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Alan Crawford

(b Isleworth, Middx, May 17, 1863; d Godden Green, Kent, May 23, 1942).

English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place.

In 1888, while he was training to be an architect in the office of G. F. Bodley and Thomas Garner (1839–1906), Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in the East End of London. The School lasted only until 1895, but the Guild, a craft workshop that combined the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement with a romantic, apolitical socialism, was to be the focus of Ashbee’s work for the next 20 years. There were five guildsmen at first, making furniture and base metalwork. In ...

Article

Ellen G. Landau

(b Allegheny, PA, May 11, 1894; d New York, NY, April 1, 1991).

American dancer and choreographer. Graham is widely considered a major pioneer and exponent of modernism. Her collaboration with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed costumes and sets for the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1935 to 1966, and the extraordinary photographs of her in performance by Imogen Cunningham, Soichi Sunami (1885–1971), Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and especially Barbara Morgan, link Graham’s revolutionary accomplishments in dance to experimentation in the visual arts. During the late 1930s and 1940s, her belief in the ability of dance to tap the power of myth and the unconscious anticipated and was analogous to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism.

Brought up in California the daughter of a physician, in 1916 at age 22, Graham began studying dance under Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972). Ten years later she formed the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. While her own performances were initially based on the Denishawn style, by ...

Article

Julie Aronson

[ née Potter, Bessie Onahotema ]

(b St. Louis, MO, Aug 17, 1872; d New York, March 8, 1955).

American sculptor. Vonnoh was known for small, distinctive compositions of women and children in dress of the period. Created in an impressionistic style, her sculptures capture the essence of her subjects. Born Bessie Onahotema Potter, she grew up in Chicago. In 1886, she entered the studio of the sculptor Lorado Taft and enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he served as instructor of modeling. Newly arrived from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Taft taught Vonnoh the latest French techniques and stylistic tendencies, including a fluid approach to form and the retention of the evidence of her touch. After she graduated in 1891, her education advanced with the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), where she exhibited her work and gained practical experience as one of the “White Rabbits;” a group of women who assisted Taft with the enlargement of sculptors’ models.

In 1894, a circle of artists and writers calling themselves “The Little Room” convened in Vonnoh’s Chicago studio. Discussions ensued on the merits of American subject matter and Impressionism, a movement in painting that used active brushwork to engage with contemporary life. Seeking a three-dimensional equivalent to Impressionism, Vonnoh modeled statuettes of women in the dress of the day with lively surfaces, cast them in plaster and delicately tinted them with color. Some she assigned titles such as ...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Arizona, 1950).

American jeweler, sculptor, painter, and silversmith, of Mescalero Apache–Navajo descent. White Eagle began his career as a silversmith under the tutelage of legendary Navajo artisan Fred Peshlakai , at age five, learning by observation and developing an artistic understanding of Peshlakai’s aesthetic approach. At nine, he began making and selling his own jewelry at Union Square in Los Angeles. Later moving to Palm Springs, CA he continued to generate and sell his jewelry on the street under the date palms trees.

Always handmade, his jewelry pieces used the finest available quality of semi-precious stones. Singular details and features demonstrated his exclusive and unique artistic vision and styling. In 1973, the Yacqui artist, Art Tafoya, began a silversmith apprenticeship with White Eagle, studying the hand-stamped old style embossing skills of jewelry; he continued the historic creation of extraordinary designs.

Bold and substantial, White Eagle’s jewelry balanced a focal fluid turquoise stone against deeply carved flora and linear design lines. His pieces represented transcultural combinations of traditional Navajo silver interwoven with mainstream expectations of Native American style. He daringly counterbalanced mixed semi-precious stonework with irregular fusions of silver positive space. Smooth, amazingly detailed stamp work combined with bent offset features providing an overall asymmetrical daring quality....

Article

Camara Dia Holloway

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 5, 1948).

American photographer, curator and scholar. Willis was born in North Philadelphia to a hairdresser mother and a policeman father who was an amateur photographer. Within a familial and communal context, Willis learned that photographs could function as powerful statements of African American identity. These ideas were reinforced by reading her family’s copy of the publication The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955) that featured the photographs of Roy DeCarava, a major African American photographer. She also attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Harlem on My Mind in 1969. Willis earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1975 and an MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1979. Inspired by the quilting and storytelling traditions in her family, Willis developed a practice that combined her photographs, family photographs and other elements into autobiographical quilts. Her later works focused more on the female body.

From 1980 to 1992...