In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts 1950-1969, organized by co-curators Rachael Arauz and Diana Greenwold, explores the early history of this Maine school and situates it as an important influence on the world of mid-century art and design. The experimental nature of the Haystack experience, the effect of communal living within the natural landscape, and the powerful forces of the post-war art world all shaped Haystack’s teachers and students in profound ways that this exhibition explores. Textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork, paintings, and prints exemplify the breadth of innovative work that the Haystack experience made possible.
Founded in Liberty, Maine, in 1950, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts quickly became an institution at the vanguard of the Studio Craft movement and a significant force in art, design, and experiential learning. During Haystack’s early years, the school offered courses in fiber, graphics, wood, and clay with a rotating roster of instructors including Anni Albers, Antonio Frasconi, Jake May, and Toshiko Takaezu. In 1961, Haystack moved to a new campus in Deer Isle, Maine, where it began offering glass blowing and jewelry making, inviting artists such as Dale Chihuly and Robert Ebendorf to teach.
In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts 1950-1969, which opens at the PMA in summer 2019 before traveling to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in fall 2019, presents roughly 80 works of art that demonstrate the innovative and collaborative nature of the Haystack experience. Groupings of diverse media demonstrate how artists informed and critiqued one another and reveal unique instances of collaborative exchange fostered by the school’s environment. The exhibition also asserts Haystack’s central role in national debates over the boundaries between art, craft, and design by highlighting instances where artists brought their experiences at Haystack to bear on major artistic and commercial projects.
Additionally, archival material such as original correspondence, photographs, brochures, posters, and magazine articles will enrich the narrative of Haystack’s growth and transformation. Much of this material has never been published and will be included in a scholarly catalogue representing the most comprehensive resource ever published on the school. Through this wide array of art and archival material, In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts 1950-1969 tells the incredible story of this Maine institution and its pivotal imprint on art and craft practice in the United States.