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Artist collaborates with The Philip Simmons Foundation in new gift collection

North Charleston glass and metal artist Steve Hazard has partnered with the Philip Simmons Foundation to produce a new gift collection of ornaments, paperweights, coasters, bowls and vases in etched crystal and glass. These items feature designs from the extensive portfolio of drawings and sketches by Philip Simmons, the legendary master blacksmith of Charleston. Motifs chosen for the collection were designed by Simmons and can be found on Charleston gates and on works in museums in Columbia, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. When Hazard relocated from San Diego to Charleston in 2003, Simmons was the first local artisan he wanted to meet. Hazard shared photos of his past projects in metal, glass and clay. Simmons reciprocated, sharing detailed plans and photos of a few of the many commissions he had completed during his 80-year career. Hazard hoped to collaborate with Simmons on a project incorporating metal and glass, but due to Simmons' retirement, that collaboration did not happen before Simmons passed away in 2009. Last summer, Rossie Colter of the Philip Simmons Foundation approached Hazard about fabricating a collection of gifts. Hazard welcomed the opportunity to use his skills to honor Simmons' legacy by translating a set of iconic motifs from his ironworks to glass. The Philip Simmons Crystal & Glass Collection expands the audience for Simmons' work and increases awareness of the contributions he made through his artistry and humanity. Pieces from the collection are available for purchase on the Foundation’s website and in the gift shop at the Philip Simmons Museum House in Charleston. Find out more online. Images: Left: Flame & Heart Round Crystal Bowl; right: Egret Rectangle Vase Via: The Philip Simmons Foundation  

Charleston blacksmith designs new National Heritage Fellows medal for NEA

From the National Endowment for the Arts Article and medal photo by Cheryl Schiele, NEA Folk and Traditional Arts Specialist

[caption id="attachment_28251" align="alignright" width="250"]National Heritage Fellows medal The new NEA National Heritage Fellows medal. Click for a larger view.[/caption] As we approached the 34th anniversary of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, our staff began to review and ponder the ways that we could deepen our recognition of these extraordinary artists. A question that kept coming up was—what kind of physical award might we produce that would truly celebrate our Fellows with artwork and design worthy of their accomplishments? We took note that our Fellows are often recognized not only for the exemplary artistic skills and passion that they bring to their work but also for their commitment to passing along their skills and knowledge to future generations. We began researching and brainstorming through ideas such as producing a statuette, a custom-made plaque, or a wearable medal. With the idea of a medal in mind, two artforms stood out from the pages of our previous 33 program books—ornamental ironwork found in Charleston, South Carolina, and Osage ribbonwork, two craft traditions celebrated in 1982, the inaugural year of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships. A little backstory on the award: Since 1982 our NEA National Heritage Fellows have received great distinction at an awards ceremony in their honor, recognition from peers and the press, and a monetary award for their dedication to folk and traditional art, work, and performance. To commemorate the fellowship, they have also received a personalized certificate or plaque to display in their homes, workshops, and studios. What will make this year different from the others is that instead of a certificate or plaque, our 2016 Fellows will receive a newly designed and commissioned award medal. One of our inspirations for the new award was the work of the late Georgeann Robinson. A citizen of the Osage Nation, Robinson received a National Heritage Fellowship for her intricate ribbonwork stitched by needlepoint onto clothing worn by Osage people for the In-Lon-schka dances and other important social gatherings. We first reached out to Robinson’s great-granddaughter, Jami Powell who has been working diligently to document Robinson’s work. After we discussed the idea of ribbonwork as a part of an award design, Jami spoke to her mother Lisa Powell (Georgeann Robinson’s granddaughter) and they both eagerly agreed to contribute to this unique award. Lisa Powell continues the family tradition of ribbonwork from her home in Eudora, Kansas. Together, they drew inspiration from one of Robinson’s designs creating a red, blue, and yellow traditional Osage design, which would allow the Fellows to wear the medal around their necks. To design the medal itself, we reached out to the Philip Simmons Foundation, named in honor of the late master blacksmith and ironwork designer who received a National Heritage Fellowship for his ornamental ironwork. A notable feature of Charleston, South Carolina’s unique visual and cultural aesthetic, Simmons’ remarkable wrought-iron gates, fences, balconies, and freestanding sculptures still grace many of the homes, gardens, and businesses in the city and its surrounding areas. Carlton Simmons, who apprenticed with his uncle Philip from age 13, continues to work in the same workshop on the grounds of the former residence and now Museum Home of Philip Simmons (which also houses the Philip Simmons Foundation and Gift Shop). After discussing and reviewing several of our ideas, Carlton Simmons took matters into his own hands, literally, and presented us with an award medal in a signature heart motif. Carlton Simmons’ filigree heart symbolizes the passion that drives each National Heritage Fellow, while Lisa Powell’s delicate ribbonwork represents the love of family heritage and culture radiating upwards to envelop each Fellow. Instrumental to these efforts were collaborators Rossie Colter of the Philip Simmons Foundation and Gomez & Associates Co. Inc. Together, these traditions and community members represent legacies of perpetuation, distinction, and extraordinary commitment to cultural heritage. Every fall, when we finally get to meet the Fellows in Washington, DC, they bring with them the past and make it present through their stories and artwork. They bring with them family legacy and family lineage, generously sharing vital cultural knowledge with future generations. They bring with them the important lesson that we are linked together through songs, fabric, stories and mostly importantly people. In a tactile way, this new medal links the legacies of Georgeann Robinson and Philip Simmons to our present-day NEA National Heritage Fellows, and reminds us all of our links to community, as well as to the past, present, and future. Join us in person or online at arts.gov as we honor the 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellowships at a celebration concert on Friday, September 30 at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC.

McKissick Museum celebrates Diverse Voices in new folklife gallery

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum has opened a new folklife gallery and exhibition, Diverse Voices: Discovering Community Through Traditional Arts. Dedicated to the late George D. Terry, McKissick's director from 1976-1988, Diverse Voices explores deeply rooted traditions that help create the cultural landscape of South Carolina and the surrounding region. Each year the exhibit will focus on a specific theme or tradition. Year One offers a comprehensive presentation of objects from the museum collection that represent the work of celebrated NEA National Heritage Fellows and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients. Year One showcases the work of artists such as Philip Simmons, Janie Hunter, Burlon Craig, Snuffy Jenkins and Gale McKinley. Simmons, Hunter and Craig are National Heritage Fellows. Simmons, Jenkins and McKinley are Folk Heritage Award recipients. The public is invited to celebrate the gallery's opening at a reception Monday, Aug. 19 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. Mac Arnold (Folk Heritage Award recipient) and Plate Full o' Blues will perform from 6 - 7:30 p.m. The current exhibition runs through July 12, 2014. “It’s very exciting and rewarding to finally have a gallery space within McKissick that is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the folklife and traditional arts of the region," said Saddler Taylor, curator of Folklife and Fieldwork. "McKissick has been passionate about documenting traditional arts for more than 30 years; it’s fitting that we set aside exhibition space to tell that story on a regular basis.” Additional programs for Diverse Voices include Mill Billy Blues, featuring Freddie Vanderford on Thursday, October 3, and Folk Time, featuring storyteller John Thomas Fowler and Native American scholar Will Moreau Goins on Saturday, November 2. Vanderford, Fowler and Goins are Folk Heritage Award recipients. Diverse Voices is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. McKissick Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibits are free and open to the public. Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday - Friday and 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. The museum is closed Sundays and holidays. For more information, visit McKissick's website or call Ja-Nae Epps at 803-777-2876. Via: McKissick Museum