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Hunterdon Art Museum highlights impact, history of acclaimed craft school

Hunterdon Art Museum will exhibit “From the Ground Up: Peters Valley School of Craft” from Oct. 4 to Jan. 10.
“From the Ground Up,” will be the first-ever exhibition examining Peters Valley’s 50-year history and key moments that have defined the institution – from its earliest formation as an experimental craft colony, to the building of its renowned Japanese wood-fired or Anagama kiln in 1980, to the prominence of women blacksmiths at Peters Valley in the early 2000s.
The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Essner. “From the Ground Up” will combine historical ephemera with significant works in fiber, jewelry, ceramics, wood, photography and metal by artists involved at Peters Valley, as well as on-site artist residencies to allow further engagement with artists working in craft-based materials.
“We’ve been working with the Hunterdon Art Museum and Essner for the past two years to ensure this milestone exhibition includes pieces that communicate the rich history and development of contemporary craft in America,” said Peters Valley Executive Director Kristin Muller. “The interactive artist residencies will also exemplify to visitors the experiential aspects of Peters Valley’s immersive studio workshops.”
Essner said she was “thrilled to be able to shed light on so many stories of artistic transformation that have happened at Peters Valley.”
“The school has engaged hundreds of artists and thousands of students over its 50-year history, yet its story has never been told,” she said. “‘From the Ground Up’ captures the vital spirit and historic contributions of this important craft institution.”
Selected artists whose work will be in the exhibition are Vivian Beer, Bruce Dehnert, Fawn Navasie, Luci Jockel, Kirk Mangus, Emil Milan, Shiro Otani, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Stephen Shore, Toshiko Takaezu, Louise Todd Cope, MJ Tyson and Andrew Willner.
Artist residencies during the exhibition will include weaver Cynthia Alberto and her Brooklyn-based weaving studio Weaving Hand, jeweler Lauren Eckert and woodworker Janine Wang.
Set in the wooded landscape of the Delaware Water Gap National Park in Layton, N.J., Peters Valley was first proposed in 1970 as a planned colony of artists and craftspeople. The resident blacksmiths, ceramists, fiber artists, metalsmiths, woodworkers and photographers who populated the site’s 18th- and 19th-century buildings created a vibrant community engaged in creating. Over time, as Peters Valley’s educational mission moved from the margins to the center, it grew into the nonprofit craft school it is today, which brings together artists of local, national and international renown with students for immersive materials-based workshops.
Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Hunterdon Art Museum is located at 7 Lower Center St., Clinton, N.J.