Mission: To promote excellence of design and craftsmanship, and to stimulate public appreciation of and interest in fine craft.
Northwest Designer Craftsmen (NWDC) was founded in 1954 to promote excellence of design and craftsmanship and to stimulate public appreciation and interest in fine craft. Artists in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, who work professionally in clay, wood, glass, metal, fiber, and/or mixed media, are members. Other members support the crafts in the Pacific Northwest as educators, managers of non-profit arts organizations, or buyers of art for public or private collections. Northwest Designer Craftsmen is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Federal EIN 94-3210925).
Over the years, the organization Northwest Designer Craftsmen has supported artisans and brought to our region an awareness of design and the crafts. In the 1950's, handmade objects were created in the tradition of New England and Southern crafts. In the Northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska, craftspeople were not bound by these traditional approaches. In fact, their influences were more Asian or Scandinavian. Craftsmen throughout the region felt liberated to create and design products breaking tradition, free from constraints of the past.
Seattle artisans joined together in 1954 to form a new organization called Northwest Designer Craftsmen. The founding members were Russell Day, Hella Skowronski, Coralynn Pence, Lizel Salzer, Henry Lin, Evert Sodergren, Irene McGowan, Robert Sperry, and Ruth Penington. Their mission was to establish an organization that would foster high standards of design and craftsmanship in the Northwest. They also wanted to promote public interest in crafts and craftsmen and to foster sound business methods among designers.
From the beginning, NWDC accepted only new members who had the highest professional craftsmanship and standards. Whether working in metal, wood, clay or textiles, NWDC members held a common respect for materials and process. Today, membership has grown to over 150 individuals working in a variety of craft mediums from weaving, quilting and basketry to an array of jewelry and metal arts, as well as mixed media artists who create using a variety of techniques and materials, blurring the lines between fine art and craft. Whether functional or not, there is quality work that exemplifies the continuity of craft tradition wedded to contemporary expression.
In the Spring of 2004, NWDC celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding with an exhibit of members' work. The show opened at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art in Bellingham, Washington and traveled to various museums and galleries in the Northwest. An exhibit catalogue has been published by the University of Washington Press and is available.