Thursday, September 2, 2010

Haystack Mountain School

I’m back from two blissful weeks in Maine where I attended a fiber workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

Founded in 1950 at Haystack Mountain, the school moved to its current facility in 1961 on Deer Isle. The campus is a collection of cabins and studios, built into a hillside at the water’s edge. Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the compound, and in 1994, having stood the test of time, it received the Twenty Five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects.

From Barnes’s 2004 New York Times obit:
His Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Crafts…was not a building but a village of shingled cottages linked by a grid of wooden decks leading to a spectacular ocean view. Its diagonal forms were a much-noted departure from the cubical massing of the International Style that prevailed at the time. In 1994, the American Institute of Architects honored the project's influence with its 25-Year Award for older buildings, calling it "an early and profound example of the fruitful and liberating fusion of the vernacular building traditions with the rationality and discipline of Modern architecture."

The breathtaking view shifts gloriously with the fluctuating Maine weather. We drifted off to the sound of crashing waves at night, and woke to outgoing lobster boats in the morning.

Barnes’s Haystack architectural model and elevation of the campus are in the collection of MoMA.

The sub-tundra terrain of moss, lichen, pine, and glacial erratics provided a fascinating and enchanting landscape …

The atmosphere is very conducive to working. Studios are open 24/7 and having prepared (and delicious) meals is very freeing.

Experimentation and exploration is encouraged and the teachers of the six workshops in session during my stay were all so inspirational. At night we got to see and hear about their work.

For example:

Kristen Morgin works in unfired clay.
Topolino, 2003
Monopoly, 2008

Jerry Bleem works with a wide range of found materials. The intriguing surface texture on these sculptures was created with staples.
June 10, 1983, 2000
Found printing plate, staples

Float, 2004
Fish scales, staples

Matthias Pliessnig works in steam-bent white oak.

Look through the Haystack workshop offerings to see other instructors.

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