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Craft In America: Messages

Airs Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott.

"Craft In America" promotes and advances original handcrafted work and inspires people of all ages to pursue their own creativity. Audiences explore issues of identity, history, philosophy, ancestry, cultural exchange, repression and freedom. The third season of the Emmy nominated and Peabody Award winning series premieres with the episode titled "Messages."

The "Messages" episode explores the ways many craft artists go beyond skill to personal and political expression. The artists selected for "Messages" express many different interests and points of view and include Wisconsin glass artist Beth Lipman, New Mexico santero Charles Carrillo, Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott, and New Orleans metal artist Thomas Mann.

The Artists:

Artwork by Joyce J. Scott, "Man Eating Watermelon," 1986.
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Above: Artwork by Joyce J. Scott, "Man Eating Watermelon," 1986.

New Orleans metal and jewelry artist Thomas Mann.
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Above: New Orleans metal and jewelry artist Thomas Mann.

Artwork by Thomas Mann, "Markings No. 4: Wall Street," Storm Cycle Series, 2006.
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Above: Artwork by Thomas Mann, "Markings No. 4: Wall Street," Storm Cycle Series, 2006.

Joyce J. Scott, Baltimore bead artist, uses her knowledge of glass, quilting, printmaking and performance to comment on issues as diverse as race, feminism, and the scourge of drugs on the inner city. Joyce comments on her work: “I skirt the borders between comedy, pathos, delight and horror. I invite the viewer to laugh at our collective selves. Humans are hilariously precocious.”

By making art that attracts by its brilliant color and sparkle, she entices us to look, and by looking, we are forced to confront issues that we would rather not have to deal with. All the while, Joyce maintains a joy that imbues her work with energy and beauty.

Thomas Mann, New Orleans jewelry artist and sculptor, created the Storm Cycle series to share the personal stories of Hurricane Katrina, the individual experiences that changed lives but were not reported in the media.

In Tom’s words, “I believe that the topics I’ve chosen for the themes of the panels in Storm Cycle depict an alternative angle of view of the event, one that maintains a sense of humor about the human condition and our sense of resilience to catastrophe while pointing out the foibles and contradictions of the power structures we expect to protect us.

It is also my clear intent to keep the plight of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast alive in the mind of America via the medium of the arts.”

Artwork by Charles M. Carrillo, 1934 Chevy with San Isidro Labrador - St. Isidore.
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Above: Artwork by Charles M. Carrillo, 1934 Chevy with San Isidro Labrador - St. Isidore.

Beth Lipman working on glass with Jeremy Popelka.
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Above: Beth Lipman working on glass with Jeremy Popelka.

Charles M. Carrillo is a bridge between culture and historical eras. A Neuvo Mexicano, he is a direct descendant of the Spanish conquistadors who entered what is now New Mexico in the Sixteenth Century.

He is also related to the American Indians who have inhabited the Southwest for millennia. Often a difficult and brutal history, the story of New Mexico is embodied in the paintings and sculptures of Charles, archeologist turned Santero, or saint painter.

Using his background in archeology and science, he has re-invented the processes and materials used by Santeros centuries ago and married them to the designs and traditions of the American Indians who live in the pueblos. His message is one of reconciliation, harmony and humanism. His tools are the artist’s paintbrush and the sculptor’s chisel.

Beth Lipman is a glass artist who uses the traditional still life painting as the starting point for her elaborate, complex still lives which are often laden with hundreds of blown and lamp worked glass objects, the ghostly remains of an extravagant party. These sculptures capture the visual sumptuousness and excess of a feast.

Her work has several messages. It is about lavish abundance and decay and reminds us to consider not only the frivolity of the moment, but also the consequences of our actions.

Video

Series Preview: Craft In America

Above: "Craft In America" promotes and advances original handcrafted work and inspires people of all ages to pursue their own creativity. Audiences explore issues of identity, history, philosophy, ancestry, cultural exchange, repression and freedom.

Video

Preview: Craft In America: Messages

Above: Some craft artists go beyond skill to create works that bring attention to contemporary issues. Find out what inspires artists to create and how they transform their personal beliefs into works of art in "Craft In America: Messages."

Video

Video Excerpt: Craft In America: Messages: Charles M. Carrillo

Above: In this bonus clip from "Craft In America: Messages," artist Charles Carrillo shows us carvings and paintings of his favorite saint.

Video

Video Excerpt: Craft In America: Messages: Urban Glass

Above: The new installment of "Craft In America" premieres May 2011 on PBS and features glass artist Beth Lipman. This excerpt shows Beth working with gaffers and assistants Alexandra Lozier, Jeremy Popelka, Erica Rosenfeld, Isaac Tecosky and Leo Tecosky at Urban Glass in Brooklyn.

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