A Kansas Contribution

An Exhibition Celebrating the Year of American Craft

The artists included in this exhibition have achieved considerable recognition for their works in wood, clay, metal or fiber. In addition, all of them have strong ties to the state of Kansas -through birth, education or as longtime residents. It seemed especially fitting, therefore, during the Year of American Craft, to organize an exhibition honoring these artists and their achievements.

In the years following WWII, artists working in the Studio Craft movement challenged the prevailing Bauhaus aesthetic “form follows function” and began exploring issues related to contemporary art with a deeper conceptual concern for meaning. They placed greater emphasis on expression in their materials and design instead of practicality. The furniture, ceramic vessels, jewelry, sculptures and tapestries in this exhibition demonstrate that craft has overcome the question “is the creator an artist or craftsman?” and it is worthy of being considered a valid art form.

Wendell Castle was born in 1932 in Emporia, Kansas, and graduated with a BFA in 1958 and an MFA in 1961 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Now based in Boulder, Colorado, Robert Ebendorf was born in 1938 in Topeka, Kansas, and received a BFA in 1958 and an MFA in 1963 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Alma Eikerman was born in 1908 in Pratt, Kansas. She earned a BS from Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, in 1934, and an MS from Columbia University, New York, in 1942. She is now based in Bloomington, Indiana.

Kenneth Ferguson was born in 1928 in Elwood, Indiana, and studied at the American Academy of Art, Chicago. He earned a BFA in 1952 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and an MFA in 1958 from Alfred University, New York. Ferguson became head of the Kansas City Art Institute ceramics department in 1964.

L. Brent Kington was born in 1934 in Makanda, Illinois, and graduated with a BFA from the University of Kansas in 1957. He completed his MFA from Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1961.

Richard Mawdsley was born in 1945 in Winfield, Kansas, and graduated with a BS in Education in 1967, Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia. He received an MFA in 1969 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Based in in Pittsburg, Kansas, Marjorie Schick was born in 1941 in Taylorville, Illinois, and graduated with a BS in 1963 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She earned an MFA in 1966 from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Cynthia Schira was born in 1934 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She earned a BFA in 1956 from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1956; she studied at the L'Ecole d'Art Decoratif, Aubusson, France, from 1956-57; and she graduated with an MFA in 1967 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

We are deeply grateful to Wendell Castle, Robert Ebendorf, Alma Eikerman, Ken Ferguson, L. Brent Kington, Richard Mawdsley, Marjorie Schick and Cynthia Schira for their generous assistance with this exhibit. We would also like to thank Lony Dudley of the Peter Joseph Gallery, New York, and Nan Esseck Brewer, associate curator of 19th- and 20th-century works on paper, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, for their help with the show.