Two college students pursuing woodworking for a living have each received a $15,000 award to further their professional goals beyond graduation. The students, Justin Seow of the Rhode Island School of Design and Kiley Friese of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, are among the 2018 Windgate Fellowship recipients from the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design.
Now in its 13th year, the award identifies 10 graduating college seniors with exemplary skill in craft, nominated from a national network of 104 university art programs.
“The Windgate Fellowship provides critical financial support as a bridge between college and graduate school or life as a working artist,” says Stephanie Moore, executive director of the CCCD. “The Fellowship instills confidence and fosters bravery to take risks and the chance to seek and engage in career-enhancing opportunities.”
Seow learned about the award from a colleague and applied by submitting images and videos of his work and a written proposal about how he would spend the funds. Ultimately, he wants to create a body of work including furniture and abstract pieces, mainly with wood, that intertwines the techniques and traditions he will focus on this summer.
He will attend a week-long workshop with Kagen Sound at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Co. to learn Japanese puzzle making techniques using block plains and chisels. Immediately after, he will visit Japan to study puzzle boxes more in depth through the Karakuri Creation Group in Hackone and meet with a design professor at the University of Tokyo.
“When I first found out I was in the middle of class and they called. That whole day I was floating on a cloud. It just came out of nowhere,” says Seow of winning the award. “I’m just really humbled by the panelists’ decision to choose me and support my work.”
Friese will take a wood turning class at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and attend the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair in Sweden.
“I am also in the process of starting my own custom furniture business. This fellowship will help me purchase essential tools and supplies to get started,” says Friese. “I feel very honored and grateful to be chosen as one of the ten 2018 Windgate fellows. I had known about the award for a couple of years, but I never guessed I would be receiving it when it was my time to graduate. It’s hard to even describe how incredible it feels to know my hard work has led to this opportunity and that there are people who really support what I am doing.”
The selection panel included Michele Cohen, chair of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; Fabio J. Fernández, former executive director of the Society of Arts + Crafts in Boston; Mia Hall, executive director of Penland School of Crafts in Penland, N.C., and John Souter, visual artist and a 2012 Windgate Fellowship recipient of Philadelphia.
For more, visit www.craftcreativitydesign.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue.