Jamie Herman of Layton, N.J. has won the 2021 John D. Mineck Fellowship, an annual award from Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts that includes an unrestricted $25,000 prize to an emerging furniture artist.
Herman was considered an exemplary candidate for the award, according to the society’s executive director, Brigitte Martin.
“Jamie’s building process, his deep commitment to craft, and his desire to assist young makers exemplifies the heart and soul of the Mineck Fellowship,” Martin says. “The jury who chose him as the winner liked Jamie’s plan that includes other talented woodworkers and provides a tangible way to support them.”
Herman trained in fine woodworking and furniture design at the Vermont Woodworking School and has participated in fellowships at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship and the Peters Valley School of Craft. He has been transparent about how making furniture has been a means of therapy in battling personal issues.
“I struggled with mental health during my time in Vermont. But having a project in front of me that was all-consuming and occupied my hands gave me a chance to process things in a more useful way,” Herman said in a statement from the society announcing the award.
“When I was in school, I didn’t think critically about what I was making; ideas just popped into my head. In retrospect, I realize I was making things that were functional, but just barely. They were reflections of my mental state at the time. I’m so proud of the things I made then because they symbolize overcoming dark thoughts and getting through.”
Herman plans to use his fellowship prize to set up an independent studio, continue his education in new mediums, and develop programs that connect young furniture makers with mentors in the field. He is currently an Artist Fellow and Wood Studio Coordinator at Peters Valley.
The fellowship program is supported by the John D. Mineck Foundation and was created in 2007 to honor Mineck, who once served as the society’s president on the board of trustees.
This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.