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William J. and Jane Brown papers, circa 1940-2014

Biographical Note

William "Bill" J. Brown (1923-1992) was a designer and educator who was married to Jane Brown (1932- ), an arts administrator. They lived in Bakersville, North Carolina.
Bill Brown was born in Flint, Michigan in 1923. He studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art receiving a bachelor of fine art in 1949, a master of fine art in 1950, and was chosen to work at Corning Glass Works for a summer. After his studies, he taught at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and at the University of Delaware. In 1962 Lucy Morgan, who founded the Penland School of Crafts in 1929 in North Carolina, retired and offered the position of director to Bill. At the time, the school focused on traditional mountain crafts. As director, Bill changed the emphasis of the school to the advancement of professional craftsmen and the expansion of media to include iron and glass. He began a resident artist program that allowed artists to develop their skills at a low cost. Together, Bill and Jane created a supportive community of craftsmen that attracted renowned artists to teach and work at Penland. Bill resigned as director in 1983 but remained a respected member of the arts community. He earned several awards including the North Carolina Award in the Fine Arts in 1991.
Jane Brown graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor of arts in education and a master's degree in special education. Jane studied the Alexander Technique, a technique that can be used to improve the performance of dancers and musicians.
Bill Brown died in 1992. After his death, Jane participated in the dedication of the Bill Brown Glass Studio at Penland during a Glass Arts Society conference in 1995. She continues to live in Bakersville, North Carolina.