New faces fresh pages

Tara Bradbury
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There are some careers that are chosen because of their money-making potential, and they are some chosen because of the availability of jobs.

There are others chosen by people who just can’t bring themselves to do anything else, especially when it comes to the arts.

“You don’t have to do computer sciences, you don’t have to go into the oil,” said fashion designer and textile artist Sara Hodder of SECH Designs.

“If this is in you, you need to let it out, and it is an option.”

Hodder, 32, is one of 10 young and emerging local craftspeople profiled in “Crafted,” a book published by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and launched earlier this week. The full-colour glossy book, featuring writing by Maegen Black, photography by Mark Bennett and design by Bennett and Jud Haynes, features a chapter on each young artist, showcasing their work, including their history, motivation and achievements.

Artists from all genres and media are included: functional ceramist Maaike Charron of St. John’s, jeweller/textile artist Jaclyn Humphries of St. John’s, ceramist Michael Flaherty of Corner Brook, jeweller/textile artist Rosalind Ford of Upper Amherst Cove, fashion designer/textile artist Cara Winsor Hehir of St. John’s, book artists Hillary Winter and Jillian Waite of Pick Me Up Press in St. John’s and C.B.S., stone carver Elias Semigak of Nain, glass and metal artist Heather Mills of St. John’s, jeweller Jessica Butler of St. John’s, and Hodder, also of St. John’s.

The arts council put out a call for artists interested in being profiled in the book about three years ago — setting an age limit of 34 — and received more than two dozen replies. An independent jury chose 10 of them, with an effort to include artists from around the province and representing a number of different genres.

“We looked for people that were doing dynamic and interesting things, and had a good educational background and had already invested something in their work, so they had a product that showed it had a future,” explained Anne Manuel, executive director of the craft council. “Our main thing was the quality of the work and their vision for the future.”

Each of the artists stories are different. Winsor Hehir is a craftivist who celebrates the female body and questions society’s perception of beauty, and Butler uses jewelry to reflect the province’s natural environment and cultural heritage (she has a line of Viking-style pieces). Flaherty creates art with ceramics that’s beautiful and not necessarily functional, while Semigak learned carving from family members at a young age and used it to help him through a difficult childhood.

Ford, a bird biologist, started making and selling cloth toys to offset her seasonal employment, and Charron developed a love of pottery by accident: taking a break from university after earning two degrees, she took a job with the craft council and discovered the clay studio in the basement.

Winter and Waite bonded while studying in MUN’s fine arts program over a love of handmade books, and Humphries combines her training in textiles, jewelry, sculpture and art history in her fiber and metal work.

Mills, a mixed-media artist, does large-scale works in metal and glass, saying she prefers to explore herself in 3D forms, while Hodder, says she makes clothes because she just can’t stop.

“In junior high school I started playing with fabric and in high school I started making things for friends. Then, I was living in Montreal and that’s when it really took off,” she said of her start as a craftsperson. “I was working in a bakery in Old Montreal and people would say, ‘Where did you get that?’ I’d be like, I made that. They started ordering things, I started doing small shows, and then I sold my work at a couple of boutiques there. That’s when I was like, Hmm, maybe I could make some money with this, but I didn’t really go full-time with it for a few years.”

Mom to a six-week-old baby boy, Hodder works from a home studio. For her it’s the most convenient way to go (for many reasons), and she often gets ideas in the middle of the night that she can work on right away. She’s known for her colourful, easy-to-wear pieces and her flash-mob style fashion shows in public spaces.

“I try to make clothes that fit you, to fit your body and your body type. The main goal of SECH is that you feel good.”

“Crafted,” funded by the Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators Program and the Craft Industry Development Program, will be used by the craft council as one of its tools to support and encourage young craftspeople in this province; it also offers scholarships and study awards through its awards program, a studio start-up fund for craftspeople starting a new full-time studio, and information for emerging artists. The back of “Crafted” includes information on how to find funding, deal with juries, develop a portfolio and developing a product line, among other resources.

“Craftspeople don’t just need financial support; they need creative nourishment, they need education, and they need to be connected to their communities,” Butler said at the book launch. “It represents our creativity as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and it adds to our culture.”

Manuel agrees.

“We recognize that young, energetic, creative, enthusiastic, visionary craftspeople are essential to the work of the craft council and to the vitality and strength of the craft industry in this province.”

“Crafted” is available at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador shop on Duckworth Street for $30. Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Upper Amherst Cove, Montreal MUN Duckworth Street

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