Craft and the Creative Process


This online exhibition, drawn entirely from collections in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, celebrates Nanette L. Laitman's gift to the Archives for the creation of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft in America, an unprecedented initiative to document the life and work of America's leading craft artists.

During this five-year project, the Archives will record and transcribe 100 oral history interviews with key figures in American craft. The grant will also support a major campaign to collect the papers of prominent artists working in clay, glass, fiber, metal and wood. This project will be realized in association with the American Craft Museum.

The creative process is intrinsically dynamic, collaborative, and evolutionary. It is sparked by the potential of materials, new concepts and information, or even previously rejected ideas. Through the accumulation of papers and other primary records the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art illuminates creative activity from the source of ideas to the final object.

The selection of letters, writings, sketches, photographs, and oral history interviews of craft artists collected here capture the interplay of observations, possibilities, revisions, and solutions that inspired new ways of thinking about clay, metal, fiber, wood, and glass, and ultimately the meaning of craft.