania.

Of all the students that I knew, he was the only one who was doing — I wouldn't say exactly nonfunctional, but more experimental work. He was weaving with Plexiglas shapes that he had colored. And they could be used as a room divider, but it was the most avant-garde work that was being done at that time. The rest of us were weaving three-yard lengths of upholstery, casement cloth, drapery, sometimes apparel, but not much emphasis on apparel.

The whole thing was on this whole Cranbrook tradition of architecture and design and furnishings all coming together in one active group of people. And so Marianne herself was very much involved in commissions, the GM design center. That's not the right name, but it was being built at that time by Saarinen, and she was doing rugs and upholstery and drapery and other kinds of things for that, and many other kinds of involvement she had over the years.

So her entire focus and encouragement amongst the students was, this is what you're going to do. You're going to learn to weave upholstery. You're going to learn to weave casement cloth, and you're going to learn to weave rugs and anything else you might have, but pass it by me first. So there was never anything like tapestry weaving, although Mrs. Saarinen had done a number of wall pieces, which are not really tapestry in the sense of technique; more of an inlay kind of technique, which has its Scandinavian roots. But to my knowledge, I certainly never did, and I don't remember anyone else ever doing anything that would be sort of pictorial, except Ted Hallman, who was exploring this whole Plexiglas plastic thing.

MS. SHEA: Was part of it learning to dye? Did you dye your own?

MR. KAUFMAN: We didn't do much dyeing, no. Fortunately, at that time there were so many sources available of yarns that it didn't seem a necessity, not that it was cheap. I mean, there was this rug supplier for rug weaving, for example. These were Persian yarns, often used for needlepoint, as well. But most of our rugs were made from really high-quality yarns. And that was true of almost everything that we did. We were each responsible.

There was no, sort of, yarn stock, and we were each responsible for getting our own yarns. But there were many suppliers then, many more than there are now, and somehow they were affordable enough for us to, you know, be able to do this, most of us on fairly limited budgets. Others had family who had money, and it wasn't a problem, but I and others were on a more limited budget. But we were able to get the materials we needed and not have to compromise about quality in terms of what we used.

So I don't ever remember any dyeing being done. There was a little bit of screen printing with pigments. I tried some. Marianne would do some, as well. And we didn't have a very good space for it, but we did some of it.

MS. SHEA: That's what I was going to ask. What was the studio space? You said there were always looms available, so it must have been a pretty large —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, it was a large studio. There was a front room that had a table for us to sit down and have meetings with Marianne and several large rug looms in the front room. And then the back room had three rows; must have been 30 looms or more in that large back room. And then there was also a power loom. What was his name? Someone would come in, this gentleman who knew about power looms. It was like a dobby loom.

And we all played around and did something on that power loom, yardage. And it was the kind of warp that was miles and miles long, so we weren't faced with doing that too often. But there had been some mills in and around Michigan somewhere, and I think that's where Bill had had his experience. So that was a little bit of industry taste that we also experienced.

MS. SHEA: And how big was your class? How big is a class at Cranbrook?

MR. KAUFMAN: My group was probably eight or 10. And among that group that I have specific memory of was Helena, who was Finnish, and Nelly, who was Indian, and Tsuneko, who was Japanese. Those are the three that I especially had contact with later, and they stick most strongly in my memory. And, of course, Cranbrook always drew a certain international student body, which is great. When I was teaching there, as well, it was wonderful, because Tsuneko, who was my classmate, sent her student to me later when I was teaching there. And as the story develops, all three of these will come to play in Asian travels.

So, yeah, I'm thinking we were eight or 10 in the group at that time, and I'm sure there was a limit. I know definitely there was. You know, when I was teaching there, we had a kind of — I felt there was a sort of limit, which could be pushed a little bit one way or the other, if someone was fantastic and we didn't want to turn someone down. There always were enough looms. Yeah, I'm thinking three rows of 10 each — and these big Cranbrook looms. These were not small looms that we have here at the university, but the big Scandinavian Cranbrook loom.

MS. SHEA: So the master's program, is it two years at Cranbrook, or is it longer?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes, it was two years. And there was an undergraduate program at that time, too. I don't remember in my class whether there were any undergraduates. When I taught there over those six years, there were one or two undergraduate students. But, yes, basically a two-year program for both the B.F.A. and M.F.A. programs.

MS. SHEA: And so you graduated from Cranbrook, it says here, 1959?


MS. SHEA: And then what happened?

MR. KAUFMAN: Then another one of these unplanned events in our life. At some point along the way, in time to make the deadline, Marianne said, well, you'll have to get a Fulbright and go to Europe and study. I thought, Fulbright? What's that? Well, you know, it's this study program financed by the government or funded by the government, started by Senator [J. William] Fulbright, for international study. Okay, well, where would I go? Well, Scandinavia, of course.

Why Denmark was chosen, I'm not sure. Maybe it was what was available that year. Sweden and Finland weren't. I don't know. I can't remember that. But with her encouragement — I thought, here it's just another wild thing. This is never going to happen. But she must have written a very strong letter, so, lo and behold, without a plan of what we were really going to do — I'm sure there was something; I mean, I'm sure we thought of something.

I mean, one doesn't go on in life without some kind of even a vague plan for what the future is going to hold, because others were going off to design or start their own studios, or the three, four students were all going back home to their home countries to do something. And I'm trying to remember — I wish I could remember what some of the other fellows did. Well, Ted went on to teach. He graduated a year ahead of me. And if I saw names, I could probably come up with something, but anyway.

So we got this grant to go to Denmark. So we thought, Denmark? Gosh, what do they speak there? Danish. Well, you know, where can we study Danish? Well, German. German was the worst choice. We did study German for a while, but the Danes hate the Germans, of course, because they occupied them during the war, so that was never any help to us. And my father's family were German, so my grandmother, a few words would come out of her. But with the Bohemian, especially my older aunt, I picked up a lot of little Czech phrases, which I tried to verify in the Czech Republic when I was there. No, that's not too far off. We know what you mean.

So off we prepared for this adventure in Denmark. And the plan was to go over on ship, on the Swedish-American line, with the rest of the Fulbrighters who were going to Denmark, which was great, because we got to know this group of people from — one was sports medicine; one was business. What was Roger's girlfriend? Roger was along, too. He had this business group that meets every month. Anyway, he had another kind of fellowship to Germany. But he was back and forth a lot seeing his girlfriend, so we got to know Roger very well, and he ended up in New York and went to NYU [New York University] law school and ended up hiring our son later as a summer intern.

So anyway, off we were to Denmark on this wonderful five- or seven-day trip, and were met by this wonderful woman who was in charge of the Fulbright program in Denmark, whose name I can't remember now. And so I was to go to the State School of Arts and Crafts, which was the logical place for me in Copenhagen.

And then we searched for a place to live. The first place we stayed was with an elderly couple in their home, and it was an incredible experience. They just embraced us totally. And the Danish way of life and the meals and sitting in the garden and exploring Copenhagen was just a wonderful kind of introduction. And I think we had some Danish lessons. I never mastered it very much, but tusin tak, a thousand thanks, and about two or three other things is about all I remember. Fortunately, they all speak English.

So then we looked for a more permanent place. And I'm sure through the Fulbright Center these people had posted their listings. And we ended up at a house with an American wife and a Danish husband and two or three or more children; I can't remember exactly how many. Some were living at home at that time, and others weren't. And they had a little basement apartment.

But the woman, the American, said, this is for one person. This is not for a couple. So we looked at it, and we said, oh, you know, we could really live here. I know there's only one bed, and it's a small bed, but we can do it. And the shower was in some cold part of the basement. But it had a nice little living space and a nice kitchen and a place to sit down and eat and this bed, and then the shower and the toilet, and the shower was out someplace cold. I'm sure we can do it. Well, I'm not so sure. We did, and we became part of the family. And we had a wonderful experience there in the living situation.

School was interesting and a challenge. It was 19-year-old girls, all giggly. I was in my 30s — no, what was I? Not quite 30, but late 20s. So that was a little bit of a challenge. But the teachers were great. We had top craftsmen in Denmark teaching weaving. Ralf Middlebo was teaching print, I think, and John Irwin — I might have that name wrong — was teaching weaving. And I had done some research before going there, and these were names that stood out to me.

And then we had this incredible Swedish weaver, Barbro Nielsen, who came — she was on the west coast of Sweden someplace. I'm not sure — there's not a west coast of Sweden. Anyway, she came over maybe once or twice a month just to have contact with these people. And although they generally spoke Danish, one of the students, or someone, would translate a little bit for me. And when I was in one-on-one, then there was no problem about the language, because they all spoke English.

So I learned the real Scandinavian rug-weaving techniques and how to handle a dobby loom. But what was most exciting, which finally ended up in the book [Meda Parker Johnston and Glen Kaufman. Design on Fabrics. New York: Reinhold, 1967.], was Introduction to Printing with Dyes, which had been done in European schools for some time. It may have been going on at Rhode Island School of Design [RISD, Providence] or some place I don't know prior to that, but nothing that anyone knew about in the [United] States.

So that was — the whole experience was incredible, but that was the one thing which was most eye-opening to me, you know, to deal with dye on fabric, not with heavy pigments, and get a whole different kind of brilliance and hand. The whole experience in print was really — and they had terrific facilities in all areas, but especially I remember the print facilities.

So I became friends with some of the students, and our Fulbright group kept contact. And so we became very good friends with another family whose daughter was also in my class at the school. So Elsabet Rolf and her mother had always a room available, and so our friend Skip, who was the sports-medicine type, was staying there, so we became good friends with that family, and others became good friends with our family. So the Danish experience was incredible.

And one of my Chicago uncles passed away during this time, and I inherited a $1,000 bond, for which we bought a Fiat Cinquento for a thousand bucks.

MS. SHEA: [Laughs] Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: We had this little red Fiat 500 with a sun roof. And so we tooled all over Scandinavia, went as far as Finland, and then —

MS. SHEA: That's not very fast, up the mountains, is it? Were there mountains to go through?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, yeah. We had more mountains in Switzerland. So we — then we went — let's see; I can't remember when we got the car. But we went south with Skip. He was going skiing, so we drove through Germany and Austria, where I think he let us off, and then we got a train. We had a Cranbrook friend who was a ceramics student in Florence. He also had a Fulbright. So we went to visit him - his name I can't now remember — and spent a wonderful time in Florence; cold, cold, cold in the wintertime. But we had a great time then. Then spring break, we did traveling through Europe, and then summer, we did extensive traveling through Western Europe.

MS. SHEA: And did you go to a lot of museums or —

MR. KAUFMAN: We went to every museum, every major museum in every city. You know, we had this incredible experience in Paris. You hear so many stories about the French being so snooty about non-French-speaking people. We have never — sure, I spoke a little French. I learned a little. We never had one bad experience in the whole time we were in Paris. And we were in the Left Bank in a little hotel with a balcony on the street. People would sing in the morning. I mean, it was incredible. It was close to the Cluny Museum. I mean, the whole Paris experience was mind-blowing.

And then, of course, we went on to — we didn't spend a whole lot of time in Germany; Munich was a concentration. We did Holland and the museums in Amsterdam and Paris and went to Madrid. I used my Spanish to argue with the border guards, who had submachine guns under their arms. "Idiot!" I thought I had enough Spanish I could sort of show off there. So we — in Italy, of course, Rome and Florence, Perugia, Verona. Now, museums, I mean, and architecture, it was a completely mind-boggling event, that whole year.

And then — this I didn't remember until fairly recently — we had good friends in Columbus, because the wife, Jane, worked with my wife, Char, at the dean of women's office. Her husband had been in the military — they might have met in Europe. I think they married in Europe, so they had spent time in Austria and a few other countries; then he was getting a business degree at Ohio State post-Korean War, GI Bill kind of thing. And so they were just a few years older than we were, and we became good friends with them. And they had a son at that time we became very close to.

They stayed on in Ohio and worked for a while, and they struck out to find their golden life in California. So we thought, oh, well, we'll do that, too. So I had forgotten this. I thought we didn't have a plan after Denmark. But Jane, who I've kept contact with over these years — Jay died a few years ago — sent me some letters that — she was cleaning house, and she found some letters that Char and I had separately written to her telling her about this plan to come to California, and did she know whether a weaver could make it go in California. Of course, they weren't anything to do with craft or art or anything. And so I had forgotten that was our kind of plan going back from Denmark.

MS. SHEA: And is a Fulbright a whole year, or how long —

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, I think it is almost — yeah, almost a calendar year, right.

MS. SHEA: So you started in the fall.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, started in the late summer or fall, and then stayed on through that summer, and came back maybe August, something like that; not much later than August because of other things had to transpire, that we found out had to transpire.

So I was coming back and was in contact with Marianne Strengell. And, you know, everything was air mail in those days. There was no other way to communicate. So I must have gotten a letter from her, and she said, Dorothy Liebes in New York is looking for a designer, so I think you should stop off there and talk to her before wherever you're going, coming back to Michigan or wherever.

I thought, everything is packed up already. I don't have a single thing to show. But we were planning — we flew back. We flew Icelandic Air, which was the cheap way to go to Europe in those days, Copenhagen to Reykjavik, Reykjavik to — what is it in Canada where planes stop over?

MS. SHEA: Gander?

MR. KAUFMAN: Newfoundland, someplace — maybe — and then on to New York. So we were in New York and called and made this appointment with Dorothy Liebes's studio. And I didn't have a thing. There was nothing, no portfolio or anything. So I met her —

MS. SHEA: This is prime advice you get from your students. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: We talked, and she hired me. I don't remember much about the conversation, but I had a job in New York. And because at that point we'd made maybe a couple of trips — we made that initial trip maybe our first year at Cranbrook, and then we must have come back at least one or more times before we went off to Denmark, and, I think, stopped off, in fact, for a little bit of time. I think her aunt was in town at that point and living in a larger, different apartment.

So here we were in New York, okay. I got a job. "Now what are you going to do?" to my wife. Well, let me look for a teaching job. So she did, and she found a teaching job upstate, about an hour by train up the Hudson [River] in Putnam County. And it was a kind of county job. So she traveled around with this Fiat 500 to various schools, in the winter, in New York.

MS. SHEA: So you brought the Fiat back?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, we brought the Fiat back. We garaged it there.

MS. SHEA: Did you say what color it was? I'm wishing it red.

MR. KAUFMAN: Red. Yeah, red. Definitely red. And so she got a job up there, and then we knew we didn't have any money saved. I mean, we didn't have any money saved. We knew we couldn't do anything in the city. So we found a cheap apartment in Putnam County, and I was near a bus that drove me into the city every day and drove me back.

So we did that for two or three months, and then we were able to find this fabulous apartment in a rather new building on East 19th Street at Third Avenue with this fantastic — it must have been on the ninth or 10th — I can't remember the exact floor, but it was a rather high floor, with this fantastic uptown view of all the Manhattan lights and skyline. It was absolutely incredible.

So, with my carpentry experience, built a big storage wall separating this L-shaped room into a bed area, a sleeping area, and living area. And then we were tourists. I mean, even when we were living upstate, on the weekends, on Saturday, we would always come in and go to the galleries and the museums.

I mean, this was 1960, '61. It was the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement. We saw all of these. I went back to New York this last December, and the Met [Metropolitan Museum of Art] had a show of Abstract Expressionist works, and so many of those paintings were dated '59, '60, '61, everyone — you know, [Robert] Motherwell and [Willem] de Kooning and [Franz] Kline, all of them.

And we went to all the 57th Street galleries, especially Betty Parsons. I remember the Betty Parsons gallery. She was always around. And it was interesting, because later Mariska Karasz, the embroidery artist, had shown there also. And we may have seen her work, although I don't remember specifically. Then we went to theater, which was affordable, and we went to the museums, of course, and we went to concerts and the opera. We were like New York tourists who were going to leave the next day. And that's fortunate, because we did leave a year later.

So working in the Liebes studio, I mean, that was an experience —

MS. SHEA: And where was the studio? Was it —

MR. KAUFMAN: At 767 Lexington Avenue.

MS. SHEA: Oh, okay. So —

MR. KAUFMAN: Right at Bloomie's. We looked out at Bloomingdale's.

MS. SHEA: It sounds very posh.

MR. KAUFMAN: It was a great location. But she had a beautiful — I don't know; what do you call it? — a huge apartment in a large building. That's not a condominium. Maybe it was at that time; I mean, we called that a condominium. Anyway, she had this two-story living room apartment, not far up Lexington, maybe — somewhere in the 60s, upper 60s, because we would do trekking up there to do various things.

Then a colleague from Cranbrook, who was a painting student, Harry Soviak, was already working in the Liebes studio. So that was a great reunion. Harry was a delightful person, and we became really good friends with Harry and his partner at that time. And so the two of us were sort of the young male designers, and then there was a studio manager, Ralph Higbee, and there was a receptionist, Enid. I don't remember her last name. And there was an Israeli woman who did the sewing.

So that was it, and then Dorothy, who was an incredible person, just full of energy and dynamics. And she was designer, colorist, performer, socialite, and had connections all around the design world and beyond. Her husband, Pat Morin, was an AP [Associated Press] correspondent, so she had lots of contacts through his international events, as well.

And what we were doing mostly at that point, as I remember, we were — she had an arrangement with Bigelow Carpet and DuPont. So one was the carpet manufacturer; the other was the fiber maker. And so we did a lot of exploratory work in terms of rug and carpet design, both Harry and I — area rugs. Sometimes something would be more wall-to-wall treatment. And then there would be special projects that would come along, too. But basically that kept us busy quite a bit of the time. And then she always had looms set up to weave pillows, which were sold at the American Craft Museum shop and other places, always in three-one twill in all these wild colors.         

So Harry and I would try to out-Dorothy Dorothy Liebes in our collection of — and there was a whole area of the studio called Fort Knox, which was all the metallic and Lurex yarns, because she had long been consultant to — I can't remember the name of the parent company, but Lurex was the product. And there were all kinds of narrow and wide and shiny and silver and every other color. So between using as wild colors as we could come up with and the metallics, we would, when we had free time, have a wonderful time making these pillow tops, which then the Israeli woman would sew up, and they would go off and be sold somewhere or another.

And then we would have these major showings for clients that were coming in. So work would stop completely. And there was this huge table. We'd have to get out the most dramatic kind of things. And it was dazzling. I mean, the whole studio was just filled with color, color, color. And she was — or she would be going on a trunk show. She did a lot of presentations at department stores, where they would advertise them, and all the homemakers would come in and listen to this woman who — and, of course, she was in all the shelter magazines constantly.

So she had this reputation of being the arbiter of interior taste. And she would put together things like red and pink and orange, which were absolutely out in left field, or even blue and green, she told us, were unheard-of kind of things.

And Bonnie Cashin, the fashion designer, was a good friend of hers, and Bonnie would come in occasionally, so we were on a kind of first-name basis with her, and Daren Pierce. And she was a good friend of Jack Larsen. And I had known about Jack. I'm not sure when we first met. It may have been during that year when I was working for Liebes; and Bill Pallmann [sp], who was an interior designer.

So all of these names and people were part of our daily events around that studio. And we weren't paid a lot, but it was a good experience. And I could see, this is not going to be something that's going to last forever, so something else had to come along.

If you'll pardon me, I need to use the restroom.

MS. SHEA: Okay, we'll take a break.

[END CD 1 TR 4.]

Okay. Once again, this is Josephine Shea at the home of Glen Kaufman in Athens, Georgia, January 22, 2008, for the Archives of American Art, and this is disc number two.

We have gotten you as far as New York City —


MS. SHEA: — and the exciting world, the quite theatrical and dramatic world of Dorothy Liebes's design studio.


MS. SHEA: And you said you knew that experience wasn't going to last, that you were going to have to figure out something else to do.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right. I didn't expect that it would happen as soon as it did. So we got a message, phone call or note, letter, from Marianne, who was coming to New York, and she'd like to see us.

[END CD 2 TR 1.]

MS. SHEA: I think I found the problem. Aha.

MR. KAUFMAN: Living in New York?

MS. SHEA: [Inaudible.]

MR. KAUFMAN: So they're coming, and we said, yes, yes, you know, of course, we want to see you, and please come over for dinner. So they came to our wonderful apartment, and they were very impressed with what we had done with it. And we had a very nice dinner. And then the news came that the Saarinen office was moving to Connecticut from Bloomfield Hills, and that Olav Hammarstrom, who was Marianne's husband, would be moving with them, and she would be moving, too, and that the position at Cranbrook would be open, and would I please come and teach? Well, I was dumbstruck.

MS. SHEA: A dinner party that turns into a job. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: I'm sure that I had some kind of positive reaction, but I don't think it was totally over the top — yes, of course, we'll do it. I can't wait, et cetera, et cetera. Well, let me think. We did need to think about this. I think basically that was the reaction that night.

MS. SHEA: Although that was your educational background, teaching —


MS. SHEA: — you hadn't really —

MR. KAUFMAN: Taught.

MS. SHEA: — taught. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: I'd been away two years from that place, and I was being asked to return and take her place, who had been there 20-plus years or longer? Well, when they left, we said, no, we're not going. We love New York. We're staying here. Well, you're crazy if you don't take this job. You're absolutely insane. You'll regret it the rest of your life.

So, of course, the next day we called and said, oh, well, we're so completely honored and overwhelmed by your faith that I can do this, that, of course, I'll do it. And this — I don't know exactly when this was; fairly late in the spring, maybe. So I shared it with my friend Harry, who was at the Liebes studio, and he was excited beyond belief. And I didn't tell Dorothy right away, which turned out to be fortunate.

So some time went by, and I knew eventually she would hear about it. So I didn't feel it was right to not — to keep this from her, and expected to stay until we were ready to move to Michigan, which would be at the end of the school year, at the end of the summer, and so on.

Well, when I told her, it's like I'd found another lover. Well, so sorry. We really can't use you in the studio anymore. I don't know if she gave me — if I had two weeks' notice or what. Oh, God, I needed this money for the rest of the summer. Now what do I do?

Well, I'd known — I don't know if I had met Edward Fields, who had a small high-end carpet and area-rug company in New York, and I certainly knew about him. And whether we had actually met or not before that, I don't know. But since I had been busy a lot at the Liebes studio designing rugs, I did a kind of rug portfolio and went to see him. He said, yeah, we'll hire you right away. You can work in the factory on Long Island. You can see how things are done. And we'll buy some of your designs, and you've got a job tomorrow if you want it.

So that — again, these things just happened. And this time, at least I was prepared with a portfolio and so on. So that was a great experience. I went out to the factory on Long Island, and it was very much a hand operation. They had — what's the right word? — converted electric drills to punch yarn into a backing, and it was a single-needle process in which they did — they would do yardage for contract office work. And, of course, they did a lot of custom-made designs.

They had a line of things in the showroom, and you could buy that, or you could have something designed specifically for you. And I was doing more repeat kind of designs. I don't remember working out a lot of ideas for elaborate area rugs. I may have, but that's not in my memory.

So that was a wonderful experience, which continued on during the first few years at Cranbrook. I would go back. He would send yarns to me. I would make designs. I would go to work at the factory, and that worked out very nicely for a few years. It brought in a little extra income.

So here I was at Cranbrook, no teaching experience, not very much art life experience except intensely in Europe and working in a school in Copenhagen, and the New York experience, which was — at least I could bring something about design into the curriculum.

So there I was, faced with this group of students already selected, and we were in temporary quarters, because Marianne had not left yet. We were kind of in temporary quarters for a while, in one terrible temporary quarters. And then my wife was pregnant, and we moved into other temporary quarters, which were a little more grand.

Then finally we moved into Marianne's house. And it's a huge house. It had sort of — on the main floor it had a library, a huge living room, a dining room, a maid's room, a kitchen, huge basement, and then three bedrooms, two baths on the second level. So it was this huge house.

MS. SHEA: And that's right on the campus?

MR. KAUFMAN: Right on the campus, right on the main — well, what used to be the main entrance. Now the entrance is in a different place. But it's Academy Way, so-called.

MS. SHEA: Okay. So the brick —

MR. KAUFMAN: On the left side, yeah, across from the older buildings that the Saarinens lived in and the Milles — when [Carl] Milles was there - that Milles lived in. So we had this huge place and fantastic studio with a 12-foot rug loom and other looms, as well.

MS. SHEA: Right inside your home?

MR. KAUFMAN: No. No, that was all in the studio —

MS. SHEA: Okay, in the studio. Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: — that I mentioned to you, with the 30 looms. So I guess what I brought to the program was a more open view of what fabric and textile could be, not just limited to weaving, because immediately I had a student who was interested in knitting and macrame.

MS. SHEA: I was going to ask that question of you.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Mary Walker Phillips was the student who was there, perhaps when I arrived, and she was interested in doing these kind of things. And I thought, great; let's do it. She was mentored by Jack Larsen, and she showed things. She had work in one of the Venice Biennales that Jack was involved in and published books on macrame and knitting.

And then, I'm not sure exactly which year, but soon, Meda Parker Johnston arrived on the scene as a design student. And she was a woman at that time — well, probably in her 50s — who had grown up in Texas. She was a real Texas lady, with a very Texas accent, and had spent many years in Mexico working on various craft projects, which she designed and were made by Mexican craftsmen and then were marketed in various places in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S.

So she came with that experience of working in Mexico, designing things and having them made — fiber things; not just limited to fiber. I wish I could remember more specifically. But she came with that background, and she came to Cranbrook in the design department. So soon after, in the fall, when she was settled in, she came over and talked to me. We got to know each other. And she finally said, "You know, what I'm really interested in is screen printing. And I wasn't sure what was going on in the weaving studio, and so that's why I, you know, sort of gravitated toward design."

And I said, well, I'm really interested in screen printing, too. I had this experience in Denmark where they used dyes. And she said, that's exactly what I want to do, too. She said, I know about printing with pigments, and that's been done a lot. But I think where the new direction is is working with dyes. And she had done some research, and she had some technical information from some of the dye suppliers, one in particular, ICI International. I don't know what that stands for, but anyway, they were a major dye manufacturer and had published technical information.

And so she said, "I'd like to develop — I'd like to work on this program and see if we can come up with some techniques for me," - herself personally - "and for the students, to improve the screen printing program." I said, this sounds great. Go with it. And I'll encourage you and help you as much as I can.

So she did. She went ahead. She investigated these things, pretty much on her own at that stage, and started printing, and did some wonderful things. And other students saw what she was doing, and they were interested in doing it.

And so as things were developing, she said, there's really no information out there. Would you work with me on writing a book? I said, I have no idea about writing a book. She said, well, I don't either. But there's a need for it. There's nothing out there. I found this technical information. I found this one book on screen printing published in England, and so on and so on.

I said, well, okay, let's go for it. And so at some point I think she had the idea to approach Reinhold — I can't remember; they change names so many times now — the publisher. Yeah — well, Prentice Hall. Okay, Prentice Hall. It started out something else.

MS. SHEA: Right. I think — yeah, I remember, because maybe it's in your —

MR. KAUFMAN: Van Nostrand Reinhold originally published. Okay, this is the second edition. So we had a very wonderful editor there, Nancy Green, who worked with us. She came out. She worked with us. And then I also had been exposed to historic textiles in Europe, in the museums there. Marianne had never talked much about the history of fabrics or textiles. And there are things in the Cranbrook Museum collection which I later found, Coptic and European and Asian fragments and pieces. And there was a textile collection in the museum which I never knew about until I came back to teach, and then I used it a lot in teaching and did [an] exhibition, actually, at Cranbrook, borrowing things from the Detroit Institute [of Arts], as well, to do kind of — I don't what it was called; historic textiles or something.

So then we sort of divided up the responsibilities of the book. She was working on the more how-to-do technical chapters, and I did the history. And then we did things together, of course, and worked with Nancy. So we probably started about '65. I'm sure we worked on it at least two years. We always had this battle over "which" and "that," and —

MS. SHEA: "Which" and "that"?

MR. KAUFMAN: "Which" —

MS. SHEA: Versus "that."

MR. KAUFMAN: She would use "which," and I would use "that," or vice versa. And we always had this battle. And so finally Nancy settled it. And it turned out that whatever I had chosen was mostly right.

Now, Microsoft Word will want you to put a comma after the "which."

[Telephone rings.]

MS. SHEA: That's my phone.

MR. KAUFMAN: That'll make a nice interlude on the recording — on the disc. You can't say tape anymore.

So, you know, things were going on in the studio. We had some students who did fantastic screen-print work, in addition to their weaving; a number of them who did really wonderful — not just screen print, but tie-dye, Shibori [Japanese resist dye technique], and hand application. All of the things that we covered in the book were being done either by us or by students.

So it was a wonderful experience, and Meda did a fantastic show. She finally finished her degree, and we had a kind of book opening/introduction in the spring of '67. And during this time, it was an incredible experience. Living there — you're familiar with this setting, and, I mean, it's like paradise; the fantastic house, too big but great, a wonderful child, a dog, a loving wife, huge studio, wonderful students, great college to work with, beautiful surroundings, museum exhibitions. What more could you want?

MS. SHEA: Ah — money.

MR. KAUFMAN: Money. It was — I often refer to it as a kind of feudal system, where you had — not that the serfs had all these advantages in olden times, but maybe the knights did. But one became aware that either my colleagues — looking at my colleagues, some had been there for many, many, many years and were going to stay until they retired. There were others who sort of came in and out.

And we talked about this long and hard; what's the future? We finally started looking at the future. Either we stay here without the ability to sort of get together a nest egg to make an investment in anything outside of Cranbrook, or we start looking elsewhere.

And before I seriously had any chance to look elsewhere, some years before I had gone to — well, at this time I had become — we'll talk about exhibits and things later, but I'd become sort of known in the craft world by that time. I was at Cranbrook. I was exhibiting not so much nationally, a few things. I'd gone to some craft meetings. But I think my position at Cranbrook put me on some higher level that may have overshadowed what I was actually doing at that time.

So I'd been invited to this high-powered symposium sponsored by, I think, the U.S. Department of Education, sort of "crafts in education." And it was someplace near Niagara Falls in New York State. I can't remember the exact locale, but someplace near Niagara Falls, and people that I had known about for some time, reading mostly Craft Horizons at that time.

Who was there? Soleri, the architect in Arizona, was there, Paolo Soleri, and I think [L.] Brent Kington, the metalsmith. And Earl McCutchen, the ceramics person who was here at Georgia, was also there, and he had been involved in the field much, much longer than I had and had a national reputation and was, you know, in Ceramics Monthly and American Craft, or Craft Horizons at that time.

So I was here with this high-powered group, and we had long discussions about the future of education and all — and I'm sure there's something published as a result of that. And so then in '67, in the spring, I got a communication from Earl McCutchen saying, we have gotten a lot of money, and we're going to hire a lot of teachers in the department of art. And I remembered you, and I'm wondering if you're interested.

MS. SHEA: And he's at the University of Georgia here in Athens.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right. Right, and one of the early members of the art department, which was founded by Lamar Dodd, a Georgia painter whose name is known all over Georgia and the South, and who had connections all over the country. He was the one who started the department, and now the school is named after him — the Lamar Dodd School of Art. So he was here.

Many of that original staff were here, including Bill Thompson, who I knew from Columbus [OH] days, who was teaching in sculpture. And there were two ceramic teachers. There was one teacher, Wiley Sanderson, who was teaching photography, metal, and weaving. And so this is the time when Lester Maddox was governor, and somehow he, with the support of the legislature, dumped this gigantic amount of money on the university. And I think I'm not too far off when I remember they hired, within a couple of years, 300 or 400 professors.

So when I came in, there were about eight or 10 of us who were new. There was someone for metals. There was someone for — Wiley kept with photography. Another photographer came in. There were art historians. There were foundations teachers. There were drawing and painting teachers. There were more ceramics teachers. It was an incredible influx all at once.

MS. SHEA: And was Earl McCutchen the head of the department or —

MR. KAUFMAN: No, Lamar Dodd. Lamar Dodd was head of the department.

MS. SHEA: It was actually — okay, so he was still the head of the department.


MS. SHEA: And he had hired Earl and —

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, early on.

MS. SHEA: — there was this core group. And now, all of a sudden, there's this influx.

MR. KAUFMAN: An incredible influx, yeah. But my original reaction was, Georgia? This was the civil rights period. And is this the place we want to bring our child, who was about to start school? So I thought, well, I'll go down. Of course, you know, the azaleas were blooming. The dogwoods were in bloom, and southern hospitality was poured on as thick as honey.

And they were starting a private school, skimming all the best teachers off the public school system, including Earl McCutchen's wife, Mary McCutchen, who taught second or third grade. So that was a huge relief that we were going to be — that Page, our son, was going to be able to go into a really quality educational situation. He probably started kindergarten here; yes, he was five years old. So that sort of clinched us.

MS. SHEA: The timing was —

MR. KAUFMAN: The timing was really great. And although, over the years, I had looked at other possibilities, this has just been an incredibly productive, supportive situation here at Georgia over these many, many, many years.

So it's again — now I had experience. But when I was at Cranbrook, Marianne was there, but she wasn't there to mentor me. She was there to get herself packed up and moved off to Connecticut. And when I came here, I wasn't used to the university system. I didn't know what salaries should be in a university system, and fortunately, I started off with a fairly good one. It turns out other people knew how to negotiate better than I. And I came in as an associate professor, and in a few short years I was promoted to full professor and was told I was the youngest person who had ever been promoted to full professor, blah, blah.

But things really took off before I got — my work in the studio was very active in the Cranbrook years. And we can go over that at whatever time seems appropriate, sort of how my work developed, because I know there's some questions that revolve around that. But here it was a challenge to set up a program that prepares students to go to Cranbrook. Only one has so far. But the students who came to Cranbrook had such diverse backgrounds. Some of them had — most of them had some weaving, but not always. And some — most of them had no, you know, printing or dyeing experience, no background in history.

So the challenge here was to set up a program that would prepare students to enter into top, intensive fiber programs, or go off on careers of their own. So it was broad-based to begin with and included fabric history, after a year or two, and sort of grew and grew over the years. But basically, one graduate assistant and one colleague and I have taught the program for almost 40 years.

MS. SHEA: So it's interesting. Instead of having a long tenure at Cranbrook, which people might have anticipated, and I think did — did Gerhardt [Knodel] follow you?

MR. KAUFMAN: A few years later. There was a very rocky period in between. I left quite suddenly; like, I gave my notice in May. And so Meda Johnston was asked to stay on —

MS. SHEA: In the world of academics, right?

MR. KAUFMAN: I know. I know. You don't do that. You don't do that.

MS. SHEA: [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: So Meda Johnston took over that next year, and she wasn't totally prepared to take on the weaving and so on. And then [Robert] Bob Kidd, who was a student of mine — must have been a student of mine — yes — who had a gallery and who was continuing to work commission work and exhibition work in Birmingham [MI], he came in for the next couple of years.

And then at some point they made the huge mistake of asking Marianne to come back. Well, she was dumbfounded at how the program had gone "downhill" in her absence, which was a sad thing for me to hear later, not from her directly, but that it had opened up so completely from the narrow path that she had followed for so many years. And then Gerhardt came.

MS. SHEA: And then he — I think he had a similarly long tenure —

MR. KAUFMAN: He did.

MS. SHEA: — you know, that one might have anticipated that, as you just said, you might have just —


MS. SHEA: — been at Cranbrook for your career.

MR. KAUFMAN: Exactly. Now, Gerhardt was in charge of the fibers program for 15 years, something like that. Then he went on to president, and now he's retired from that, yeah. So it went through a rocky period, but Gerhardt rescued it. And now, I mean, some students don't work with fiber at all. It's a whole — I would go back and say — no, I wouldn't, because I know what's going on around the country and around the world. I wouldn't be surprised at anything. But there's hardly a loom around, and people are doing entirely different kinds of things, which is — that's the way we've moved. But I insist on my students, as undergraduates, know how to weave.

MS. SHEA: Knowing the basics.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, they still have to know the basics.

MS. SHEA: And who teaches — you said it's part of the requirement to learn about the history. Is that taught by the art history department, or —


MS. SHEA: Okay. I wondered if —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. And this has always been, you know, an issue, I think, with me, is that art historians deal with architecture, paintings, sculpture, minor arts, photography, printmaking, but seldom even the word "fiber" - textile, tapestry - seldom even passes their lips, except a few of them, who are my good colleagues.

We have had, over the years, professors in art history in pre-Colombian art, and especially Ann Paul, dear soul, dear colleague, who, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago at a fairly young age, and wrote extensively on Peruvian textiles, and her courses were filled with information about textiles. But she left. So I decided we needed a course. My students needed to know where they were coming from.

So I do Stone Age to the present — did. Clay [McLaurin], who's taking over, is going to eventually develop that course, but it's a huge — it took me some years to develop it. And then I added to that, of course, on Peruvian textiles, because we managed to accumulate quite a few in a private study collection within our program, and Japanese textiles, which I've had such a long experience with.

So the future of those probably will be dropped, except the history course will be picked up at some point in the future. In the meantime, students will take a history of costumes course, taught in another department, to sort of satisfy something of that contact with history. But I felt that was really important, and so perhaps went overboard with three courses on a two-year cycle so that students graduating from our program had this background in it.

MS. SHEA: So the three classes, would that get you from pre-history to —

MR. KAUFMAN: The one course got pre-history to the present, and then — and that was strictly a quiz-lecture-research report course. Then the other two — I'm teaching Japanese right now — that's lecture. So we have no one on Asian art in the art history program right now, so I try to do a survey of Japanese art, with a concentration on fabrics and textiles.

And then we have a studio component where they do — we do extensive work in Shibori techniques and indigo dyeing. So they're required to have a portfolio of samples, a finished product in Shibori, and a written report on some aspect of Japanese textiles that they research.

MS. SHEA: And then the other class, is that —

MR. KAUFMAN: The other is Peruvian. And there it's, again, a combination of lectures, background on Peruvian art and textiles, and then they choose a studio area to explore. So they research it. They do experimental work, and then they do a final studio project based on that research.

MS. SHEA: And how big is both the studio art department - and how many people are — do you specialize in textiles in undergrad?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, yeah. We have now — for the last five or six years, we've had about 20 undergraduate majors. And they are on a kind of continually rotating cycle. So we had five graduate in the fall semester, and we're going to have five graduate in the spring semester, and then a certain number of continuing. Usually — it's been around 20 for the last five, six years. Overall in the undergraduate program, I think we're around 500.

MS. SHEA: That's huge —

MR. KAUFMAN: It is large, yeah.

MS. SHEA: — to me.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. And our graduate program all together, including art historians, is well over 100. So, yeah, it's a fairly large program. I think we're about 55 full-time faculty and almost as many grad assistants and part-timers.

MS. SHEA: That's impressive. And I was just looking at this — that you're breaking ground for a new —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. Well, yeah, it's going to be finished this spring.

MS. SHEA: Okay. I'm just relying on the Web.


MS. SHEA: It seems like the department is continuing to keep things expanding.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. Yes, there are — it is. And the new facilities for us, particularly, are really grand. The print room is the largest room in the whole building. It's on the first floor with windows, so people can look in, and we can see out. They can see out.

But I had a colleague with me for many, many years, Ed Lambert, who constantly would tell the students something about his desire to retire. And over many years, students would come to me and say, who's teaching Mr. Lambert's classes next semester? And I'd say, as far as I know, he is. But he's talking about retirement. I would go down and say, Ed, what's up? Oh, no, no, I'm not writing any letter of retirement yet.

So this went on for some time. And then, on a trip to — well, that is a complicated story, but anyway, now I do three trips to Japan, for the last 10 years. Fall is a short one because we only have a short fall break. So I'm usually gone there about a week to sort of start plans for the Study Abroad program, which takes place in May and June, and to refresh myself, and to reconnect, and all kinds of other personal issues.

So while I'm there in 2005, I get an e-mail. This is end of October: "I am going to retire in December."

MS. SHEA: Gad.

MR. KAUFMAN: So this threatening to retire for a long time and pleading to please let us know, both the department head and I, please let us know so we can make plans, suddenly he decides. So that left me with a year and a half of filling in with people.

But now I finally have a really great colleague, one of our former undergraduate students who went on to design, went to RISD, worked in New York for three years, and is bringing a, kind of, new emphasis, more synergy between art, craft, and design, which I think there's a lot of ways, you know, Museum of Arts and Design is one way that we're moving. He's gung-ho on it, and I'm totally confident that he's going to do a great job.

And we finally, late in December, got permission to look for a visiting position to fill my teaching responsibilities. Clay will take over the administration, so-called area-chair position in fabric design. And a new person, which we're hoping to get a fairly good pool of applicants, will take over the, basically, weaving responsibility.

So that sort of — and I decided, once my colleague had retired and I had a new person in place, that that would be the time for me to slip out, because I'm way overdue. I'm finishing my 41st year. I'm way beyond 65, if we think of those. Here 30 years is a fairly consistent time to retire. But the longer you work, the better percentage you get of your retirement, and 40 is the max. You can't get more percentage after 40 years. So it's a logical time for me, in many ways, to move on and do other things and leave the program to Clay and other young people who've got ideas about where we should move in the future.

MS. SHEA: Well, then we get to kind of backtrack.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, okay.

MS. SHEA: And I think we've covered about how you got into this realm in the first place, which was a kind of interesting meander.

MR. KAUFMAN: Accidents. Oh, I keep telling my students — they say, you're not telling us the whole story. I said, I am telling you the whole story. This can happen. There's living proof. I'm not saying it's the best way to go about life, but it can work.

MS. SHEA: I'd like to hear about your exhibition [history]. When did you first start showing? What was your first show?

MR. KAUFMAN: I tried to remember a few of those things. I think the first national exposure I had was a work that I did in Denmark, and it was using mono-filament warp. It was a kind of inlay technique, so you had transparent and opaque. And it was very Scandinavian geometric, kind of divided circles, in a piece that was maybe 36 wide by nine feet in length, which I sent to one of the Young Americans exhibitions in 1959 or 1960 that the Museum of Contemporary Crafts did every — not every year, but every few years.

That's the first time that I had exposure on that kind of scale, when that piece was accepted into that exhibition. Subsequently, the work I was doing in New York — there was really not time to do anything for exhibition. Once I got to Cranbrook in 1961, one of the things that engaged me early on — well, two things. One is a certain amount of commission work that Marianne had already started and had — not started; yeah, she had started it — and had a weaver who especially could weave rugs.

So I would get inquiries, because I was at Cranbrook, from usually people in the area wanting to talk to me about designing a rug specifically for some interior. So I did some of that, and fairly large rugs; eight-by-10 rugs and so on were some of the largest that I remember. And I designed those rugs sometimes in ways in which I was also doing my own personal rugs. And I'm sure I exhibited some of them, maybe around Michigan, but it's a little vague in my memory. And I don't think any of those kind of exhibitions are on my CV at all now. I've had to eliminate stuff over the years.

And then the next thing that I got involved in was a kind of modified double weave in which I used a resist technique for designing; that is, I used wax on paper and then covered it with ink or dark tempera. It would be good to show you some of these things, but that would take forever.

So then I started to exhibit — I tend to work — over the years, I've tended to work in series. And so that was a series that I worked on quite extensively during those Cranbrook years at the same time, continuing to some degree this commission work. And also I was invited to design for a small rug company in Indiana, Regal Rugs of North Vernon, Indiana. And this was a very forward-looking company who had engaged a couple in Chicago — EllenHank was their trade name.

MS. SHEA: Ellen?

MR. KAUFMAN: EllenHank. It was all one word. And I can't remember their family name. Ellen and Hank Kluck. They were a married couple who did print designs, and I think maybe other things. So they were one of the designers. Eileen Auvil was a Cranbrook graduate — was she a fellow classmate of mine? Maybe. Nell Znamierowski, a New York textile designer who, until recently, taught at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City], and me.

There might have been a few others who were invited to come into this company as, you know, commissioned designers and work at the factory — come up with ideas, work at the factory, get the prototypes worked out, have them approved by a very — what's the right word? — open and forward-looking owner, Eli Coplan, and his chief designer, Marie Creamer, C-R-E-A-M-E-R, who fortunately remained a friend over many years but passed away last year, and encouraged us to experiment and go out, push the envelope, based on the process and techniques that they had available.

This was sewing-machine tufting, so multiple-machine tufting, usually, but not always, usually with synthetic yarns, but not always. Then they had a bathroom line, which we didn't get much involved in, but they had an area-rug line. They would show at the major January New York market and the June Chicago markets, and one or more of us would be there for those market events and talk to customers, here is the designer, et cetera, et cetera.

So that was really a wonderful experience, and some of the rugs really took off. And I made a good amount of money from some of them. Others never did. But that was — that went on for the years at Cranbrook and continued when I was here. And I'm not sure exactly when it all sort of wound down. They changed — ownership changed and other things within internally. Eli died at some point. But while it lasted, it was a great experience of designing for — we had a really open team and encouraged to — each of us designers had our, sort of, own styles. It went really very well. So that was one activity that was going on.

These double weaves I was exhibiting around Michigan, maybe beyond that, because those records maybe exist somewhere, but I'm not sure where. And then, when I arrived here, I think at that time I sort of transitioned. I may have continued some double weaves here. But I transitioned to working with plastics. And this was — you know, plastic at that time, I'm talking late '60s. I arrived in '67, so '68, '69, '70 was certainly part of this plastic period.

And I got some of those — one of those major works [was] published in the first Constantine-Larsen book, Beyond Craft [:The Art Fabric. Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1971]. And then in the second book, I got more of them published, and showed some work nationally in a show that Jack Larsen organized called "Interlacing." And those works in plastic [The Knights, 1976] are now in the Renwick's collection [Smithsonian American Museum and Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC].

So it was a time when — "plastic" was not a good word, but I felt they had great potential. And I had a major installation in our main gallery here in which I did, actually, a kind of structure that you walk into. It was early installation art, when installation art didn't have a name, and worked with all these various kinds of plastics — clear plastic film and black plastic film, and some of them based on traditional Japanese raincoat forms.

"Garment as Object" became an interest during the plastic period, and so I constructed these, what I call poly-cloaks, which were sort of larger-than-life-size. And we dressed my wife in black gloves and black stockings or something over her head. She stood on a high stool, because they were — from shoulder to bottom were probably about eight feet. So we did that once — sort of, being worn. But the rest were just hanging either outdoors in space or interior in space. And those were included in the second Constantine-Larsen book.

And so I began to get very good support, especially from Connie, Mildred Constantine. We became really close friends a little bit later, but she knew about my work prior to that, because it was published in her book. But I don't think we actually had met prior to the publication even of the second book.

[END CD 2 TR 2.]

But Jack knew about me, and we had met. So he — I was on the mailing list. In fact, I was on the mailing list for the show they did, "Wall Hangings" [1969] at the Modern [Museum of Modern Art, New York City]. But I wasn't doing anything that fit into what they were looking for at that time, which was macramé. Maybe I left macramé out. I did. Back up.

Between or with the double weaves, I started macramé. And I did a number of works that were exhibited. The most important was "Objects USA," the Johnson Collection, that opened in Washington, traveled all over this country, and then went abroad to Europe [1969-74]. And I had a major macramé column, a kind of totem shape, in that show.

So macramé — double weave, macramé, plastics is the kind of route that I went. I was still doing macramé when I got here, and I finished that piece, I think, for "Objects USA." I actually finished in Georgia, and then subsequently moved on to the plastic works, which were shown around Georgia, published internationally. And then sometime, many years later, Arturo Sandoval, a fiber artist in Lexington [KY] —

MS. SHEA: Does, kind of, machine plastics.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes, and uses unusual materials; organized — I think he curated a show in plastics, but that was long after I had finished doing plastics. But, you know, I thought I should be included. So I did some additional works, and they were in that show, in Alaska in 1982. I don't know if it traveled beyond that.

Solo show — at the point I was doing macramé and some woven hangings, I had a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts [New York City] in 1967, when they were on the opposite side of 53rd Street. So that was the first major solo show that I had, you know, away from Michigan, and I think I was still at Cranbrook at that time. So I continued to work in the plastics for some years.

And what was coming next? I think I was continuing — okay, then, like this major show I had here, that was a big expression of this material and these shapes and forms, partly informed by materials, partly informed by historic garments, and partly — I don't know — that creative energy that flows out when you see things and light and shadow and so on, but very much caught up with the nature of the materials.

And whatever process seemed appropriate, whether it was weaving or plastic or something else, I was never — I never felt myself locked into process; sometimes maybe too much locked into materials, but in the plastic period, those were transparent and opaque, heavy and light, foam and tubes and all kind of stuff.

Then I went to a World Craft Council — well, maybe I should back up. In '73 — well, when I came to Georgia, I discovered there was such thing as travel funds. And Lamar Dodd had managed to get a major grant from the Ford Foundation, which was basically faculty enrichment, which in many cases meant travel.

So the first year I was here, already I had money to travel to a major fiber event in Los Angeles, and that was the exhibition. Bernard Kester organized it at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles]. And the major exhibition was called "Deliberate Entanglements," which was an exhibition at UCLA. Sheila Hicks had a show at Long Beach, mostly of her Moroccan rug series. Magdalena Abakanowicz had an exhibition, huge exhibition, at the Pasadena Art Museum.

And this is the funny thing. I was reading Craft Horizons, and there was a notice about this symposium, which had a name, too; I can't remember what the name of the whole event was. But in this text was my name, as though I were some kind of participant. And this was news to me. So I called up - I don't know if I talked to Bernard, or if I had met him by that point — and said, my name appeared in this article or news or whatever, ad, in Craft Horizons, and I'm wondering what it meant. Oh, well, yeah, well, yeah, you're invited to come out. You can be part of a panel. Okay.

MS. SHEA: Not the way it usually transpires.

MR. KAUFMAN: There was a young weaver, Jon Eric Riis. Do you know about Jon? He's this incredible tapestry weaver who's gotten a lot of attention fairly recently.

MS. SHEA: Is it R-E —


MS. SHEA: One "S" or two?

MR. KAUFMAN: One "S" — R-I-I-S, J-O-N. And I accepted him at Cranbrook and left, so I never got to know him there. But when I came — when I was here, he was in his first year teaching at Georgia State [University, Atlanta]. So we didn't know each very well before that. So we made the trip to this conference together. And I had seen [the] "Wall Hangings" exhibition at the Modern in the '60s — when was that — sometime in the '60s anyways.

I was familiar with these artists, but I had never met any of them. So Sheila was there, and Magdalena was there, and Bernard Kester, and, I think, Francoise Grossen, and many of the luminaries in the field were there, yes. And — help me — Colombian weaver — Olga, Olga de Ameral. Olga was there, and all of these wonderful, charming, delightful people.

And Magdalena had this huge exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum, incredible installation, and gallery talk. And so I was on this panel. I don't know what my function was there. I don't know if I was moderating or what, because I didn't have a whole lot to say. But Magdalena and Sheila and Olga and others were at it.

One funny thing did happen. There was, of course, this super stardom and cover-girl status that I don't know if I should say for recording, but seemed always to be going on, especially between Sheila and Magdalena. And there was a kind of friendly competition between the two, in a sense, I guess.

And during this panel discussion — I can't remember what the subject was at the time, and I made a kind of strange move, because some question was posed to Magdalena, and she was either puzzled about it or wasn't quite sure how to answer. And so Sheila said, "Well, take a stab at it." And I was sitting next to Magdalena, and she said, stab? Stab? What is stab? Which, of course, is what it is, and I made the stab gesture, but it also means just try something. She had this look of shock, and I thought, actually, this is quite appropriate, little gesture. So she answered the question, and, you know, everything went on fine.

So I guess it all started with this travel money, so that was one instance. And another time my family and I went out to California, I think earlier, and get a sense of the California scene, because we hadn't any familiarity with that at all. And then later came this visit to this big fiber event. And then subsequently in '73, I proposed a trip to England, because in the whole time we were in Denmark, we never went across the channel to England. So England was a kind of mystery but, I knew, full of exciting things.

So basically, that first trip to England was to do historic research for the textile history course. So I spent a lot of time at the British Museum, at the V & A [Victoria and Albert Museum], behind the scenes, photographing and taking notes, and the Museum of Mankind, and William Morris [Gallery], and Ashmolean [Museum of Art and Archaeology] in Oxford, just gathering all kinds of images that you never find published in books, and also met various artists and weavers. One of them was Ann Sutton, a weaver, a well-known weaver in England.

Now we go back to my changing my gears in terms of my work. So there was a World Craft Council meeting in Toronto [Canada] in — gosh — well, soon after that, 1971 or 1972. I think I knew — maybe I didn't know Ann at that time. Anyway, we all knew about the Lausanne Biennale and the huge work that was there - I mean, those of us who read publications and so on - how huge it was. My work was never seen to be huge enough, so I never submitted any work to that, although American artists were being shown, including Sheila Hicks and others.

So Ann came fortified to that conference with, "Hey, enough of this big shit; let us do something small. And I'm envisioning an exhibition of miniature textiles at the British Craft Council in a year or so." I guess it was early in the '70s when this conference took place, before '73. And, "Are you interested? Are you interested?" I said, "Well, I've never done anything small." "Well, I know, a lot of people haven't. No one's ever thought small. Everyone's thinking big, so let's think small."

So that first "Miniature Textile" exhibition was a kind of invitational. And I had been intrigued by the earliest — one of the earliest - fiber techniques, which is called looping, simple looping. It was a single-element technique, precursor, centuries, millennia before knitting and crochet, which are also single-element techniques. But you thread a needle, and you go through the loop into the needle, instead of a loop through a loop, which is what crochet and knitting are all about. And I had been exploring that because of my interest in historic textiles.

And anywhere you look in the world where there's a Neolithic culture, they tend to do — whether it's Peru or Swiss lake dwellings or the natives in New Guinea or wherever - looping is often early on the ladder up to more complicated techniques, including weaving. So I'd been intrigued by this a long time. But what to do with it? It's just a little thing that, you know, you make something small.

So I thought, hmm, maybe this is the time; something small, looping, maybe they fit together. What should I do? Well, why don't you try doing something like a glove? So I did. I did a couple of gloves out of looping. One was a four-fingered kind of — it was four fingers in the victory sign, red, with ruffles around the bottom. Another one was a mitten with two thumbs.

So I sent those to this miniature show. And we were already accepted, so whatever we sent was fine. And that happened when I wasn't there. I'm sure that happened when I wasn't there. Then I went — from then on, it was a competition, so then I started to think more seriously about gloves and how to make them and how to incorporate found gloves in various kinds of ways.

So that set me off on a glove trip that lasted eight or 10 years, in which glove was object. The first ones I actually constructed. Later I used found gloves and mixed media, and embellished them in a wide variety of ways, and showed those quite extensively. They were big in Japan, when I finally ended up going to Japan, and shown here also and published in magazines and books.

Then that brings me to, I guess, the trip to — well, '73 was the first trip to U.K.; '76 was the second trip. And by that time, I knew people at the Royal College of Art [London] — Roger Nicholson, who was head of the textile program, and he had visited Cranbrook when I was teaching there many, many years before. So we reconnected at that time in '73.

And so then he said, well, why don't you come back — next time, if you can come back and get some funding to come back, then you can be visiting artist at Royal College of Art. I said, that sounds great. And Martin Hardingham, who also taught there, became a good friend. And so when I went back in '76, I went under that RCA umbrella.

So I continued to do some research in historic things, but my main focus was to be involved with the school, and to get to know those people, and to get to know the London art scene and fiber scene, and get to know who are the fiber artists, and travel around. One of those trips I met Peter Collingwood for the first time and Ann Sutton and a number of other people, and have remained friends with Peter tangentially over these many years.

So that time I had submitted for the competition beaded gloves. And they were accepted, and the show would open while I was there, which was great. So one day as I was walking through Royal College of Art, on one of the bulletin boards, there was a poster with my glove on it. I was so excited.

So then Char and Page, my wife and son, came over both times and were there for the opening of the exhibition, and we had a grand time. And then those gloves — usually the British Crafts Council traveled those shows, sometimes in Europe. Sometimes they came here. The gloves ended up being sold in Australia, those beaded gloves. So of course I have good photos of them, but never saw them again. So the gloves traveled around. I forgot about the international shows.

And then a woman in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mary Davis, organized the show of miniatures. It started in Santa Fe, and then that show traveled around the U.S. and came here to the Georgia Museum of Art at one point. So my gloves got a wide circulation.

And we still had money in this fund to travel, so our son went then off to — for his last two years of high school he went to Cranbrook School. We thought that school here was fine. The Athens Academy was fine. But it wasn't offering the challenge we felt he was up to. So we knew Cranbrook School from our Cranbrook days, so he got a scholarship, and then he went to Cranbrook School for two years, his junior and senior years of high school.

So that junior year, 1979, we decided it was time to hike out in other directions. We had done Europe three times, so now maybe Asia was on the agenda. So we had my former fellow student and my former student, one who had sent the other from Japan. I had contacts in Thailand from students I had had who had done weaving as a minor. And my friends Nelly and Helena, plus Martin Hardingnamtrom, were all in India. And we had friends who had just moved from Athens to Hong Kong.

So we planned an around-the-world-in-90-days trip in 1979, and spent the first month in Japan. And my former student Toshiko Horiuchi hosted us fantastically in the Tokyo area, and I gave lectures there. It was one year after the World Craft Council had met in Kyoto. And I had friends by that time in the Surface Design Association, which Meda Johnston was one of the founding members of. I was in Europe. It must have been in '73 when the organization was started, but I later became involved and became president for a couple of years.

I'm losing track of my thoughts.

MS. SHEA: You went to Japan —

MR. KAUFMAN: Went to Japan. Yes, yes.

MS. SHEA: — and you were in Kyoto for part of that.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, yes. And because the World Crafts Council had been there in 1978, everything was organized. And I had an incredible contact, fiber person, Shuji Asada, who is my oldest and dearest friend in Kyoto for these almost 30 years. And so they had planned everything — places to visit, people to see, everything. But it was just two of us instead of a whole group of World Craft Council attendees. So it was perfect. And I had contacts through the American Center there, through the State Department, and those people hosted us. Especially Ms. Sachiko Usui.

We just had an incredible time of seeing mostly traditional things. Of course, we met a few contemporary artists, but basically our concentration was on traditional Japanese textile craft and just understanding what Japan was all about, which took us some time to do.

But one incredible thing happened after another. We booked a hotel in Kyoto near where we thought Professor Asada was living. And it is the same area, but it's a huge area, and it's not terribly close to his house, but it's at least in the right part of town. So we were staying — he met us, and he took us the next day on wonderful tours and to his house for dinner and hosted us beautifully.

But we decided maybe we weren't going to travel around Japan so much. Kyoto seemed like a place to stay awhile. So the hotel was not too expensive, but it was a little bit pricy. So we thought there must be other possibilities. So we were walking around the hotel neighborhood, and we saw in one window a loom — not only a loom, but a Canadian loom. Hmm, this is interesting. Somebody here probably speaks English. So we went in.

There was a young woman who did speak English and who was a weaver. I introduced myself, and we talked weaving stuff, and we had all kinds of crazy connections, like our friend who moved to Hong Kong used to live in Highlands, North Carolina, and we visited him there in an apartment, which her husband, who's in the antique business, had also stayed in Highlands, North Carolina, because there's an antique dealer there who deals a lot in Japanese antiques. It was crazy.

So we said, you know, we're looking for a less expensive place to stay than the Sunflower Hotel. Do you know a B&B? I don't know what word we used, but anyway, if you know anything. Well, she hesitated, and she said, well, you know, actually, we have a little apartment above our antique warehouse, and sometimes people who come from abroad or wherever to deal with us stay there. It's very simple. You know, I'm sure you won't like it. I said, well, it's worth a look.

So the next day we made an appointment and went and looked. It was this beautiful apartment; it had tatami mats. The building itself was like a warehouse — corrugated steel or something on the outside. But inside was this beautiful little apartment. And we said, oh, gosh, this is fantastic. Are you sure? This is not anything. Oh, no. But we're not sure we can afford it. Well, no, we won't take any rent for it because people have been so kind to us in the U.S. So we stayed there for two weeks in this free apartment.

MS. SHEA: That is quite amazing.

MR. KAUFMAN: And many kinds of things happened to us like that. Then we went over to Hong Kong, where our two friends had this incredible apartment overlooking the harbor, whatever it's called, just on top of Victoria Peak. And Hong Kong, there's not a lot to do. There's some sites to see, beaches to go to, mountains to go up, and shopping.

So we did that for five or six days, and then on through Bangkok and had wonderful hosts there; gave lectures; didn't give any — did lecture several different places in Japan, but not in Hong Kong — that was real R&R; then did some lectures in Bangkok and had a wonderful experience there, and then went on to India, where, first in Bombay was Nelly Sethna. Her husband was a filmmaker, and they took over our time and took us to traditional work shops. This was 1979 — yeah, '79.

And India, you know, was not the easiest place to get around at that point. You bounced between the 16th and the 20th century. You never know exactly which role you should be playing, whether it's an ox cart or you're getting on an airplane. So we had a fantastic time in Bombay. And then we were in Delhi pretty much on our own, but we had government appointments there and also in Varanasi or Benaras, famous for brocade weaving and other kind of crafts.

And we were staying in a wonderful old hotel in Varnasi with a kind of compound in the old containment, which is where the British used to live. And we just — at that point, if you've traveled at all in India, there's a point at which you, as a seemingly rich Westerner, seem so out of place in this destitute country because you lose your personal space. People are at you all the time wanting — not touching you, necessarily; well, sometimes they do. They want you to ride in their bicycle taxi, or they want you to buy something. They want you to go here. They want you to go there. You lose that sense of space.

So we were there after a week or so, and we said, we just need to settle down and figure out why we're here and if this is the right place to be. And we found books by V. S. Naipaul, who wrote about India and grew up in the West Indies of an Indian family. It was great help in getting a focus on what the culture and the country was all about.

So we decided to stay in this wonderful little hotel for a few more days, and got a notice, a message or something, from the manager, inviting us for cocktails. And Char said, oh, I'm tired. Why don't you go down? So I did. So he was very kind and sweet, and he said, you know, I'm curious to know why you're staying more than one night. He said, tourists come in. They stay one night. They go to the ghats. They go to the temples. They go to the Ganges, and then they're out of here. And I said, we just needed to get control of what this is all about, and so we decided this is — you have a wonderful place here. It's isolated. We can be away from the people.

So we had a wonderful time, and we finally sorted out - you just can't — you can't bring your own mindset into it. You try to sort of dissolve that and go with the flow, which we eventually did. But it's difficult, because you see this incredible poverty and health issues and all the rest. We saw the tour groups, who were sort of isolated from all of this. They stayed in the fancy hotels on the edge of Delhi, and they were in their hotel. When they got into the bus, they were parked close to where they were going. The people selling things were there, but they weren't sort of intruding in their personal space.

So then we had government appointments there, and that was good. And then we went to Gujarat, where Helena [Perhemtupa], my Finnish Cranbrook classmate, was teaching at the main design school in Ahmedabad and had contacts with the textile museum there [Calico Museum of Textiles] and the Sarahbai family, who founded the museum and who were textile magnates, and had us invited to a dinner with one of the Sarahbai grand dames for this incredible Indian dinner. And then she took us with her students to this famous city, Patan, where they do the double ikat weaving, Patola wedding saris, and saw that and went to Stepwells; I mean, the elephants and camels and mules and semi trucks and tractors and buses all on the same highway. It was absolutely mind-boggling.

And then we went to Kashmir, where you don't go these days, where our friend Martin Hardingham from the U.K., teaching at Royal College of Art, was now consulting with weavers there — rug weavers; I don't know who. And we stayed in this incredible old rundown hotel where we were, like, two or three guests only, with the old retainers there taking care of us. And Martin took us all around Srinagar. And, you know, it was just an incredible total experience.

Then we flew back over Iran, as the American embassy was being overtaken in '79, stopped in U.K., saw a few friends in London, and came back. And of all that; where would we go back? Japan beckoned us back because it was such a different culture, but you could live in the 20th century.

So I got another grant. And then Char had symptoms that turned out to be cancer, ovarian cancer. The symptoms actually started right around our trip, and she was, at one point, saying, I'm going home. I said, well, let's see where we can find out about this. So she stuck it out. And then her doctor sort of ignored her symptoms. That's a whole other issue.

It was a year later, in 1980, that she finally had the surgery that she should have had when she got back from this trip. By then the cancer had advanced enough so that we tried all the things that were sort of cutting edge; went to Duke University Hospital [Durham, NC] for a period. But at each turn she was — there's always a winning percent and a losing percent. Well, she was always at the losing end. So she finally took her own life, but she said, you must go back to Japan. You must go back to Japan.

So I took her advice and contacted my Japanese friends, and they welcomed me back. That was — she died 25 years ago tomorrow. So I went back and made contact with all the old friends and met many new ones, and my son, Page, was at Columbia [University, New York, NY] at the time, on his undergraduate degree and becoming very involved with a young lady there. So I didn't want to be gone the whole time, summer, without seeing him. So they — I agreed they would come over; the two of them [Page and Jeanne Paik] would come over. They became engaged in Kyoto.

And so I spent a short time there in '83, just seeing if it would work as a place to work. And we got the same apartment back. I insisted on paying at least the utilities this time. And then I met contemporary artists and galleries, and I had commitment for a show, a solo show with the gloves, the next year. And that started the whole Japan adventure, from '84, six months a time, until '98. And then we converted to the semester system here at Georgia, and that cut off that block of time for my own work under the quarter system.

MS. SHEA: And that seems like a time to ask the question, a lot of times it seems that people teach to support their work. But it seems to me — this is my impression, and you can tell me — it seems to me that you really enjoy the teaching aspect.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. Yes. And it certainly supported my work. And, you know, the University of Georgia, over those many years — when I first came here, this was this policy of research time, especially for some junior professors, but definitely for senior professors. And so I was offered half-time research when I arrived here. And I said, Lamar [Dodd], there's no way I can start a program and not teach for half the year. I will take one quarter plus summer for my research time. That's fine. So I had the six months that way.

And I've always said that Athens has been great for me because I've been able to get away. If there was something that held me here continuously except for short trips to Atlanta or Wisconsin or wherever, I would not have been happy. But it allowed those trips to California, those trips to U.K., the initial trip to Japan and the Far East. And then I didn't get financial support for all of those years I was there, but I got the time off and a supportive administration who said, yes, you can be away. And my colleague never had to pick up my teaching responsibilities, because I never taught one quarter a year. So Ed Lambert never was stuck with that. He had to do some administrative things, advise students and take care of a few — those kind of administrative details.

MS. SHEA: Sign the drop-and-add forms or whatever.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, exactly — sign the drop-and-add forms. So, yes. And I have never made a lot of money from my work, but probably the largest sale was to the Cleveland Museum [of Art, OH] for something like $10,000 for a major work, which I was pleased they had selected me to submit possibilities. They have this textile support group that raises money. And they purchased a major work from me. And a few other times I've sold work.

Well, cumulatively, we can talk about that — it's getting to 12:30 — we can talk about the Japan work, because, cumulatively, the small works, I sold nearly all of them, especially through the [Louise] Allrich Gallery in San Francisco.

MS. SHEA: What's that name again? Aldrich?

MR. KAUFMAN: A-L-L — she's done other solo shows. You'll find that information. Now, that's — then that begins a whole new era. When I started in Japan showing the gloves, it made a huge hit. I had incredible coverage; a major women's home fashion magazine had a huge double-page spread. And people were still talking. Oh, you're the gunte or tebukuro man. That's the Japanese word for gloves. Yes, yes.

And I think because it was something that the Japanese hadn't seen before, it was something, quote, wild American. And I settled in then to quite a different routine once I had shown those gloves in a number of different locations in Kyoto at Gallery Maronie and Tokyo at Wacoal Ginza Art Space, Kyoto a couple of times, and in Tokyo once. So that started my, sort of, you know, connection with galleries in Japan, with the glove show. And I showed at the same time as my friend who did the dyeing work on the wall back there.

The Maronie Gallery had two separate spaces, and I had my solo show in one space, and Shigeki Fukumoto Shad his in another. And I fell in love with this piece. And they were — his wife [Shihoko] had gotten a travel grant to come to the U.S. She's an indigo-dyeing artist, and he's a wax-resist artist. And they wanted to talk to me about possibilities of a place to come. I said, well, let's meet sometime. So the first thing I said to Shihoko is, you're not going alone. Shigeki is going with you, because one never knows what life holds for you, and you need to experience this together, for which they always thanked me.

And then Surface Design Association was having a conference at Arrowmont [School of Arts & Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN]. So I contacted people there and got them both invited to show work. And so he actually sent this piece [in my living room], which I then negotiated in sort of half-trade, half-purchase, because I knew it would be perfect in that spot. So that was '84; could have been '84, '85, because '84 is when we had this show. And so the piece has been there since that time.

MS. SHEA: Let's see. Just to describe it, it's —

MR. KAUFMAN: Seven panels.

MS. SHEA: Seven panels. I'll let you describe it.

MR. KAUFMAN: Seven panels, which is sort of traditional — probably using traditional Japanese kimono fabric, which a number of artists use. And so that, in a sense, can kind of determine the width, oftentimes, of the work. And for me it did, as well. When I was doing — for the piece on the wall over here, that's actually an obi width that's opened up, sewn together; sewn, and it's opened up. So it's full width.

So his theme here on this piece was sort of flowing, dripping water. Although those vertical elements are more like ribbonlike, still they have this strong sense of flow. So that's one — that was sort of the overriding theme of this work. But for a number of years, he worked with this incredible, complex, striped background —

MS. SHEA: It's amazing.

MR. KAUFMAN: — with this ever-changing color. And he is an absolute master at controlling color through using dye and wax. You can't see it from here, but in all of those stripes, there's texture, because he applies the wax, the melted wax, with a brush very precisely, very carefully. So there's what may look like solid colors; actually textured color.

And then, to get the light areas, he actually washes water over the fabric to create those lighter areas, which creates both a kind of complement and contrast with the vertical ribbon as it's coming down. Some places, the ribbon almost disappears into a light area. In other places it stands out very strongly because of the strong contrast in it. And they all start out with a little tiny rainbow of color at the top. And then there's little bits of touch of color, but basically after that, they're sort of neutral, either dark, blackish or gray or off-white, or values thereof, and then this really subtle delicate cloud, view through a cloud kind of colors in the background of the panels.

MS. SHEA: You mentioned Arrowmont.

MR. KAUFMAN: Mm-hm [affirmative], yes.

MS. SHEA: Have you done teaching — it seems like — I'm just speculating. It seems to me you've been too busy to really teach in those —

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, I did. In fact, Meda Johnston had taught there for a number of years and knew the director there. Oh, gosh. Anyway, Marion Heard was the director there for many years, and so she introduced me to the Arrowmont situation. And I taught there for two or three summers, almost at the transitioning time between Cranbrook and Georgia [1965-67].

MS. SHEA: Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: In fact, the summer we moved here, I taught; yes, after we had moved here. Before that, we took the whole family — the dog - my son, my wife, and dog. And a couple of summers, I think, we did that. And I taught, basically, weaving. I think in all those instances I taught weaving; but, yeah, enjoyed that very much and made good friends out of that experience, and then visited again a number of times but didn't teach after that. And I have visited both Haystack [Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME] and Penland [School of Crafts, Penland, NC], but I've never been involved there, partly because when you do a whole year of teaching — well, for me it was six months of teaching — then you want your free time to do other things.

Ed Lambert, my colleague here, taught many, many summers at Arrowmont, and he became very involved with the administration there in advising them and very involved in the governance of it in many ways. But for me, once I got — once my wife died, and during the time she was living, I taught some summers here because the money was handy, and then would teach summer and then would have, maybe, fall off for my work. And I was doing the plastic works at those stages when I was teaching here sometimes in the summer.

I remember my — my father died in the summer of '79, which was before we went on this Eastern adventure. And I was teaching that summer, so I remember getting notice from Char, who had gotten a telephone call from my brother-in-law about my father's death, so then had to take off for Wisconsin for some days. Somehow that — '79, our dog died - my father died, we went on this trip, we got back, the dog died. It turned out my wife's grandmother had died also that summer. It was a strange year, '79.

MS. SHEA: Well, maybe that's a good time for a break.

MR. KAUFMAN: I think so, yeah.

[END CD 3 TR 1.]

MS. SHEA: Once again, this is Josephine Shea interviewing Glen Kaufman at his home in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. And this is disc number three.

One of the questions that we have is, what are your thoughts on the difference between a university-trained artist, which I think you would call yourself, and someone who has learned their craft, their artistry, outside of academia?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, when I read that question, I did give some thought to it. And the answer I came up with is, I'm not so sure that I'm familiar with someone who hadn't gone through the university or art school system.

And that's true in Japan, my friends there who are fiber artists. I mean, there are, if we can use the word, artisan types. But they're not the kind of people I have much daily contact with, generally. They don't necessarily speak English, so that presents a problem. But the people I think of, my peers, all seem to have come out of that background. And it's only, sort of, the folk artists who may not have come that route or would have gone through the apprenticeship routine.

So it's hard for me to make any comment about that comparison, because the school trained - I think from the Second World War, when soldiers came back and started art school or whatever, that that became a kind of major way to go. It certainly was during my period of study, which goes back some few years.

MS. SHEA: And that is another question which may be hard to nail down, because it sounds to me like you have had a lot of interesting educational experience, but is there something you'd particularly have to single out as a rewarding educational experience?

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, this — I have a really difficult time in naming the favorite movie actor, the favorite movie, the favorite novel. I tend to like groups of things.

MS. SHEA: Name your favorite artwork. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: And favorite artwork. Obviously, the Cranbrook experience is what set me on my way. There's no doubt about that. I mean, I would not be sitting here talking to you about my art today if that had not been something that was pushed on me. And then I come back one step further and say, it was Twila Alber, my first weaving teacher.

I'm a product, first, of adult education, if you want to call the city recreation department that. And I tell my students that. My art experience began in adult education, or there may be some other term for it, but basically that's what I tend to refer to it. So each one of these experiences were so important in rolling me on to the next one.

If I hadn't studied with Twila Alber, who was a Cranbrook graduate, I wouldn't have gone to Cranbrook. If I didn't go to Cranbrook, I probably would never have thought of Fulbright. And if my professor had not - or teacher had not - kept track of me, I wouldn't have gotten a New York design job. So it's hard for me to point to one single thing or event or place that was the most important.

MS. SHEA: Right.

MR. KAUFMAN: It's just a kind of continuum of incredible events that were completely unplanned for.

MS. SHEA: And then it seems to me the next question is, did you apprentice with anyone? And it seems to me that you had teacher types of situations, but not necessarily an apprentice.

MR. KAUFMAN: No. The closest thing would be studying in Japanese workshops. And we'll save another time to talk about the whole change in my work once I started living in Japan on a serious basis. But there, learning traditional techniques, especially of metal-leaf application [surihaku] to fabric, it wasn't really an apprentice; it was just observation and asking questions.

But that's the closest I've come to sort of working in a situation where I was learning a new process that wasn't, quote, a teacher, in the traditional sense of teaching. I was just watching these, basically, young art graduates who were working in this Asano obi studio, using this metal leaf in various ways, and watching how they did it, and the materials they used, the techniques and the tools and so on, and then asking questions of my friend Asano-san, whose studio this was, if I had something I didn't quite understand that was going on.

So that would be the closest, say, I would ever have come to apprenticeship in a sense, but it wasn't really. It was just sort of observation of process.

MS. SHEA: And this is kind of an interesting one. Do you think of yourself as part of an international tradition?

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, whatever that means. I mean, if you live internationally for a good part of your life, your creative life, which I have for the last 25 years, then I would say, yes. And did these international experiences impact on your work? Definitely. Do you think about your work differently than you did before? Yes. So I guess if one exhibits internationally, lives internationally, works in an international situation, then I guess — [laughs] — I'm an American living the international life, I guess, is one way one could put it.

MS. SHEA: And you talked a little bit about functionality, not so much in the way that people might think directly, because, you know, a glove can — you know, often begins its life as a functional piece. And then you also mentioned Japanese raincoats.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Well, so, some of the work, which I don't consider functional, was certainly inspired by functional objects, functional wear as object rather than as wearable. But if you want to go back to my earlier periods, early Cranbrook years, when I was designing, and having woven rugs for clients, and the design work I did in New York for Liebes and Edwards Fields and later for Regal Rugs, but I would separate, to a certain extent, the design work for design studios from the work that I designed myself and had handwoven.

That I would consider a little bit of dip into functional work during those periods, because there was yardage woven on occasion. There were a number of rugs that were commissioned. So those certainly were functional. But beyond that, I may have taken something that was functional and transformed it into something that was nonfunctional, which is the way I like to think about those things you mentioned, both the gloves and work inspired by the Japanese raincoats, for example, and the current work. That was in Poland this past summer, which, that's something we'll talk about later. But it was also garment-inspired, but nonfunctional.

MS. SHEA: You mentioned going to church when you lived at Cranbrook, Episcopalian.


MS. SHEA: Would you say religion or spirituality have a role in your —

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, it has a role in my life, and I guess — I would say not formal religion anymore. I abandoned that for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the problems that have been generated in this world today by religious beliefs; but spirituality, yes.

And I think that living in Japan has made an impact on me, and I think basically through Shinto, which is the indigenous Japanese religion, which reveres nature and which endows almost every natural object with some spirit or kami, which is spirituality for me. You can say God, but to say every stone has a god within it, I think, is maybe difficult for us as Westerners to cope with.

But as I've lived in Japan, I have come to embrace — and I have not studied it in any great depth — and the problem — one of the problems with Shinto is that there aren't great texts. They don't deal with the afterlife, for example. They deal with birth and weddings. Then Buddhism takes over for death.

But there is this reverence of nature, and one sees that all over Japan. And one has a sense of it in talking to people, reading either fiction or nonfiction, about Japanese culture. And my living in the mountains in Georgia has reinforced this whole sense of awe in nature. And my happiest times are often out on the trail at the waterfall or alone at some creek or brook.

So nature is very important to me in creating a kind of spiritual feeling and a sense of something greater than myself, but not a personal god, not an organized religion. And I can't — it's hard to say if these are part of my belief now. I suppose in the most general way it influences the work. But the work is not about these specific spiritual feelings I have in relationship to nature.

But I like to feel that I'm living a spiritual life, that if some of this spirit comes through in the work, then I'm very happy for that. But it's not an intentional goal, nor is there any sort of content within that gives a sense of, certainly not religion, but even spirituality. It's hard for me to make that judgment. But spirituality I live, but whether it comes through in the work or not and how important it is in the work itself is difficult for me to say.

MS. SHEA: Some of these are about — I guess you would call it the business of art. And one of the questions is, describe your relationships with dealers.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. The first — well, there's two aspects to dealers and galleries. One is the Japanese experience, which, in terms of gallery, I probably had my first intense experience there. And for the most part, galleries in Japan are rental situations. I've been fortunate to have what's called "sponsored exhibitions," which means I'm a guest. I don't pay a rental fee, which Japanese artists pay. I'm responsible for the announcement cards and postage and refreshments and so on, but not for the rental fee.

And because Japanese galleries get rental fees, the galleries that I'm familiar with are less intense in creating a market. If people come and buy, they get a percentage. It's not — I don't even remember now, because there are so few things I've sold in Japan. So that's one kind of gallery situation where I have a good relationship with these gallery owners; they invite me to show; I have shows; and that's it. I mean, there's no further commitment on either part, although I tend to show in the same galleries year after year: Gallery Gallery in Kyoto and previously at Wacoal Ginza Art Space in Tokyo.

My first eye-opening experience was with Louise Allrich in San Francisco, in the Allrich gallery. I had — the same friends I mentioned to you earlier, Jane and Jay Winters, who were in Columbus — Jane worked with my wife and then moved to California. After Char died, and I was still doing the six-month thing, there were occasions when I would stop by San Francisco, usually going over to Japan, and I knew about the Allrich Gallery as one that showed not only fiber work but major fiber artists.

So I made an appointment, and I went to see her. And I was doing the Japanese work at that time, which we haven't talked about right now. But she was very good. She sat me down, and she said, this is what we need to do. You need to have a major article written about you in a major magazine, and you need to have a collection of work, and you need to have several shows, and you need to keep good records, et cetera, et cetera. So she was really great in setting out a plan for me in, probably, the late '80s.

And then — so we did this. I arranged with a friend, who wrote an article about me and was published in American Craft, and then started having shows with Louise for the small works like you saw in the bathroom above the toilet. And she sold as many of those works as I could provide, and they sold for slightly under [$]1,000 — 900, 950, or 1,000. And I had two major shows of those there, and then she sold things in between. So that was a great gallery experience. Repayment wasn't always so prompt, but anyway, she sold the work. She promoted the work. She did a great job of selling.

Then, when I moved to a slightly larger format, which is like 10 inches in length by 40 inches in width, then the price went up to $1,200 or something; almost no sales. It was amazing how the scale of the work, the size of the work — the actual scale of the images didn't change that much, but the size of the work changed, and the price went up; almost no sales at all.

So that was my experience with Louise. Part of it went very well, and then she went out of business, closed the gallery. Some pieces ended up at the de Young Museum [San Francisco] through her donation. It was complicated, anyway. So I was happy to have some work in the de Young Museum collection.

And then I've been keeping contact with Jack Larsen through annual, kind of, holiday letters, and usually included an announcement card from my recent shows. And so at some point Jack wrote to me, contacted me, and said, you know, you ought to meet the Brown Grotta, Tom Grotta — Tom, yes. So I did, and they were interested in the work.

And they had some of the work, and then they arranged for a two-person exhibition, Hisako Sekijima, Japanese basket artist, who was a friend of mine prior to that, and my show, and I showed work similar to the scale — a little bit different than scale, but similar to scale small piece in the bathroom; and the larger works — quite a variety of works in that show, where, with Louise, I would show one kind of work. But the Brown Grotta [Gallery] show was a range of work, because at that point I was doing the small things, the medium-sized things, and the larger things. Nothing — nothing happened. I don't think a single piece was sold.

And although we remained on fairly good contact, I started drawing the work out because I needed to show it elsewhere. And an astute person said, I don't think they really understand your work, and they're not able to promote it. They're not able to talk about it. And so I know they sell a lot, and they included me in SOFA [Sculpture Objects & Functional Art] shows, and they made an effort, and I don't fault them for that. But there was just no movement. So they may have one or two pieces still. I don't — you know, that's my bad record-keeping. And I still am on their mailing list and so on. But I haven't had any serious activity there recently.

So — and then I've had some things in the Mobilia Gallery in Boston. There was a show of the major collection — I can't remember her name. A woman who has a major collection of textiles shows at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts [MA]. And — yes, the "Daphne Farago Collection," Mobilia Gallery. So Mobilia organized a show of artists in the "Eloquent Threads: Fiber Art from Daphne Farago Collection," Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2002. And then Fiber Arts Today was at Mobilia in 2002.

And although we never signed any contracts or agreements or anything, they had some work, and for some time — the show was a relatively short period of time in conjunction with this Boston Museum show. And then I got the work back, and then I got contact from the directors. Oh, someone was very interested in one of those works. Can you send something like that back? So I sent it back, and they got it. They said, oh, no, they didn't want a vertical. They wanted a horizontal. So I sent a horizontal, and nothing came of it.

So at this point I don't have any kind of ongoing connection with a gallery in this country. And that's partly because I'm so bad at self-promotion. I need to — I had a major retrospective in Atlanta, around 2002, at the SunTrust Plaza. When was that? Yes, 2002 also. That was a major show in a huge space, and it was up for a good long — a couple of months; and unfortunately, out of that, almost sold one small piece, but it wasn't followed up, and so nothing happened there.

Then everything else from then has been — solo shows have been in Japan since 2002. And that's a good relationship. It's not a selling situation, especially now I'm away from these wall pieces to more installation work, which doesn't — you know, that's not a thing that sells anyway.

So that's kind of where I am with galleries. It isn't that I couldn't do more effort, and I need to. I do have some small works that I could add to and make a gallery show, but I just need maybe the time of retirement to do that more seriously.

MS. SHEA: From your vantage point, how have you seen the art market change in your particular realm?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Well, I think there have been changes, and I think that there are certain things which are considered collectible. Miniatures were one, and that's one reason why I think I've sold quite a few of those smaller works. People could deal with small works easily.

There was one situation which — I needn't name names, but a piece was purchased from the Allrich gallery, and it was taken. And the owner noticed that over a period of time that it changed color; the leaf changed color. And I had noticed a little bit of that happening with one batch of leaf that I had gotten; it turned from gold to a kind of beautiful coppery sunset color, which I loved, which the piece up there in the bathroom is an example of. And she was distressed because she felt that the environment that she was hanging it in was wrong or something.

And Louise contacted me, and then somehow the piece was thrown away or destroyed or something, which I thought was rather shocking, and then it reappeared. And then Louise sent it to me, and it was actually that piece up there that's now in my bathroom. And I still had the screen that I made that piece with, and I still had fabric that was very similar to that. The colors might be slightly different.

And so that time I used pure gold leaf. This is basically silver leaf, which is a whole range of colors, including turquoise and lavender, all the metallic colors, plus any other colors you might imagine. But pure gold leaf does come in some slightly different shades, but it shouldn't change. So I reprinted it, sent it back, and everyone was happy. That's the art market. [They laugh.] So I do digress. But small things were collectible.

And I'm slightly envious of people making baskets, because baskets are very collectible. And I know other kinds of work sells, but you have to be — and I thought, you know, with Brown Grotta, I was in the situation where, if work was going to sell, if my work was going to sell, it ought to sell through them either at the various SOFA events or in their gallery or in their promotional activity, which they have websites and all kinds of things.

And then there's the whole effort of the Friends of Fiber Arts International and Camille Cook and her promotion of selling and buying and collecting fiber arts. And I think that, to some degree, that's been successful. She has one or two of my small pieces, as I understand, and invited me to show in that Midwest show that was in Chicago in conjunction with SOFA a year ago [2006]. Work that's in the Racine Art Museum [WI] was borrowed for that show.

So I sense the situation has improved and that people are selling more. It just hasn't impacted me. And if I was doing more small work and showing it in the right place, it could be that I would see some difference in the market. But now that I'm doing, sort of, installation work that doesn't have that kind of market value, then it's not something that I have to even think about.

But there's ongoing other things that could be presented in a gallery situation and might have some market value; I don't know. But for me, I can't see any great difference. I mean, I had my heyday during those days in the '80s when Louise Allrich was selling everything I could produce. And I haven't seen anything like that again, but then I'm not making that kind of work anymore, so there you go.

MS. SHEA: Is there a community that has been important to your development as an artist? It seems like you've talked about several different communities, but you also did mention — and you mentioned it, I think, at the beginning of this book — about the formation of the Surface Design Association. Has that been particularly important?

MR. KAUFMAN: Not so important. I would say the community of artists in Kyoto has been — how do you say? Is the word "influence" there, or how is it actually worded?

MS. SHEA: It just says, "important to your development."

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Well, I think definitely the community in Kyoto, because Kyoto has a high concentration of fiber artists and other artists, as well, not just fiber, but those are the ones that I have the closest contact with. And we meet often at gallery exhibitions, openings. There's an exchange of ideas.

There's discussion with a couple of my really good friends there where I can really be honest about - not their work, because they're not artists themselves, but one is a gallery owner, and one is a former gallery curator and mentor of mine who is now a university professor. We can have really candid discussions about my work or other people's work, and I find that ability to have this kind of communication is unique to my life in Japan.

So if I have a community, it's in Kyoto. And for those 15 years where I was there for six months of the year working, working, working in my studio like crazy for shows almost every year or every other year — well, one year in Kyoto, one year in Tokyo, but maybe the same work with some new additions, something like that — if there's a community, it would definitely have been my Japanese support group and colleagues.

MS. SHEA: For people working in the craft medium, clay or glass, fiber or wood, there are economic pressures on some schools. For example, I heard that it's expensive to run kilns and that sort of thing. Is it that kind of situation with fiber, or are there enough interested students? Or how do you kind of see —

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, yeah, that's a good and reasonable question, because my knowledge, personal knowledge, is that weaving programs have been shut down. Sometimes entire fiber programs have been shut down, presumably for lack of enrollment. I don't know. Of course, finances enter into it, but other than equipment, there's not a whole lot of major expense, like burning gas kilns for either ceramics or glass. We don't have glass in our program here, but we certainly have a very active ceramic program that does a lot of firing, and I haven't heard anything about that being a problem.

But I think that there has been a diminishment of fiber programs, especially in university programs. I think art schools that I know about, RISD and Cranbrook, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Philadelphia University [PA], which is more technical, all still have strong fiber programs. But I know that weaving has been abandoned in some schools. And I've fought for that by keeping the enrollments — by requiring it and keeping the enrollments so that administrations are not questioning, you know, how many people we have in a course.

And now, under the current situation, which has grown in the last 10 years to a greater number of majors, we don't see any threat to our program. In fact, when we can add computer looms, even the dobby type, which are less expensive - and Clay hopes eventually to have Jacquard loom as part of the program; he's quite convinced that we're going to keep a strong enrollment once we start incorporating more effectively new technology into the program.

From my standpoint here, I've never seen any kind of serious downgrading of our situation. I know other schools have battled to keep and have lost faculty and lost programs. But here I've held on tightly to what we've got, and I think it's proven to be successful in terms of enrollment and the success of our students out there.

MS. SHEA: And is there a particular career path that many of your students take? It seems probably quite diverse.

MR. KAUFMAN: It is diverse. And there's a number of categories. The students you never hear from, you don't know what's happened to them. A small percentage have gone into situations like — what's the right word — showrooms.

MS. SHEA: Interior design?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, textile dealers and showrooms, that kind of work; a small percentage. The largest percentage that we can keep track of are going into design, and that can range from carpet design to accessories to fashion, not that we're not able to teach a strong fashion program, because we just don't have the staff or the facilities to do it. But a number of our students are interested in that, and they have pursued it beyond Georgia in other schools and other kinds of experiences.

So the greatest percentage — some few have managed to establish their own studios and doing some kind of unique, one-of-a-kind work with websites that promote that work. But the largest percentage that we know are employed somewhere in the design world, a lot of them in the Southeast, New York, a few in California. But that's sort of a major employment or career path that our students have taken over a number of years now.

MS. SHEA: That's nice that they're employed. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, it is, and I've had a chance to meet with four students, four former students who graduated 15 or more years ago, over lunch in New York, and that was great, because I've kept track of one of them, a lot. The second one had come here recently with her two teenage kids to show where she had gone to school. And the other two I hadn't seen for years and years and years, so that was wonderful.

And then there was a student who graduated four or five years ago who went to Italy and studied fashion design at the top fashion academy in Milan, worked in Italy for a while, and now is working for Armani Exchange doing men's knitwear in New York; and another student, a Korean student who left here with his B.F.A., went to FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City], got an associate degree in menswear and is now doing outerwear in New York.

So we have these few — we have others who are round-about in the New York area, as well, who are doing well. But it was nice to make contact with these successful ones when I was there recently. We're trying to establish more of a tight network of these people, who knows whom, and, you know, start a Web list so we can keep contact with them.

MS. SHEA: Another, I think, maybe hard question: What are the most powerful influences in your career? That is completely open-ended - people, art movements, technological development.

MR. KAUFMAN: I think probably the largest impact has been living and working in Japan and traveling in Asia, because all of those experiences have influenced the work directly through photography. And I have thought and talked and written a lot about my celebration of place as a kind of visual record of my experiences in these places.

And "topophilia" is the geographer's term for love of place, which I discovered when I was visiting Malaysia one time. The cultural attaché there and his wife were geographers who understood this whole fascination with place. And they had spent — I don't know if they were Canadians. One of them was a Canadian; or couldn't have been Canadians, I guess, and worked for the U.S. government. But they had studied and photographed rural farmhouses or something in the Canadian countryside, in the same way I was fascinated with architecture that sort of establishes each one of these cultures that I have visited in Japan particularly, but how it's different in Korea, and how it's different in Malaysia, and how it's different in Thailand.

So the Asian experience, certainly, for 15 years, which is longer than I've stayed with any kind of focus in my work, certainly had the strongest impact; people, of course, but place, I think, was the most dramatic, important influence on my whole body of work that took place during those 15 years, just living in those places, photographing that architecture.

I've always felt that architecture was the one thing I could draw out from each of these cultures that would express my being there. And how others reacted to it could always vary, but there might be time to talk, another time perhaps, about how that whole body of work developed from the small pieces, but what the consistent thing was through all of those 15 years in that work which relied on photographs and metal-leaf application with silk screen.

MS. SHEA: It seems like that might be a nice place to wrap up.

MR. KAUFMAN: I think so, too.

MS. SHEA: And as they say, to be continued.

MR. KAUFMAN: To be continued.

[END CD 4 TR 1.]

MS. SHEA: I'm returning again to speak with Glen Kaufman. Today is February 23 [2008]. We are in an area called Big Canoe, Georgia, which is basically the mountains.

MR. KAUFMAN: North Georgia mountains, right.

MS. SHEA: The North Georgia mountains. And this is for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. And this is disc number one [five].

We thought we might begin by talking about one of the questions here, which is the quality of your work environment.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, right. I guess I'm a little bit strange in that regard. I tended to work wherever I needed to work. Many people have a kind of permanent studio. It's beautifully done. It has everything you need. And people want to come and see it. And I usually discourage people from coming, because it isn't any of these things.

First, when I was at Cranbrook, I had a beautiful, huge studio overlooking parts of the grounds, and it was fantastic. It was probably as large as this whole space, maybe even larger. So that was a studio to come and visit, and was impressive.

When I moved to Georgia, I had a series of on-campus studios, sometimes in old houses that the university had acquired that would be converted into various kind of uses. And I was in one old house for a number of years and did a lot of work there. And it was kind of a studio feeling, I guess, more than many other places that I've worked.

Then, also in Athens, I had working space at home and did some weaving there; not a whole lot, but some. And then that facility was lost by the university and used for — not lost by the university, but converted to some other use, so I was moved someplace else.

And then when I started working in Japan, every place that I lived, I found some studio space to work in. And it was always different, and it was part of — I lived — I was trying to think, sort of, the sequence of events. I lived in a little two-story townhouse at one point, and the upper floor —

[END CD 5 TR 1.]

MS. SHEA: You were saying, first you were in a townhouse, but you didn't necessarily always have the studio in the place where you were living in Japan, is that right?

MR. KAUFMAN: No, it was in the place where I was living, always in the place I was living. And that space was working, entertaining and studio. And some of the work I was able to do at a friend's university in his studio, and that was good, because certain part — I could do the designing part. I could do the weaving in this little townhouse, second-floor townhouse room. But printing, which is a little bit messier because you need a place to wash up screens and so on, then I was able to do that in his studio. And I — and photoscreen preparation was done in yet another place, another friend who was teaching at another school.

So I was really fortunate to have this kind of support group, making screens one place, printing and doing other things in another place, and then some of it at home, as well. So it was kind of fragmented studio. But it all worked out very well, and I was able to produce a lot of work in those early years.

So I lived in that place for about four years and produced a good amount of work and showed a lot in Japan, and a good share of that work was the small-scale work like you saw in Athens that was at the Allrich Gallery and sold in San Francisco

And then the next place I lived was a suburban house owned by a family who - the husband of whom was working near Atlanta and I met through my daughter-in-law's mother, who had business connections with this family, with the husband, and they were looking for someone to live in their house while they were in America.

So that was a huge suburban house, and I had the whole living room. And it was good, because at that time the work — as I continued to work in Japan, the work expanded in size. And by the time I was in that suburban house, I really needed big space to print. And there were tables — somehow there were tables there in the house, and I was able to print long expanses of obi fabric. And that was particularly good for a body of work that I called November Tale [1989], which was a kind of narrative based on horizontal Japanese scrolls, that kind of format — narrow, long format — and needed long space to print.

And the same friend who helped me make screens, his school moved almost the same time I did to this new location, so it was a short bike ride from my house to the school, where I was able to continue to make my photographic screens. That was just a wonderful kind of happenstance that that facility and I moved at the same time, because that kind of thing was not — I mean, making those screens was not something I could easily do at home. It needed professional screen application tools and darkroom and exposure unit, all of which was there, and it was wonderful.

So I did that large project there, and then things expanded to an even larger scale after that. So that house — I was in that house for at least two years. And then they were coming back, so I had to search for something else. Fortunately, by this time I had this great network of friends, and someone said, oh, I think I know someone who has a house, in the absolute opposite direction.

This was — let's see, that direction would have been west of Kyoto, that suburban house I had. Then I found another one that was south of Kyoto, and it also had a large living room, which became my studio - kind of Western-style living room, an artificial fireplace, carpeting, damask-covered, fabric-covered walls. But it was big, and it had — I could have tables in there, and continued to do printing there.

Screens had to be made. I changed my screen technique at that point, and I was using facilities of the friend who had the obi [Asano-san] studio where I originally learned leaf application technique. And this was a technique of making screens which was not absolutely unique to Japan, but not common here. And it was [a] much easier screen-making technique, in which the fabric that was used for making the screen had a certain kind of light-sensitive coating.

And it, in conjunction with the right toner, with the right brand of copy machine, you could put the two together — that is, a fabric mounted on a thin metal aluminum screen, in contact with your artwork, which was full-scale, with a certain kind of copy machine with the right kind of toner, and then, with very intense light, that contact between the toner and this special coating caused the coating to disappear.

So there was no water needed, no washout. And it was a terrific technique. It was somewhat limited in size because of this exposure unit. But I was working always within a grid, so I could always divide my imagery into units, and that worked out very well for that process. And it was easy also to make — to lug these things around, because it was thin aluminum frames that weren't too heavy, and I could package them up and tie them up and get on the train and go to this company and make my screens, and then traveled some distance back to home and did the actual printing there.

And at that time, around 1990, a former student, Hitoshi Ujiie, who was from Kyoto, who I recruited to come to the U.S., who studied English and got his M.F.A. at Georgia, came back and was then employed in New York. He worked for a while for Jack Larsen. Then he taught at Parsons [The New School for Design, New York, NY]. Anyway, he came back to Japan, and we got together, and we were talking about my work and his work. And he said, you know, what you need is an assistant. I said, yeah, that would be great. But I'm able to afford living here and all the other things, but I don't have — no, no, no. You've got it wrong. You find a student who would be happy to work with you, and a chance to practice English and work with you as an American artist. I said, well, fine, okay.

So we talked to my friend and his former professor, Asada, and we came up — they came up with one person. And so I talked with him. His name is Koichi Kimura. And he was very interested in working with me. That was the first time that I had an assistant, and he worked with me while he was working on his master's for at least two years. Then he was interested in coming to the U.S., and he studied English, and then he did a second, actually, second M.F.A. in our program.

But it was the first time for me to actually work with someone, and he learned very quickly. And there was a point not too far into our relationship where he sort of knew what we were going to do at the same time I knew it, or maybe sometimes even anticipated. So it was great to have someone so sympathetic and so into what I was doing, who could understand what it was all about and do just about anything that I could do. I mean, I did designing still, but in terms of actually applying all of the technology and materials, it was perfect.

And we had this incredible relationship for these couple of years and became very good friends. And then, of course, he came to Georgia, and we continued this relationship through various kind of evolutions and so on. But anyway, just to stay with him a bit longer, he then stayed in Athens beyond his graduate degree, partly because of a romance with an American girl. And he was able to get a job with a Japanese company, kind of as a computer tech, because he was very knowledgeable about electronics and computers and so on. And so he stayed on with that company and made bearing holders or something, you know, that's applicable to automobiles and other industries - you know, Japanese company in Athens.

And then the romance dissolved, and he decided it was time to come back to Japan. And his company — his family — has owned for three or four generations, maybe longer, a very upscale — I think we would say souvenir shop — near one of the famous temples in Kyoto. And being the older of two sons, he was expected to take over this eventually. And when he came back, he immediately got involved in the family business and involved in the temple community, and it was just a perfect situation for him. He, unfortunately, was not able to continue his artwork as he might have, and I wished he would have. But we all knew, those of us who knew him well, knew that this was going to be his future.

Then, after — just when he came back, I was starting the Japan Study Abroad program. And now, the second year of the program, he became involved, and now he sort of has been over the last eight years a kind of — a representative and handled many details and works with our program. And so we still have this great connection.

So that — I was in that house for maybe four years, doing fairly large work, but modular, so that, even though the eventual work of many pieces was large, everything was modular, so that it was easy to transport. And that was always something of my thoughts, was these things are going to have to go - made in Japan, and go back to the U.S. at some point. And the less problems in terms of size that I could solve, the better it would be in the long run. So many of the works that I did were modular and could be assembled into large works.

Then I was having difficulty with the landlord, and they were talking about raising the rent, so I needed to find some other place. And there was a year when I was sort of between places. I stayed in a friend's house while she was away and did some work there, but not very much, I think, that year. And I had always convinced myself that I had to work in Japan, because I was there six months out of each year, with summer and the fall semester for research.

So during all of those nearly 15 years, I didn't do much work in Athens. However, I committed to an exhibition, which the work needed to be done. Even though I was still there on a six-month schedule, the work had to be ready to show right upon arrival. So I broke my own rule of saying I could only work in Japan by starting to work in Athens, too. And I did hand-woven fabric for that, which I wove actually in the student studio.

So while I was teaching and had some free time, I could do some weaving, too, and set up a temporary print space and did that one series of works there, and then brought them to Japan as fabric, and then did the mounting. That's what I did when I stayed in my friend's studio that one summer. I did the mounting there, and all the other — the weaving, the printing, the designing, weaving, printing was all done in Athens.

And then the mounting for the exhibition was done in Kyoto, and I had the show then early on, in June, probably, and then found this fabulous house that I have now. This, I don't know, 125-year-old house, with all of its problems, but it was sort of my dream house — an old house with a garden, which I sort of redesigned in a great location close to a major shrine with a forest, between two rivers that are great for hiking and biking or walking, close to transportation, wonderful shopping, and just a great natural environment. Walking along the rivers with the mountains in the background I find really exciting every day that I get out and enjoy that neighborhood.

So there was a wonderful studio. And I continued to work there pretty much of the time. But at the same time I acquired this fantastic space is when I lost the six-month period of time. So I was working in shorter bursts. Summer would be, like, two months, one month of which would be the study abroad program, and one month would be for working.

And so I started then — I finished up this whole idea of the leaf application, photographic imagery, grid, leaf application; sort of wound up around — what year was it — around 2000, maybe. And I did a series of vertical scroll-like forms on fabric and mounted in a kind of traditional scroll way, but soft, not mounted on paper, as most scroll mounting is done. And then it was just a time — that whole period of my creative work lasted much longer than any other period in my past, but there was a time when interest was waning, and ideas were moving in other directions.

And I think probably the next group of things I did — I was inspired by traditional Japanese patchwork on farmers' or workers' clothes that I had purchased in flea markets. And I had seen these things over the years, but I don't know; there was this one year when I went to one of these craft markets with my students that, and one dealer there had a number of these garments, old garments that had been patched and repaired and stitched, and I purchased a couple of them. They inspired me to think in terms of how fabric is used for patching and repairing and extending the life of garments. And I wasn't about to do that — well, so some of these garments really were in need of repair, I felt.

So I purchased the old fabrics which they had been repaired with. And while I was at school with my students and a Japanese teacher taking the class - but I was there as a presence just to monitor things and make sure everything was going fine - I was actually stitching.

So one day we had a visitor. And the translator we had at that time was talking about me to this visitor, who was Japanese. And so the conversation was mostly in Japanese, but I could follow some of it. And she said, well, he's now doing stitching. I thought to myself, I'm not doing stitching. This is just a little fun project. I thought, well, you know, I am doing stitching and patching.

So that simple comment and my negative reaction to it set me on a direction in which I completed a series of works, small works — again, back to small works, like my small weavings with metal print on that had come years and years before — I was back into that same format, same acrylic box frames, and decided that I needed to sort of find my own way with this patchwork thing.

So I decided that some of my jeans were wearing out and that I would cut them up into pieces, throw them in the washing machine so there would be a lot of wear and tear and raggedness around the edges, and then use traditional Japanese fabrics to patch them. And so I did that, and then I also acquired, or had already acquired, a variety of brocades and more elegant fabrics.

The first ones I used were indigo-dyed and were the same kind of fabrics that had been used to repair these actual Japanese garments that I had acquired, because they worked so nicely with the blue-jean fabric, denim. And so I did - one part of the series with hand stitching was using blue on blue [Levi's Deconstructed Suite], and then the other series was utilizing brocades and obi fabrics and other things with machine stitching [Bill Blass Deconstructed Suite]. So there were two very different styles I was working in, but in the same size and format, and then had an exhibition at my gallery in Kyoto a year or so later of those patchworks. And then I did, you know, some jean jackets patched with Japanese fabrics.

Jeans themselves are hard to work on. You have to do that entirely by hand because you can't get inside legs with sewing machines and so on, for the most part, but jackets I could work with [a] sewing machine. So I did some jackets also for that exhibition. And so that was the focus in working in that, both here. I was in Big Canoe by that time and was doing some patchwork here, and also in Japan, and then had that one exhibition there. And that's the only time I've actually shown those - although I considered continuing to work in that series - but I haven't shown it subsequently; just that one time.

And as I have spent more time in Japan — I need to back up, I think. There was another body of work which came between the final metal-leaf printing and the patchwork, so let's back up. I had long been intrigued by the use of fabric in Japan in the exterior outdoor environment, and used there to mark events and spaces for celebration. And the term used for these outdoor walls of fabric is maku, M-A-K-U.

And of the various places that I've traveled and been aware of, either through film or photographs, it seemed to be one of the cultures that used fabric in the outdoor setting most extensively. And one major use is the various kinds of festivals. For example, there's a festival with many little dealers selling food or souvenirs or toys for kids, whatever. They will often create this space with this red-and-white fabric, red-and-white-striped fabric. And those are sewn together to make a continuous fabric.

Another use is in funeral events. And those funerals, until recently — that's changed a bit, because there now are sort of funeral homes, which didn't exist before — funerals are more traditionally held at the home of the deceased. And the companies that were in charge of this would sort of sweep in, and the exterior of the building, would hang black-and-white-striped fabric, and set up a tent with tables for people to sign condolences and to sit and have tea, because the house itself would not accommodate very many people at one time, where the deceased would be in a casket. So that was another use.

Then sometimes when the traditional company or business is having a special event, purple and white is the common fabric that's draped outside the building. And there are the walls, and then there's sometimes a curtainlike drape in that situation. So red and white is most common — performance events, festivals, any number of other kind of instances where you will see the red-and-white fabric out, but anything that's a kind of celebration or special event. And then there's the funeral ones, which are black and white, and then there are special-event ones, which are elegant, purple and white.

And then sometimes there's turquoise, light turquoise and white, too, at performance events. So, for example, when there's a performance of Noh theater at one of the big shrines - which happens every year while we're there in Japan, which is good with the students - they have an outdoor Noh performance, so-called torch light performance. And the performance starts in the daylight and goes on for five hours or so. And then, when it becomes dark, they light torches, and it's really a wonderful experience. But the whole space is delineated by these walls of fabric. So that's sort of the most extensive use I've ever seen of this.

Anyway, I became interested in this whole idea of the fabric wall. And my first use of it was in the major retrospective exhibition I had in Atlanta in 2002, I think around that time. And I constructed rooms within the room, in the gallery space, of 10 feet square on each side, and hung a fabric that was not sewn together, so that the panels were able to move with — it was during the winter, so there would have been air moving in a room, so these panels moved a little bit.

And I used both Japanese traditional fabric and Western fabric, so there were wide and narrow, wide and narrow stripes going around this 10-foot square, which was suspended in the center of the gallery space. And then within — one was red and white, and one was purple and white. And in the red-and-white one, I constructed a circle of beautiful white river stones.

And in the purple-and-white one, I constructed a circle of pyrite crystals that were sort of gold, reflective gold quality to them. And one was dedicated to the moon, the white one, and the other one to the sun.

And they were a result of my one fabulous trip up Mount Fuji, because that experience was so incredible in so many ways, but visually - because I was with a young Korean friend who was visiting and agreed to go on this trip with me, as I didn't want to do it alone, and it would be more enjoyable to have someone come with me.

So when we started the trip, it was very foggy, and we couldn't see very far — halfway into the forest, for example. And so we could see some shrubs, and we could see the path and so on. And then by the time it became night and it was time to stay, fortunately, we were in a spot that had lots of dorm space for us. And maybe we stopped around 9:00 at night, and then got up around 2:00. And we were now above the clouds, and there was a full moon.

I mean, it was this incredible cloudscape, which if you haven't experienced — the closest thing to it is flying - and you see this total fluff of clouds below you. So we were standing on Mother Earth on this mountain. We were some distance above this cloud layer, and so we could see the full moon, which was shining on the clouds, and we could see the line of hikers who were ahead of us, sort of going up the mountain on switchback with their lights. You know, the professionals had headlamps on their head. Others of us had flashlights. But you could see these "fireflies" going up the mountain and this incredible moon.

So we started out on our hike. And, of course, the moon was moving. The earth rotates, I guess. And so the moon was moving across the sky, and it was destined to set over these clouds, behind the clouds. And it turned this incredible pink, and it was so awe-inspiring. At the same time, in the opposite direction, you could see the light of the sun starting to shine.

And the tradition is that you have to be on the top of Mount Fuji when the sun rises or scratch the whole trip; it just doesn't count. You have to be there for the sunrise. So — and the timing — so the timing is important, and we had given that consideration. And we were able to be at the top when the sun came up over the mountain. So the whole thing was so incredible.

So in designing these maku rooms, one was dedicated to the sun, and one was dedicated to the moon. So that was the beginning of my interest in this application of my inspiration from Japan, is to recreate these fabric walls. And there it was fairly traditionally done, except they weren't sewn together, and I used different widths of fabric. So it wasn't Japan transplanted to Atlanta, but it was me being influenced by these things in Japan and sort of doing my own version of them.

And my original intention was that - because the fabric was not sewn together - and I hoped that, with the cracks between the fabric and with some air moving, that people could see these about three-foot-diameter circles of stones or pyrite crystals. And then after the show was opened for a couple of days, I went back; so the guard said, well, some people want to go inside. And I said, well, okay, that's fine, which was not my original intention, but people had this interest of going inside to open the fabrics and going in.

So that was interesting to me, that there was this sort of interaction between the viewer and the piece, which usually "don't touch" is the mode of any exhibition. But I liked that idea there of people sort of going in and out of these rooms. Some would; some wouldn't. But at least it wasn't prohibited, and the guard didn't have to go into speeches about don't touch.

So then the idea of creating other kinds of walls occurred to me. I had started to collect fabrics in the flea markets and realized that occasionally I could buy a roll of fabric before it had been cut up and made into a kimono. So then I started shopping for these, and I found a dealer who sold rolls of fabric so that — not second-hand, but overruns or something. I mean, it wasn't a shop that was selling brand new fabric at all times. So both flea markets and this one dealer, I was able to acquire rolls of fabric, and some of them in colors which I felt were good, and others white and had them dyed to certain colors that I felt would fit into this imagined scheme of things in my head.

So then I decided to envision sort of three-dimensional walls. That is, instead of sewing them together or even placing them side by side in a single plane, that I would hang them in three different planes, so that it was this sort of dimensional fabric wall of colored vertical fabrics.

So that was my plan, and did some layouts and sketches and color combinations and did the work both here — not in this place; I wasn't here yet — but in Athens, and had some student help for cutting and sewing the fabrics into specific lengths. And then I made same-fabric tabs. Each panel, which is about 13 inches wide, had three tabs that would go over, a horizontal tube.

So I envisioned all of this, and then had dates for an exhibition, which I called "Maku: Walls of Celebration." And at some point in the planning of this, now assembling all these colors — I don't know; maybe altogether 24 or 30 colors of five or six panels each — I decided that it would be interesting and challenging for me to do two things. One is install this wall in this gallery, and I had made just a plain white fabric background, so that any spaces between — because there are windows in this gallery, so that any spaces in between would be filled in by this white fabric.

So I placed these three walls, sort of fragmented walls, because they were not continuous, three different, about two feet apart, and so that it was a kind of three-dimensional wall. And people were encouraged to come in and walk among them if they wanted to, or sit down and just look at them. And I associated each color combination — well, then I decided to change the combinations every two days. So every second day I would rearrange the panels and the colors, and each one of them had a theme that had to do with forest, pine forest, or seaside or — there was usually always some connection with nature, each one of these themes, which now the titles escape me a bit.

And I also had found a number of CDs that had nature sounds, seaside surf, birds twittering in the background, and sometimes music that suggested maybe a certain kind of atmosphere. So it was, "Please come in, sit down awhile, listen to the sounds," and hopefully get some sense of this environment.

So that was my first exploration with changing things on a — not a daily basis, but frequently. And then, as I was talking about this to one of my good friends, he said, oh, I think maybe you should consider some kind of performance in this space. Hmm, I thought; well, that sounds interesting. "What, do you have someone in mind?" He said, yes, I know a dancer who is an expert in the style of dance called Butoh, which was a kind of postwar avant-garde style that started in Japan that has — it's hard to define, although it is defined. You can look it up on any search.

And it has to — it expresses human emotion in a very specific kind of movement style, which is hard for me to describe, not being someone who's very knowledgeable about dance. Oftentimes the dancers are in white makeup and sometimes nearly nude, with a small white costume on. The whole body is white. So that whiteness, in almost ghostlike appearance, is part of what Butoh is about.

And so I met this woman [Ima Tenko] who had been practicing this dance form and has a small group that she performs with in the Kyoto area, and she was very interested in this idea, which didn't exist except in my mind and my description, because it's hard to do this set-up anywhere else. Like most installation work, you don't — it doesn't exist until you get into the space where you are, and there it is.

But she could understand what I was talking about. And I said, look at these colors that I have here and see what of them appeals to you. She chose the light pink. And so I did an installation with this light pink and white. And so we set it up — the show idea started. We set this white and pink arrangement. She came in one day after the gallery was closed, and she sort of just walked through this space, and she suggested some change of position of the various panels, but very minor.

And some of them — I don't know whose idea it was to have — I think probably hers or in our discussions. A couple of panels were going to be long and fall onto the floor, and then there were scraps left over. And she said, well, maybe I can use some of these, too. So she spent, like, 15 minutes in this space. Then, the day of the performance, it was on the announcement card that there would be a performance.

And this gallery is small, and it's hard to be inside the gallery when anything is going on, so that the viewers are sort of outside in a hallway, and you're looking into the gallery through an open doorway. So it's a little bit strange. If it was one large space - which later she did the same performance in Tokyo, and it was one open space, and it worked in a different way. There was not any kind of negative aspect about the arrangement in Kyoto; it was just different. And she had to adjust to the space in a different way.

So there was no music, no sound in any way, but she did this incredible 15- or 20-minute performance in which she moved in and around these fabrics, and pulled some of it out, and had this piece that she used. And she had on herself a kind of traditional very light, thin fabric, like kimono, which she wore backward. And it was perfect with the white and the pink. So that was the first time to be involved in any kind of performance event, and the reaction was quite positive to that performance and the whole idea of using these fabrics in quite a different way.

So I did that installation in Kyoto, and then I had a student at Georgia who had gotten involved in dance and performance while she was a fabric student. So we talked a lot about the possibility of collaborating, and we got a grant, a small grant from the university to do that. And so we set a similar situation up, not with so many colors, but — what did we do? We did have some color, but it was more of a solid white fabric wall in which the dancers were able to move through and in and out of.

So she choreographed three different pieces. I know; that's why we had to have a plain background, because we wanted to combine music and video and installation and dance. So on a trip to — one of my fall trips to Kyoto, I photographed bamboo forest and a pine forest and a stream with maple trees. So she choreographed three different events, three different segments, and musician friends composed music that varied for each one of these.

And the dancers wore — in one instance they wore a white kimono, antique white kimono that I had. And another — she designed two other sets of costumes, so that the projection was, of course, on the background, but also on the dancers. And their shadows on the back wall of fabric created a kind of duet in black shadow. So the image was projected on them, and then the shadow was behind them.

So it was a really interesting combination of video and installation and dance and music. And one of the — that was one event with the white kimono. Another was using long fabric, which the dancers interacted with, and so the imagery was projected on this fabric as well as on the background and shadow. So that was my second involvement with performance and installation.

I know we've wandered a bit off of working environment, but I think, to me, what's happened in each one of these environments, working situations, has been what's been important. And how I've been able to sort of easily transport my work from one of these situations to another, with, of course, some interruption, but always been able to figure out how I can do what I needed to do in the space that was available, rather than having one set — this lower floor is as big as this whole space, and I have worked there. But there are things I want to do to make it a better working space. Hopefully, when I retire, I'll be able to do that.

So I will have finally, I think, established a more permanent studio here than I've had in other places where I've worked. I mean, in Georgia, when I've had spaces at the university, they've moved around. In Japan they certainly have moved around. And it's starting — I mean, I'm able to start working here in this studio space, as well. So the work and the space have always sort of been something that's worked together.

MS. SHEA: And then also the impact of your travels and the things that you've seen.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, right.

MS. SHEA: And gathered, with the fabrics.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Right, right. So, you know, it's just been — the whole Japan experience has influenced my work so dramatically in so many ways — materials, concept, inspiration. All these things have come into play in the work that I've done, and I've been able to do it wherever I find myself.

MS. SHEA: Do you think, once you're retired, you will be able to continue working there?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, yeah.

MS. SHEA: Is that your plan?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. The house that we're in, the landlord has indicated he wants to tear down, rebuild, remodel, or something. So this may be the last year in that space. So I'll find that out in March, whether he's going ahead with the plan that our lease in October would be the end of that experience.

And then also my housemate, who is an Italian physicist — and we get along very well. He lives there the whole time, and I come and go — whether he'll be staying on, and whether we can work out some arrangement together again to share - because I want to be there certain times of each year, but I don't want to move there. I want to be able to keep this rotation of spaces.

MS. SHEA: Keep the combination of both.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Right, right.

MS. SHEA: Well, let's take a little break.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, let's do that.

[END CD 5 TR 2.]

MS. SHEA: We're back once again. This is Josephine Shea with Glen Kaufman in the mountains of —

MR. KAUFMAN: North Georgia.

MS. SHEA: — North Georgia at Big Canoe. The nearest, closest, smallest town is Marble Hill — on February 23, 2008, for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and this is disc number two [six].

The next question on my list is kind of an interesting one. How do you feel, or do you feel there is an element of play in your work?

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, you know, we talked about the patchwork things, and they're actually — in a few of those examples, there was something that almost bordered on cute - which I totally discourage my students from coming up with anything that's cute, but there were some little patches that you sew on kids' clothes that I found in Japan. So that probably is the one instance when I can say there was the teeniest little smidgen of play in work.

Other than that — well, there's some kind of hidden — a little bit of hidden imagery in some of my printed work, as well. I did one series, a diptych of two horizontal panels, and the basic imagery was of a beautiful wall in Kyoto that was made up partly of recycled roof tiles, and it had a nice negative-positive contrast in imagery. And it had one little tiny space in the bottom, and the figures were probably less than half-inch in height; probably like three-eighths or a quarter of an inch. I had a herd of cows. But anyone looking at it without instruction would probably never see them.

So there have been a few occasions. And also when I mentioned to you this long panel that I did using obi fabric, and the title was November Tale. What I did was the November the year before I actually made the piece, I had my camera with me every day and took photographs of all encounters with people and exhibitions and physical environment, and then put it all together in this sort of narrative.

And within that, there were a few things I played around with that were sort of playful; so those two instances. A few of the printed works, right, sort of hid some little thing in, and then the patchwork, where I used some commercially available little patches. And I can't remember specifically. One of them had a rooster standing on top of a wheel that you use to navigate ships with. And I don't remember; there was some title that indicated this little bit of playfulness.

But generally, I would say it's not a major factor. As I think about it, it worked itself into my work on a few occasions, which I would have said probably, play? Not me. But there it is, lurking in the background.

MS. SHEA: You talk about your involvement with the community, and you mentioned the Surface Design Association. I guess one of the bigger-picture questions is, how do you see American fiber on an international scale, and do you feel it's moving in any particular direction?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, just a comment about the community. If it's a community of artists, then I would say Japan is where I have that community of artists. I mean, I have colleagues here in the School of Art and artists that I know, a few in Atlanta, as well, but it's not a community. It's individuals.

And I know a number of my colleagues at Georgia, at the university, have a lot of, you know, social and professional interaction with other members of the faculty, but since my work time is spent elsewhere - my free time, my work time, both have been elsewhere for so many years, and I have this wonderful community of friends and fellow artists and gallery owners in Japan, that if there's a community that I have, talk about work and look at work together and have discussions about work, it definitely would be in Japan, yeah.

In terms of the place of rank, I think that with the publications that are available now, and with, to some degree, exhibitions — one way I judge it is how American artists are seen in Japan, because that gives more of a sense of an international ranking. I don't know if "ranking" is the right word for it even, because it would be difficult to rank things.

But I think in Japan, for example, American fiber art particularly, because that's what I'm most familiar with, is given a great deal of interest and respect, a lot of questioning, because American artists, fiber artists — not all; a certain percentage, and I wouldn't even put a figure on it — deal with personal issues, personal imagery, whether it's photographs of them as a child or their grandmother or whoever was important in their lives - is completely lacking in Japanese fiber work.

MS. SHEA: Isn't that also — I mean, I don't know if this is true or not true, but what I've heard is in Japan the emphasis is more on society and less on the individual.

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, that's true. I mean, the group is the most important part of the social structure, rather than the individual. And I think it isn't as though people don't have these connections with their own lives and their families, relatives, friends, whatever, but it's very, very rare that it turns up in their work.

And, generally speaking, there is less representational and figurative work, whether it's print or tapestry or even digital weaving now, where photographs are so easily transferred. All of that technology is available to the Japanese artists, but they tend to deal with themes like wind, air, water, nature in a general sense.

And only one artist that I'm aware of deals with issues like societies producing waste materials and concern with body weight and figures, all of these kinds of eating habits. Just one of the many artists that I'm aware of in Japan deals at all with these kind of social issues, which is not so much a personal thing about her, but it's her take on Japanese and international society. But she is absolutely unique in that regard.

But when I first went to Japan and had my first show there, it was working with gloves, which I had done for a number of years. And so those early shows were the glove, and I got a lot of press on it and a lot of attention. And I think that, in terms of the Japanese, this was something that was so different from anything they had seen before — small in scale, but still something, you know, recognizable, and the glove treated in quite a different way other than something you wear and put on for a variety of reasons.

So people were still, oh, you're the one who did the gloves; you know, 20 years later I would still get. And that's — and I guess what it is, it's a reaction to a kind of American approach to fiber art. You know, we were so impressed in the '60s with the European art — I mean, the European fiber art, Abakanowicz and the Polish and the Yugoslav and other artists in Europe - so it made a big splash in the big show at the Modern, "Wall Hangings," in the late '60s, early '70s.

So, you know, we had a sense of this really exciting work was going on in Europe. And then some of us saw illustrations from the big Biennale in Lausanne over the many, many years, and then finally I was able to go there one time, at least when the exhibit was up, to get a sense of how — then a sense of how the American art stood up with the European. And later the Japanese began to show in that exhibition, as well, before the whole thing died.

So I think that the American art has ranked near — it's kind of — it's hard to say equal, but each of these cultures — and I hate to throw all the European countries together into one — but there's kind of commonality there. And there certainly is a quality about Japanese fiber art. In America there are so many things going on, but generally not the kind of simple installation works that depend a lot on the nature of material, and to some degree construction, as well, that we find in Japan. It doesn't seem to exist here.

There is a kind of unique aspect to much of the Japanese fiber work. And I think in America, it's diversity. In Japan there is a kind of common feeling through much of the fiber work. And I think that, for me, it's interesting to be so frequently in another culture, to look back or get reactions from Japanese.

Now the international shows are so few. I mean, there's the big one I was in last summer in Poland, and then there's — China is trying to revive this Lausanne thing. And I've not seen it nor been involved in their exhibitions. But there are so few international exhibitions, number one, and there's also very few traveling exhibitions.

I've been in a number of exhibitions that have traveled from — usually organized in the U.S. and then shown elsewhere, in Europe. One circulated through Europe and on to Australia, some of the miniature shows, and then some also went to Africa, and others went to the Far East. But those, there doesn't seem to be funding or curatorial interest in doing that kind of international show.

The Japanese have shown a lot of places. They've had major shows in Australia, in the U.K., which is continuing, because there's one woman in U.K. who's really interested in Japanese fiber art, and she always has one project after another that involves Japanese fiber artists and often exhibiting in various locations in U.K. But there's very few of that, those big shows moving around the world, these days. So what we know mostly is from publications rather than experiencing it ourselves.

MS. SHEA: You have worked and traveled, it sounds like, and visited quite a bit, to Korea.


MS. SHEA: How do you — as you make that comparison, Korea to Japan, because I noticed that there's an upcoming conference, and many of the artists that are going to be talking about their work are from Korea. And it was your student, I think, that was Korean, that just had this exhibition down in Florida.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, right. Yeah.

MS. SHEA: Can you talk about that?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, that's an interesting idea to think about. I was fortunate. This is going to be a little bit roundabout way to get to answer your question, maybe, or maybe it's answering it from the get-go.

My first visit to Korea was at a time when my son and daughter-in-law, who was born in Seoul, were visiting me in Japan and then going on to Korea. And I had an exhibition before my trip — they were a little bit ahead. They visited me in Japan. Then they went to Korea, and I was to join them. And prior to that, I had an exhibition in Tokyo and showing, I think, some of my work, you know, printed with metal leaf. I think it was a small-scale work at that time. I can't remember the exact date.

And while I was at the exhibition, someone came to the show, someone I knew, and said, oh, there's an exhibition of Korean fiber art at the consulate or someplace in Tokyo. Would you like to go? I said, yeah, it sounds great. So we went. And there was a great variety of work. At that time — you know, we're talking 15 years ago at least — there was a lot of interest — and I've asked my Korean friends about this, and they haven't come up with the answer yet — a lot of activity in European-style flat tapestry weaving — a lot, much more than in Japan.

And I've asked about this. For example, the school that my subsequent student graduated from in Korea, the whole fiber program was tapestry weaving. A few students did a few other things. I mean, they all were encouraged to try a few other things, but the emphasis was on tapestry weaving, and that's what he did when he was there.

So that was one difference early on. And I think that probably continues to some degree still today, that there are a lot of schools and a lot of artists who are doing traditional European-style, I would say — you know, because it didn't originate here in that country — tapestry weaving, which didn't exist very much in Japan and still doesn't. There are a few artists who are doing it, but not to the same degree. So that was one difference.

So I met many of these fiber artists, including tapestry weavers - one woman who also is working with gloves and has worked with gloves for many, many years and continues to work with gloves; others doing some dyeing work. That was interesting and unique, I thought, at that time.

And so I met — all these people were there for that opening, all these Korean fiber artists. I mean, it was just the most perfect thing for me, because three or four weeks later, I'm there myself, and they all want me to come and lecture at their schools and want to meet me and have dinner together. I never would have had that opportunity to meet so many people at one time.

MS. SHEA: And it's interesting, the fact — that one question, do you want to go and see this exhibition?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes, yes, exactly. So I went there with these wonderful contacts, both in Seoul and the one professor, an artist, whose work I have in my hallway here, was also at this event in Tokyo and was exhibiting there. And then I met him again in Tokyo. He came up to one of my lectures. And then he invited me to Pusan [Busan, Korea], and that's where I met this student, and that whole involvement with Pusan and the school there sort of evolved.

So now Korean artists in the U.S. are getting a lot of attention in the U.S. And I've not seen a lot of it, in actuality, but I've seen photographs. For example, Brown Grotta has a number, two or three or more, Korean artists now in their stable, and Korean artists have come to study at Cranbrook and other schools, and some of them have gone back and some of them have stayed here in the U.S.

So there is a presence of Korean fiber artists and artists generally. I was talking about this to my former student. In Athens we have one, two, three — three Korean or Korean-American faculty members in our department. And we had an art historian a few years ago, but she moved on. And he was recently at East Carolina [University, Greenville, NC], and he said, oh, there's one or two Korean artists there, too.

And this — I don't know that this is some kind of new phenomenon, but there is an interest in Korean artists, young students, coming to study here in the U.S., not just at Cranbrook but other places, as well. Some of the Korean work that I know is interesting to me, because I have this long interest in garment as object — history of costume, history of garments, but also garment as something not necessarily to wear but as an inspiration for form and shape. And there seem to be a number of Korean artists who are working with traditional Korean costume, and also traditional Korean — and this is — well, no, I should back off.

There is this traditional Korean wrapping cloth called pojagi, which is pieced and appliqued of, again, sort of like our American quilt tradition, which is using cast-off or leftover fabrics or recycled fabrics. Well, they have the same tradition in Korea, and often it's using rather transparent silks or really bright ones, the sort of monochromatic transparent kind of fabric used in these traditional ones.

And then Korean artists today have picked up on this and used this patchwork idea. And there was an international — I don't know how international it was; it was concentrated on Korean artists. Anyway, pojagi-inspired work that was mounted in Korea, and my former student was invited to participate in that, and one of the students, a Korean student who went to Cranbrook, later taught at Kingswood [School, MI], and now is at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia as area chair of their fiber program.

So I'm not sure I'm answering the difference between the work, but I'm just saying that the Korean presence seems to be growing in recent years.

MS. SHEA: Especially, you know — I think of it as a relatively small country -

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, it is, yeah.

MS. SHEA: — to have such —

MR. KAUFMAN: But, of course, ceramic artists, as well; you know, my own colleague, Sun-ku [Yuh], who's gotten a lot of attention internationally and here in the U.S., with major exhibitions in Chelsea and other places, as well. And in ceramics I used to have more connection with a ceramic group. There was a group in Kyoto and a group in Seoul. Maybe they gathered in people from not just those tight communities, but they would often have exchange exhibitions, one year in Seoul, the next year in Kyoto. And I was able to travel, at least on one occasion, with that group, and so got to know a number of those ceramic artists.

And there are similarities and differences. And I think that, in many ways, traditional Korean folk pottery is somewhat different from the Japanese, although, interestingly, when — this is my understanding of the so-called Mingei movement, the folk art movement, folk craft movement, was started by Yanagi and others who, during the Japanese occupation of Korea, traveled in Korea and saw folk pottery. And it was one of their inspirations in the birth of this folk art movement, was Japanese people in Korea choosing those things and forming a kind of movement of work that was, for the most part, by unnamed, unknown craftsmen, useful everyday work.

So I'd say there still is a unique characteristic to the Japanese fiber installation works, which tend to be large and minimal. And I haven't seen as much of that kind of work coming out of Korea as I have modular work or work in modules that can create — you know, can fill a large space or collapsible work. Like one good friend there does a lot with knitting, and she can stretch this stuff all over the place, and it can all be packed in a box. And I don't see exactly that same kind of work.

But then, you know, if I'm not in Korea as much, and I don't see international publications, it's hard to keep total track of what's going on. And I'm not much of an Internet cruiser, where I'm sure I could find more imagery. I use it when I need it as a necessary tool, but I simply can't find that time that my students seem to, to explore endlessly YouTube and My Face and Facebook. It's just — you know, it has to be a generational thing. I know there are others my age who are much more into it than I am, but that's not my bag right now.

What's next? Influences? That's an interesting point, maybe, to talk a little about influences. It's hard for me to say that specific artists are influences on me in terms of their work; work ethic and interests, like Ed Rossbach, for instance, this incredible knowledge of and incorporation of the history of fabrics and textiles into his own work. I've always admired him for that. And there are other artists that I can admire for what they've accomplished. But in terms of being influenced, this may be something other people could more easily say about my work than I can, but there's no sort of conscious influence of other people.

What I think has influenced me is this sort of international travel. There's no question about that; I mean, living in Japan and visiting in Korea and Thailand and Malaysia, for example. You know, imagery — I picked imagery from all of these places, which then was incorporated into the work. And my whole interest in history of fabric, textile, costume, has certainly also influenced my work.

So travel and study of history, rather than art movements or individuals, I think, have been the strongest influences on my work. Not that I feel that I'm doing something absolutely unique that no one else has ever done - although I do think that when I began using silk screen, photo silk screen and photography — photography, photo silk screen, metal-leaf application — was a unique use of those materials.

And I don't know that I've had influence, but since I began that work, especially in Japan, I can see a lot more use of metal leaf - not in my way at all, just metal leaf, seems to have increased in its use. And I've had lots of questions from people who are interested to know the technique and the process. And without these specific materials that are available in Japan, you know, it's hard for me to tell anyone else how to go about this.

I mean, there is leaf — there's a leaf supplier in New York, for example, and it's a different kind of leaf than I use and different kinds of adhesives. It's not necessarily made for screen printing. It's made for, you know, applying to the painted surface or picture frames or other kinds of use of leaf.

But when my work is exhibited or published, there are a lot of questions about it because, you know, of course, it's interesting, a different process. "Why don't you come and do a workshop?" No, I can't, because — number one, not that I think this is such a unique process, that I'm the only one who can do it, but you just need all these materials. And I don't have this available here in any great supply to do that kind of thing, and it was just too problematic.

So I never have done a workshop on metal-leaf application; but in that case, influenced by traditional Japanese textiles, kimono and obi, that had the metal leaf applied to them, and saw, hmm, this must have other possibilities. And that's when I started that whole 15 years of work. And since then, it's been sort of a new thing every year - which I remember one museum collection that I was already in, and are you interested in something in the future? Well, yes, if it represents a definite movement in your work or a definite new phase. Well, these phases keep changing all the time, and I'm not sure that they would be interested in.

Then this installation — I mean, what do you do with an installation? How do you send that off and expect any museum to be able to deal with it? It's just not — it's not something that's collectible and certainly individually purchasable either. So that's where I am right now, trying to — I'm not trying to do something different every year; it's just that something new interests me. And that interest seems to have a rather short life, and then I'm on to something else. So after the 15 years of doing this very precise kind of thing, now I sort of, I don't know, felt liberated and interested in doing other kinds of things. Who knows where it leads next?

MS. SHEA: You mentioned that you don't, maybe, spend as much time as some do on the Internet. Is there anything in particular, maybe not specifically, say, craft-related, but arts-related that you like to read, biographies or anything?

MR. KAUFMAN: Not particularly. My focus tends to be, again — how shall I say it? I like to read Japanese authors, and Murakami Haruki is one of them, who continues to publish many books with very bizarre plot lines. And I do — you know, I subscribe to too many magazines already - not so much the general art magazines - although, for example, I try to, not as much as I need to, visit galleries in Atlanta, and had a fantastic time in New York, where I had not been for 10 years, exploring Chelsea galleries. And that was really exciting to me to see, you know, in the flesh.

And I don't subscribe to the general art magazines, so that my students often are teaching me about the newest things. And I know my colleagues religiously go through Artforum and Art in America, and so on and so on. And I just — I'm not obsessed about or — I wouldn't say not interested at all, but I don't have a driving interest to stay abreast of all the latest, although when I see it in actuality, I find things very exciting.

But to read the mags and to be exposed in that way — I mean, I get American Craft. I get Fiberarts. I get Surface Design Journal. And I try to at least page through them each issue, but they just pile up with all the rest of — maybe when I have more time, but who knows?

MS. SHEA: Tell me, in kind of — I don't know; I think maybe you were starting to think about this as you're looking at retirement — some kind of, I guess — I don't know if it's even possible to do this, but about your teaching experience. And how do you feel about that, because that's been a big part of your life?

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, right. Well, that's an interesting question, which I'm not sure I have, you know, the final answer to.

MS. SHEA: [Laughs] The five-minute answer to.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, right. But during the years that I taught, and before Japan, when I had this, you know, long block of time, which I could devote to studio work, I was doing some summer workshops - not just summer, but workshops to weaving groups and so on around the U.S. In the late '60s and '70s I taught at Arrowmont several summers. I did workshops in various places, usually structure-related — weaving, structure-related, rather than surface, because I wasn't much into surface until I started working in Japan.

So once I was teaching for six months and working in my studio in Kyoto for six months, I wasn't really interested in doing other, kind of, teaching and never explored that, never — I would get some inquiries, but would not follow up on them, or would just say, I'm really not interested in that. So it'll be interesting to see how I cope with non teaching. I know that I will miss — I enjoy the interaction with the people and the students, although I'm very happy many times spending whatever time I have alone, studio time, of course.

Subsequent to that, one assistant — I did have two or three others, but was never the same - who could sort of anticipate what I was doing. One of them was a ceramic student. Another was an art historian. And they would be helpful to me, but not in the same, direct sitting next to me, doing what I'm doing kind of way.

So I know that the fact of being away from people is going to create some new challenges for me, you know, how to solve that problem of lack of interaction with people. But I don't see it as something that's going to lead me to accept workshop invitations, if they should even come my way - I mean, I've been so out of it for so long — or even being able to attend the Surface Design Association Conference, because it always has been early June, when I'm in Japan.

So the one in 2009 is a possibility that I will be free to go again and reconnect with old colleagues and meet lots of new people. So the teaching thing — the thoughts I have about it now is that it's time to put that part of my life to rest and to continue my own work, continue travel, and whatever else might come along.

But we were talking earlier about the slide collection and all of the materials that I've connected. What's the best repository? How can that be best kept and used? And it's something I will think about. There's also a textile study collection that I've assembled over the period of years, which has a lot of pre-Colombian/Peruvian material. It has lots of Japanese material. It has a nice collection of European prints and wovens from the 18th and 19th century.

That was a gift to us by a sculptor who gathered these things when he lived in Paris many years ago; then a smattering of African and South American; and we also had a huge donation of Uzbekistan embroideries. So there's all of this also to deal with. And I'm committed to devoting some time to both this textile collection and the slides over the next years, and hopefully have some little corner of school where I can work on these things.

But in terms of the teaching itself, I'm sure that there were many aspects of it. At the same time, as I'm going through this last semester, I'm thinking, oh, this is the last time I have to give that lecture. It's the last time I have to teach that particular weaving project. So, you know, I may feel quite differently when it's all over.

MS. SHEA: You might go through withdrawal.

MR. KAUFMAN: I may. I may well. I mean, when I can't get up here to the mountains on a weekend, I go through withdrawal. I'm very unhappy if I have to stay in Athens. There are times when I have driven back to Athens on a Saturday night because some important opening or event is going, and come back here, four hours' driving, to show up at some friend or student's event, which I think is important. But, yeah, I may suffer from teaching withdrawal, as well. We'll see.

[END CD 6 TR 1.]

MS. SHEA: You came, academically, from the teaching — learning how to teach —


MS. SHEA: — philosophy. Do you feel that you have developed that or honed that in any particular way over these years?

MR. KAUFMAN: That's an interesting question.

MS. SHEA: I mean, I'm just asking since I've never been in one of your classes. Do you tend to show through demonstration, to let people work things out on their own, a combination of both? Do you feel it's most helpful to give people feedback, or —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, okay.

MS. SHEA: What do you think is kind of like — I guess it's a very American idea of effective.

MR. KAUFMAN: Right, yeah. Well, let's take weaving, for example. Yeah, I mean, there's a certain amount of technique and process demonstration, and then constantly reminding students of what that is, because they wander off-track so much. And I'm constantly telling them, repeating the same things over and over and over again — especially I'm aware of it this semester — I say, you know, "Over 50 years of weaving, I have determined that this is not only my way, but it's the best way. And I realize there are other weavers out there who all have their own best way. But if you're in my class, and I see you doing it the worst way, I will not hesitate to tell you that."

So, yeah, I have developed a very specific approach to process. And in weaving, once you have learned the basics, then it's sort of fine-tuning, and that's a one-on-one thing. When I was teaching surface design, which is, you know, dye and print, then each new process required a specific kind of demonstration. And there wasn't always a lot of carry-over from using this kind of pigment and block printing to this kind of dye and brush application.

So there was — I tried — it was necessary to sort of adjust my teaching approach to whatever the subject at hand was. And what I might have failed to do over many years is to expose students, except in the history course, where we do get up to the present era and I do show them — I mean, they don't have a whole lot of time, because it's bang, bang, bang, bang along the whole course of this; it should be a two-semester course, but I've done it in one semester for these many years, six hours of lectures a week, from Stone Age to the present. And so they do see current art there.

And I've always felt a certain reluctance to show students my own work, number one, or other contemporary work, with the thought that they might better develop their ideas without this kind of influence. And I know this is not a universal approach to teaching. A lot of my colleagues will show, I don't know, on a weekly basis, or frequently, current work, and they probably show historic work, as well. But I have tended to put that into the context of these specific courses that I teach, one on the total history of fabrics and the one on Japanese fabrics. I do show contemporary work there and video. We have video, so that they get a sense of, you know, what contemporary Japanese artists are doing.

Let's see. So another approach, I guess, in the history course is expose, expose, expose, expose to as much material — and I know it's overwhelming to the students; it's sometimes overwhelming to me. But I feel that instead of editing down to what might be some kind of basics, which is hard to determine - I mean, do you just show one example of a brocade, 18th- or 19th-century French brocade? No, you have to show this kind of design and that kind of design and this sort of coloring.

So in terms of that kind of approach, I've always felt kind of overexposure is better than highly edited in terms of exposing students to possibilities and to imagery and to development of fabric over the long historic period that we have been dealing with these issues.

MS. SHEA: And is it different for your graduate students? I wondered about that.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Well, dependent on what their background is, then, with graduate students, if they come in with a good background, then they almost immediately start in their own specific research, and work, and then arranging weekly, biweekly contacts with them to talk about their work and critique their work.

And we try, depending on the group — the group dynamics change a lot. So sometimes there is real synergy between students and wanting to talk about each others' work, and other times there's, kind of, silence. So we try to judge where we are and what seems to work best for each student.

Sometimes group is good. We do a lot of group discussion with the undergraduates, and to some degree the graduate students, as well. And the graduate students also have opportunity to interact with the sculptors and the ceramic artists in other kinds of courses that they're taking. But, yeah, individual work and critique with the graduate students, who are at that point of having process well established, and can sort of do whatever they want, then it's definitely encouraging them to follow their own muse and —

MS. SHEA: And do you tend to, or very often, bring in other artists or curators or writers?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. We don't have a whole lot of opportunity for that. We do have [a] visiting artists program, and we do occasionally bring those artists in. But we've not been very successful in having the committee who's in charge of that, except our recommendations about people who are more geared into fiber. So that's been somewhat of a frustration. And in the past, we've been able to bring in, occasionally, some outside visitors.

Budget is one of the problems there that limits the number of people that we can bring in. But we try to bring in one or two a year that can interact with the students, both undergraduates and graduates, both in terms of career as designers and career as artists. So, yes, we try to do that, but it could — and I think Clay is interested in pursuing this aspect, as well, more than I have, you know.

Somehow one gets into a routine, and you just do the things you do, and you try to do them the best you can, but new ideas don't always flow in as readily when you've been in place for so many years. And that's why I think it's time to leave and time to get [a] fresh, new look on this. And I can already see new directions developing, and I think that would be good for the students and the program.

MS. SHEA:  I don't think I asked this before, but if you're giving advice, you must, from time to time, be put in that position of giving someone advice who's interested in fiber, just starting out. What kind of things would you suggest to them?

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, I can give you [an] example - for the undergraduate, for example. We do — each of the areas in the school, which is, I don't know, seven or eight or nine — I can't even keep track — we have a freshman program where they're given lots of basic information, and each one of our areas goes and talks to the students with a PowerPoint presentation.

So after that talk, sometimes I get students coming up who are very excited and want to know more about it, and so we'll have a short conversation then, or they'll make an appointment to come see me later, or they'll turn up. That's freshmen. So maybe end of their sophomore year, they might then be able to take our first course, 2000-level course.

And so either they're already interested in fabric and want to know more about it, so I arrange to talk with them and outline the program, what it is, and talk about the possibilities for their career and then allow them to ask questions. So when we get to that point, then they make a decision whether they're going to commit to us as a major, after they've taken this first course, and we see how they operate, and they get an idea of what we're about. And then explain to them the different courses and the aspects of the program and why I feel they're important, and then for them to understand that this is very time-consuming. They have to be able to commit a lot of time to working in the studio rather than elsewhere, and try to get that across to them, early on, that a lot of time is needed to be successful. And then, if they're interested in a job after they graduate, then to emphasize the need to develop [a] portfolio and to be able to show a great diversity — drawing, painting, weaving, print design, printed fabrics, portfolio, flat-pattern design — in order to interest, you know, a potential employer in their range of activities.

Graduate students — some of them are very much interested in teaching, and there are so few positions out there. We have, you know, this one teaching assistantship, which we assign to a graduate student. Sometimes they get it for two years running, sometimes just one, depending on how things work out in terms of their timing.

And then they become aware of the art scene, and I try to help them understand what's out there and who's doing what and to be aware of the publications and to be aware of exhibitions that they might want to enter their work in, and then to try to mentor them in terms of the teaching process and to develop their style, not necessarily the way I do it, but to have this sensitivity to what the students need and not to be, you know, over-influenced by what students themselves, who are so naive about what they need to learn — I mean, does a student know what they need to learn, or do I know what they need to learn? That's always the challenge in teaching.

So those are the kinds of things that I try to talk to the students about, depending on where they are, what level they're at, and what their goals are, in terms of what they want to do once they finish the program or get a degree.

MS. SHEA: I think we've talked about this question some, but maybe there is — maybe you'd like to add. Where do you get ideas for your work? We talked about travel —

MR. KAUFMAN: Travel, history, yeah, exposure to — patchwork, for example, that all started from — the maku started from seeing it in Japan and reinterpreting it; the patchwork, the same, seeing it traditionally done there and purchasing some pieces of it, and then trying to reinterpret that in my way; interest in the history of garment and how they have been influential in how we think about culture, in terms of what we wear.

And my recent interest has focused around garment issues, either historic or contemporary use of garments, as a kind of indication of historical significance or current - like I did a project with jeans two years ago; just the idea of jeans as a kind of iconic garment around the world. I don't care what — if you see photographs of rioters in Kosovo or Africa, or Chinese on a bicycle: jeans, jeans, jeans.

And so I did a project using jeans a few years ago in which I created a kind of sculpture installation with free-standing jeans that were in various configurations. One was a lineup to use a restroom. Another was everyone was looking out the window. Another time they were arranged in military formation. Another time they were circling someone who was wearing different-colored jeans.

So that — and I had a really good conversation with a Japanese friend about that who was aware of jeans years ago when she came to America to visit and saw this pervasive aspect of it and how in Japan, particularly, it's a big thing, as it is in so many different cultures. So those kinds of influences and origins have been important.

Was there something else about the question we could zero in on?

MS. SHEA: The next question, it sounds like you talked about this a little bit. In what ways do political and social commentaries figure into your work?

MR. KAUFMAN: A little bit. This most recent work, it definitely — and I don't know if I've described that to you or not - with the red garments. Have we talked about the red garments?


MR. KAUFMAN: Okay. I was invited to this big international triennial in Łódź in Poland, and that is an invitation. Each country has a nominator, and our nominator is Camille Cook, who was the founder of the Friends of Fiber Art International. And my friend in Kyoto, a good friend and gallery owner there [Keiko Kawashima], has been involved in this selection process for a number of years, as well, so she's selecting Japanese artists. Camille was selecting American artists.

So I was always curious about this show, and had seen the catalogue, and seen the publications and various journals with photographs of this exhibition. And so I was fortunate to be invited to be in the one last year, 2007, and thought about the various things I'd already done, and felt that this was a chance to do something quite different, in one sense.

In another sense, it was a kind of revisit to things that I had done before. I had worked with plastics in the late '60s, early '70s, and had made garment forms at that time. And it seemed somehow — it's hard to say how all of this comes together. I mean, I can explain it more easily after it's all done than I can from the beginning - but interest in garments, and interest in plastic as a contemporary material, interest in recycling with the incredible amount of waste material that we have in our culture today, all sort of came together.

The historical part was inspired by Mesopotamian garments from third millennium B.C. I'm not sure exactly on that date without doing a little more — going back to my files. But anyway, there was a garment at that time shown in sculpture from Mesopotamia - you know, current Iraq — that had layers. It was inspired by a sheepskin or fleecy garment, and it was shown in layers in the sculpture, and it's something that's intrigued me for a long time. And we can also — we can see the figures with these garments on, usually small stone carvings, or we can see- there's a famous standing goat from Mesopotamia that's standing against a tree. And he also has these almost leaflike shapes.

MS. SHEA: I think I remember the kind of curly —

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes. Well, then there's the curly one, yes. There's the leaflike shapes, and then there's the curly ones.

MS. SHEA: Okay.

MR. KAUFMAN: And so I've known about this for a long time, teaching the history course. And there's a Greek word, kaunakes, that applies to this garment and fabric, and some small fragment, which I don't think has ever been photographed, or I haven't seen in photograph, a small fragment exists of this woven fabric that is, in a sense, duplicating the fleecy quality of a sheepskin. And whether these figures are wearing sheepskins or wearing garments, woven garments, is not an answerable question, other than we know from historical evidence that there was — this fabric did exist, and it does have a name.

So somehow putting together the historic garment, the idea of plastic, and our local newspaper in Athens comes delivered in a red plastic bag, a newspaper bag, and the Atlanta paper comes in a clear one. But the red one is the one in Athens. And I thought, I save all the plastic bags, and eventually they go into recycling. But I thought, hmm, well, maybe I could use those red plastic bags somehow, because they could be given a layered look. And so I mentioned this to a neighbor, and they started saving them, and I started saving them.

And then I thought, well, how am I going to put this together? And I had — previously I had woven a kind of not-fleecy garment. I mean, it was, in a sense, fleecy, but it was sort of loop-pile woven. And so it had a bulky feeling, and it was in clear plastic that I purchased. It wasn't recycled. And that was in the late '70s. So I already had this kind of — I called them poly-cloaks, because they were made of polyethylene.

And so all these ideas started generating a direction toward this exhibition in Poland. And I thought, okay, I've been doing installation work for the last four or five years, and that seems like something I could handle, although it's difficult to ship this stuff away and have someone else install it. But I think I can work that out.

So then how to construct this? And I felt that there was an easier way, a quicker way to do it than weave it and keep this more precise layered look. So I got — I don't know who these ideas came — it's hard to know where they came from — garden fencing that was made of plastic, extruded plastic in one-inch squares. So I thought, well, maybe I can use that as a base and just not — or attach these bags, which are about 24 inches, and then so, folded in half, they're about 12 inches.

So I got the netting. I had the plastic bags and started to try and put the stuff together. Then I thought, if I had some kind of stapling device or something that I could fasten this with. And just on some other task at JoAnn Fabrics, I saw this gun that was made for quilters to temporarily hold the layers together. And the little tacks, like the hang tags that we all find on our clothing that we buy, usually clear or sometimes black, were red, short and red — perfect.

MS. SHEA: Aha.

MR. KAUFMAN: So I just had to thread them through and shoot one of these — I forget what they're called, actually — tack? So I had my layered garment, and I realized that the — and so I was going to make these garments. And I thought, okay, Mesopotamia, Iraq, the war in Iraq, so many civilian deaths. These are going to be called "Kaunakes" — that's the name for this garment — and then "Ghosts of Mesopotamia," thinking, in my mind, this represents civilian deaths as a result of this stupid Iraq war. And so I decided I'm going to make a series of these garments in various adult and children's sizes and hang them in this, as ghosts floating in this space.

So that's how the whole thing developed. And I realized soon on that I wasn't going to be able to make, you know, a whole group of eight with what I'd saved. So I contacted the newspaper and I was able to buy additional bags.

MS. SHEA: I thought you were going to be having your whole neighborhood collect.

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, even if I had done that, it would still have not — if I had the whole town collecting them — well, I probably could have done that. But I purchased — I did end up purchasing a lot of them. And so I did these eight garments. And the exhibition opened in May of 2007. The photographs were due September 2006. So all of this needed lots of lead time. It was difficult to find a place where I could hang things. So we made stands, and then we Photoshopped the stands away, so I had a picture to send for the catalogue, which turned out not to be such great quality, but it was okay.

So then I figured out a plan where things should be hung and what height they should be from the floor. And when I got to the exhibition, there they were, and they looked very much like I had intended them to be. So that's the one time when something like this social-political content entered into the work. Other than that, it has not much, maybe at all, entered into the kind of work that I've done.

And now I have — I was invited to a show called "Innovation and Tradition" that's sponsored by the Southern Arts Federation. It's opening next March 1, whenever that is, coming soon, at the Atlanta History Center. And it's both contemporary and traditional craft from the Southeast, and it's traveling to a variety of locations. And when I was invited to send proposals for that, I was sort of into this project.

And so I suggested just two of these garments, because it's going to be a traveling show, and there's no way I could have an installation with other people just having single objects. So there are two of these garments in this show that will circulate. And I have a show scheduled for this summer in Kyoto in which I am going to do — I'm not going to use — I've gotten the pieces back from Poland, but it's a huge expense to send them, and complicated. You can't believe the paperwork when you send something out, and you want to get it back. You have to have this carnet and you have to have some professional do it for you, and then the paperwork just never ends.

So I'm making everything in Japan for this show, and I want to make even more than eight. I want to just fill the space with these garments and I want to have people have to move through them to get in. And I might have extra ones scattered around; I don't know. I'm just thinking how I can sort of carry this a little bit further than I have in the past. And how much meaning this will have in Japan — I'll have to explain it and it'll have to be translated into Japanese so that people will have some kind of understanding of what I'm after, other than just a visual experience, which you walk into through these many forms that are garment-like.

So that idea still intrigues me to carry on at least to this one. And then I haven't done it at Athens, so I'm hoping that — and I'll talk to the gallery director to have something in 2009 or later in one of our spaces in the School of Art installing these there too.

So I don't know if trying to get mileage out of it is the right expression, but I have a feeling that there's various venues in which I can do this, and each one can be something that's a little bit different than the previous one. So we've got these blood-red garments sort of hanging in space in which you can circulate among them.

MS. SHEA: One of the questions is, describe your working process, and how has it changed over time? I think we kind of talked about the techniques that you were using in Japan that were different. And then the other question is, do you work alone, with others? It sounds like it's pretty much just been alone.

MR. KAUFMAN: Pretty much has been alone, except those few wonderful years that I had in Japan that I did have the student assistant. And that worked out - with Koichi [Kimura] - worked out so incredibly satisfactory way. Aside from that, it's pretty much alone. Occasionally, I will farm out some simple sewing task to someone else, but I pay students' pay, by the hour, something, to do it. But for the most part, it's pretty much a solo activity.

MS. SHEA: And I guess maybe one of the last questions is, what impact has technology had on your work? Two things — you mentioned plastics coming up a couple of times.


MS. SHEA: But other — and photography, which I assume has gone digital.

MR. KAUFMAN: Well, whenever it was. You know, that was interesting. At the time I was using the photographs, I thought this should be done digitally. But at that time, the technology was such that you've got this — which I can't stand — sort of — what's the word I want? Digital — what's the individual little unit that creates a square? Ah, yes, pixel.

MS. SHEA: The little point?

MR. KAUFMAN: You know, there were no curves. And, I mean, it was all stepped, and I wasn't pleased with that at all. And I could get exactly the feeling I wanted with a little copy machine. And I never really — did I? I wonder if I explored this in America, in Athens, because certain copy machines could give me instantly the effect I wanted; that is, it would erase all middle values, and I'd have a black-and-white image at the local bookstore when I was living — especially when I was living in the little two-story townhouse in Kyoto.

Just five minutes away was a bookstore open till midnight, and I could take my color photographs over to that machine and end up with a black-and-white print. And there was one other copy shop in that neighborhood I could do the same. And then when I moved elsewhere, I worked — there was a graphic designer who often did my announcement cards, and he had a studio. And I was close to that studio at one point, but then I moved far, far away, and that's when I had two — the ceramic student and art historian both had cars. That was always important that whoever was assisting me had a car.

So we would drive a great distance to this graphic designer's very sophisticated machine, where you could set it to high contrast. And that worked so well that I never got into digital with the photography, and I always was dealing with the color prints you get from the local drugstore or wherever. In Japan you don't go to a drugstore but you go to a camera shop or copy shop or photo processing place.

So it was very sort of low-tech, except the machines were important. And the machine was important when I was using that other burnout technique. But it had to be a machine with the right kind of toner. And that was a little more high-tech, that sort of burnout screen technique, but working with plastics, but in a very hand[made] kind of way.

So in terms of technology, I mean, preparing this photograph for the catalogue with my former Korean student, you know, erasing the stands and replacing them with the wood grain that was already on the floor. But someone else was doing that; it wasn't me. And whenever it comes to anything that's more complicated than simple Photoshop, I need help, because I never learned it in any kind of formal way.

So technology has not had a whole lot of impact on — I mean, new technology has not had a whole lot of impact on what I'm doing or how I'm doing it.

MS. SHEA: I thought it might be interesting to discuss your surroundings, and wanted to ask - one aspect, of course, is that you're looking out, because of the time of year, onto a wooded hillside that's currently leafless, but I'm sure in a month or two will have green leaves.


MS. SHEA: - but then inside, one of the most visually striking objects, just because of the color, is the kimono that's on the wall.


MS. SHEA: Could you tell me about that?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. Well, that spot is reserved for kimono, and it's sort of seasonal. This one, actually, is a Christmas kimono, which I haven't taken the time to replace yet. I have about three or four that rotate, not just because the season or the time of year sort of dictates a different look, but I just don't like things exposed to the light, even though they don't get direct sunlight there too much.

So I have that here. But in Athens, I had the one large work of my friend, and I had one of my works in the living room, the dining room, which was just chaos. I do have a few more works, and then the small one in the bathroom in Athens. And this hallway is a kind of gallery space, and I have two kinds of work in there. One is glove work — images of gloves, not gloves themselves, but images of gloves, done in Japanese stitch Shibori technique, and then a series of fine woven, pile-woven prayer rugs, I call them, of silk, all natural-dyed silk, as I recall — yes, all natural-dyed silk from various plant materials, that used the McDonald arch as the mihrab [niche indicating Mecca], which is normally essential in prayer rugs.

MS. SHEA: Usually, I thought it's single point —

MR. KAUFMAN: It is. It is. It's usually —

MS. SHEA: — but you have doubles.

MR. KAUFMAN: - usually a single point, but I thought Americans' devotion to McDonald's justifies a double arch. And there are some traditions that have maybe not two distinct arches, but [a] more complicated arch kind of arrangement.

MS. SHEA: Sometimes, they'll be the one with the lamp—

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, exactly. Exactly. And some of them are very rectilinear. So that was many years ago; gosh, almost 30 years ago. Between 25 and 30 years ago I did these. I never showed them. I don't think they showed anywhere. But it just intrigued me, this idea of really fine knotted work.

But, yeah, I mean, the — and I've tried to keep it fairly simple. You know, the basket collection is — I've been intrigued by baskets forever, well, not forever, but for many years. And I have a basket collection in Athens. And then just a couple of those are old, but some of them are things — I went and did one shopping trip to Pier One and found a nice variety of ethnic baskets.

MS. SHEA: And then I see many monkeys.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes.

MS. SHEA: A host of sizes and shapes and material.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, yes. Well, that has become an obsession, which I'm trying to put under the hat, because I have too many already. My Chinese zodiac sign is the monkey.

MS. SHEA: I wondered if you were the year of the monkey.

MR. KAUFMAN: Year of the monkey, yeah. So that's where it all started. And in Japan, I probably started collecting the first ones there. And then, when people knew about this, they started gifting me monkeys, and it hasn't stopped. This one is from this Christmas, this candleholder.

MS. SHEA: Candleholder.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. And this fellow — when did I buy him? I think — I can't remember. And it was supposed to be a candleholder, but I never could figure out exactly how that could be a candle. But I have this basket of these wonderful round objects — some basket, some string, some felt, some ceramic, some covered with feathers. And I usually — the weekend, I cover everything; I mean, during the week. I cover the chairs, the couch, everything, to protect it from — well, I have denim panels that I hang up over the lower windows. I can't do anything about those. And I cover the rugs so they don't get too much light.

But I always put this away, you know, and then choose a different one for each weekend to give prominence on that monkey-holder. So, yeah, I mean, there's the monkey clock, and there's the monkey bookends, and there's the monkey incense burner. And there's monkeys from, of course, Japan, but Mexico and all kind of other locations. And this is just a tiny part. In Athens there's six times as many. And it has to stop.

MS. SHEA: So you're going to pronounce a monkey embargo. [Laughs.]

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, it has to. And I have to decide what their eventual disposition is going to be. I don't want my son stuck with dealing with 2,000 monkeys at some point in the distant future.

Yeah, and the rugs — I had dreams of this house long before this house was any kind of reality. And I started purchasing handwoven Middle Eastern rugs, maybe about 10 years ago. One of the ones in Athens as you come in — not the one at the door; that's just a cheapie from T.J. Maxx - but the one as you come in a little further is a rug that I bought on sale when I visited a friend maybe about 10 years ago in Annapolis [MD]. There was a rug shop there. I love Annapolis. Have you been there? It just has wonderful shops, and they're sort of loaded with history, and St. John's College, and the Naval Academy, and so on. Anyway, that was the first rug that I bought.

And then Macy's was closing one of their big stores anchoring one of the shopping centers in Atlanta, and the prices kept going down, down, down. They were 70 percent off, and so I bought quite a few rugs from Macy's at that time, thinking of this imagined mountain house. But I use a lot of them in Athens, and took up wall-to-wall carpeting and put handwoven rugs down.

And the one in — the big one in the living room, a colleague at Georgia [UGA] said to me one day, are you interested in Coptic textile? I said, yes, yes, of course I'm interested in Coptic. Well, interested, like in purchasing textiles? I said, well, I don't know. I mean, I may have some money, but what are you talking about? Well, there are some on Sotheby's website. He was, for some reason, searching Sotheby's website.

So I went and checked out this nice collection of Coptic fabrics, and bid on it, and got it for a very reasonable price, and it turns out to have some really — I don't know if priceless is the right word, but there's this one roundel that is pictured — that was woven many times, and it's pictured in some of the major books on Coptic textiles, and it's the story of Joseph. And amongst our many things, we got the story of Joseph, so I was really pleased about that.

But while I was on the website, I somehow saw rugs. And I thought, well, hmm. That was after I bought the one rug in Annapolis, but before I did this major wild purchasing in which these are all represented. These all came from the Macy's sale, and a couple of them at home, which you didn't see upstairs in my TV room, were from T.J. Maxx. I didn't know what I was going to find there, but anyway, it's a really nice tribal — I like the tribal, simple geometric style.

So I saw these rugs, and I saw this one, really interesting design. It was a new rug. It wasn't an old rug. And I think that's the reason that I got it at a good price, because people going to the website were looking for antique rugs and not new ones. But like eBay or other places, you can list your thing with Sotheby's, and this was the rug that's in the living room in Athens.

And it was intriguing, because it was asymmetrical. There was a kind of repeat, but it was rotated. And I looked through all my books, and I couldn't find anything exactly like it, and really got intrigued with it. And I had previously one of my own designed rugs that I had done many, many years ago, a black-and-white rug, and it was in the living room. I thought this would be perfect there.

So I asked a friend in New York to go and have a look at it. She's a weaver and a former student. She said, I don't know anything about rugs. I said, Marypaul [Yates], you know if the rug looks like good quality. You can see if it's well-woven. That's all I'm asking you, and, you know, some reaction to the color.

And so she did, and it was convenient. She just got to her office and went to the subway and went down to 53rd Street or someplace and looked at the rug, and she said, yes, it looks like good quality. It's thick pile, and the people are really nice, and the blue is really intense. I said, blue? I was looking at a red one.

So I called the dealer, and he said, yes, we have it in several colors. We have it with the blue background. But if you're interested in the red one, that's fine. So then I finally — the time ran out, and I bid, and I got the rug. And I had many conversations with them, and they were going to send it, and it was sent. And I was waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. It never arrived. And so I called. They said, well, maybe wait a little bit longer. I called, waited longer. He said, we traced it, and the rug is lost. But don't worry. It's insured with UPS.

I said, well, what am I to do now? He said, well, there are several possibilities. One, we could have another rug woven in India, and that'll take a couple of months. And I said, oh, that doesn't sound too good. Well, another alternative is we have a larger rug. What I purchased was, like, nine feet by 12 feet. We have 11 feet by 13 feet. And I said, well, I don't know if I could afford that. He said, well, no, we would send that to you for the same price. Oh, well, I think it probably will work, knowing that my living room is large.

So I got this fantastic, huge rug, handwoven in India, newly made, for a very, very reasonable price. So that's, you know, sort of establishing those surroundings with those handwoven rugs, which my parents had one that was under a small coffee table in our living room. And it was sort of precious, and we didn't walk on it. It wasn't in a traffic spot. And so that was kind of — you know, I go back to that earlier experience with that environment. But that window — when I walked in that door and saw — this was April, so it was all green. That sort of sold me. And then the stream, which has finally gotten some water back in it —

MS. SHEA: You were in a drought.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah. It flowed vigorously when I bought the place and during the first couple of years, and then dried up completely. And it's only within the last month — it just filled with leaves, because the leaves are so ever-present in all these hardwood forests. So the only thing I could see between the leaves was a little bit of water moving, and then went down last weekend, or two weekends ago, and cleaned it out so that I could see the water flowing.

So I'm really pleased, and I hope that that will stay, because that's — and, of course, when the weather's nice, and I can open the windows, I fall asleep to the bubbling of the stream. And also I sit out here in the summertime and enjoy the water, too.

MS. SHEA: Well, it seems like that might be a nice place to close things up. And I thought it was very nice, the circle back to — sounds like some of your first experiences with textiles, the rug underneath your parents' table.


MS. SHEA: And it's been a long and wonderful adventure.

MR. KAUFMAN: Yeah, that is good. It's nice to pick up on that. And, of course, sort of adding a little postscript, it's that I myself wove many rugs, many hand-knotted rugs, when I was a student at Cranbrook. When I went to Denmark on the Fulbright, I made a rug there. And then when I came back to Cranbrook to teach, some of the early things I was doing then were woven knotted-pile rugs, too. So that has been, you know, coming in and out of my life. I haven't actually — I mean, the students do it, but I haven't done, myself, anything like that. Okay.


How to Use This Collection

For information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman, 2008 January 22-February 23. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.