Object Lesson

Object Lesson is a monthly First Friday speaker series that opens wide the cases of the Center's Museum Collection through the perspectives of individuals from the worlds of art, design, performance, community activism, education, and more, creating fresh dialogues about the Collection and its objects.

Explore Object Lessons

Scott Braun on Katie Hudnall's Flight on Wheels and Tommy Simpson's House of ERrOrS

Scott Braun is a visual artist, educator, and socio-political activist whose interactive performances, sculptures, and installations engage participants in an exploration of self in the context of society. He has been artist-in-residence at Anderson Ranch in Colorado and Haystack in Maine, and his work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at the Queens Museum, Sideshow Gallery, The Rosenthal Library, Benton/Nyce Gallery, Pei-Ling Chen Sculpture Garden at Savannah College of Art and Design, Rye Arts Center gallery, and the American University Museum.

His current endeavor, “The Decency Project,” draws upon his extensive background in woodworking and social practice, using craft and labor as a conduit for creating community. The project has traveled from Richmond, VA to Washington, DC, and New York, NY, and is featured in the documentary series “The Line (That Divides Us).” The Decency Project is scheduled to be at the Center for Art in Wood and Love Park in Philadelphia, PA, and the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO, in Fall 2021.

Braun has worked professionally as musician, spoken word performer, furniture designer/maker, visual artist, and educator. He has served as Lecturer in Sculpture at Yale School of Art, Faculty at New York School of Interior Design, and is currently Assistant Professor in the Craft/Material Studies Department at VCUArts in Richmond, VA. He holds a BA in Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and an MFA in Studio Art and Social Practice from Queens College, CUNY in NY.

Scott Braun

Ahmed Abdelazim on the John Grass Wood Turning Company’s balusters

Ahmed Abdelazim holds a BA in Architecture, MA in Islamic Art, MA in Anthropology (both from the American University in Cairo), and a current Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UW-Madison. Abdelazim’s work examines the material and visual culture of Egypt during the second half of the 20th century and is interested in the social life of objects and how discourses develop around them.

Ahmed Abdekazim

Kenneth Hilario on Neil Donovan's Walking Stool

Kenneth Hilario: A former staff reporter at the Philadelphia Business Journal, Kenneth gained first-hand expertise covering the hospitality, tourism and marketing communications industries. From restaurants and cultural attractions to leisure and international travel, Kenneth has demonstrated a deep understanding of hospitality industries and their social and economic impact through his reporting. The Philadelphia resident graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

Kenneth Hilario

Ted Maust on C.R. (Skip) Johnson's The Itinerant Turner's Toolbox

Ted Maust is the Director of the Elfreth's Alley Museum, which interprets the lives of people who have lived on one of Philadelphia's most historic streets over 300 years. He is the son of a ceramic artist and spent much of his childhood at craft fairs and in art museums. Gravitating toward history, Ted received his M.A. from the Center for Public History at Temple University, where he studied historic house museums. Recently, Ted has been working on the Elfreth's Alley Museum's podcast, The Alley Cast; the second season (coming Summer 2021) focuses on the working lives of past residents. Episodes will feature boarding house operators, working children, builders, and–relevant to this Object Lesson–woodworkers such as cabinetmakers and turners.

Ted Maust

Photo credit: Geneva Heffernan

Thora Jacobson on Charles and Tami Kegley's Fire-Eating Juggler

Thora Jacobson is a visual arts management consultant focusing on systems development, program design, and strategic planning. She is also an independent curator, having organized in 2019 an exhibition at InLiquid of materials-based artists who have taught in Philadelphia area art schools and influenced generations of students. In September 2020, she juried CRAFT! – Da Vinci's first contemporary all-craft exhibition in its 89-year history.

Thora Jacobson

Nashay "Nyela" Antoinette Jones on C.R. "Skip" Johnson's Spud, the Potato Peeler's Stool

Nashay "Nyela" Antoinette Jones is an interdisciplinary artist, working in paint, pixels, and mixed media to tell embodied stories of female-bodied Black people. "This body–my body," and others like it–are their frame of reference, the aperture through which they understand the world. They often use it as metaphor, wanting not only to tell its stories of pain and heartache, but also its stories of love, hope, and joy. Nashay holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College and is currently working towards an MA in Museum Studies from the University of the Arts.

Nashay Jones

Sam Davis

Sam Davis on Hartmut Rademann's Door / 8 July / Pine Street

Sam Davis is currently completing his undergraduate Art History studies at the Tyler School of Art + Architecture at Temple University. A native Philadelphian, Sam grew up going to First Friday events with family and friends, and now works at the Center for Art in Wood as a visitor services associate and social media specialist. You can usually find him behind the front desk of the Center, giving a gallery tour, or posting orangutan videos on the Center's social media.

This past school year, Sam completed his thesis addressing the history and importance of Eco-critical art theory, with an accompanying ecological analysis of William Eggleston's photography. In the future, he hopes to help bring art and art history out of academic circles in order to make the arts more accessible for everyone.

Leila Cartier on Norm Sartorius' Spoon

Leila Cartier is the Executive Director of CraftNOW Philadelphia, which unites organizations to promote the historic and contemporary role of the city in the fields of craft and making. Her studio practice is located in 1241 Carpenter Studios + Project Space in South Philadelphia and she is represented by SchmidtDean Gallery.

From 2010 – 2015, Cartier was the Director of Exhibitions at the William King Museum of Art in her hometown of Abingdon, Virginia, an underserved area of the Appalachian coalfields with little to no other access to the arts. Her curatorial projects consisted of bringing art from around the world to the region, documenting and exhibiting material culture from Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, and presenting regional contemporary art in all media. She holds an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and concurrently studied Arabic Language at Depaul University with a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. Her BFA in Art and Art History from Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia included a year spent with Temple University Rome, Italy.

Leila Cartier

Ksenia Nouril on David Bender and Jérôme Blanc's Printer: From Top to Bottom

Ksenia Nouril is the Jensen Bryan Curator at The Print Center, a 105-year-old non-profit institution in Philadelphia dedicated to expanding the understanding of photography and printmaking as vital contemporary arts. A specialist in global contemporary art, Ksenia previously held a Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) Fellowship in the International Program at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has organized exhibitions at the Bruce Museum, Lower East Side Printshop, MoMA, and Zimmerli Art Museum. Ksenia lectures widely and frequently writes for international exhibition catalogues, magazines, and academic journals, including ARTMargins Online, The Calvert Journal, Institute of the Present, OSMOS, and Woman's Art Journal. She has published two books: Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe: A Critical Anthology (co-editor and contributor, MoMA, 2018) and Ilya Kabakov and Viktor Pivovarov: Stories About Ourselves (editor and contributor, Rutgers University Press, 2019). Ksenia holds a BA in Art History and Slavic Studies from New York University and an MA and PhD in Art History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Ksenia Nouril

James Maurelle on Lynne Yamaguchi's Learning to Cope: Pear Incognito under a Mantle of Cherry

James Maurelle is an interdisciplinary artist, sculpture, video, photography, and sound art are his analog and digital primes, His work investigates the correlation formed between labor and creativity, at the center of this byway is the spirit of his work. Constructing objects and moving images are not unlike creating music compositions, the accompaniment: i,e, tools, and materials, are a call and response to dexterity. The rubric to complete any composition is to know ones' instrument(s)/tools; the creative process is based on this reciprocal understanding. Jazz is the primer which propels the work, the tone/feel of every composition is in direct association with the culture. Every object I compose is a physical versioning of a historic recording of happening, every tool used is an augmented scale referencing an industrial progression. The materials (wood, metal, plastic, film) are the staff paper, and every committed strike upon these materials forms a note or chord. The fluidity connecting mind, hand, and tools are based on the augmented triad which is the cornerstone of my work ethic. The main objective is to continue creating full-bodied compositions, as long as the staff paper flows, I will inscribe upon it.

His work has shown in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Austin, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. He is a recipient of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Fellowship (2015).

James Maurelle

Elizabeth Essner on Kay Sekimachi's Hornet's Nest Bowl

Elizabeth Essner is an independent curator, writer, and researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. A 2017 Curatorial Fellow with the Center for Craft, she has curated exhibitions for institutions including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Arizona State University Art Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Woodlands, a historic site in Philadelphia. Elizabeth serves as a researcher for two forthcoming publications and has written for magazines including Modern and Metalsmith. She received her MA from the Bard Graduate Center and has previously been an auction house specialist and an appraiser.

Elizabeth Essner

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