In 1954, a small group of artisans came together to form the organization Northwest Designer Craftsmen. At the time, the craft traditions of New England and the South dominated American craft work. Craftspeople in the Pacific Northwest reacted against these stylistic constraints in favor of innovative forms, techniques, and practices, influenced particularly by Asian and Scandinavian traditions.
Over its history, Northwest Designer Craftsmen has fostered high standards of design and craftsmanship and actively promoted the output of this forward-thinking community to a broad audience. The Henry presented major exhibitions of the group between 1954 and 1975 and collected important works by NDC members through purchase awards made in conjunction with the exhibitions. The collection includes objects by founding figures Henry Huan Lin, Hella Skowronski, and Robert Sperry.
Today, the group has over one hundred and fifty members from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana, who create basketry, beadwork, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, sculpture, and fine woodwork.
Eric Norstad (U.S., b. 1924)
Wheel-thrown stoneware with iron oxide and matt glazes; Sgraffitto
14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm) height
Henry Art Gallery, Northwest Craftsmen's Exhibition Purchase Award, 1955, with funds from the Clay Club, 55.34
Robert Sperry (U.S., 1927–1998)
Spirit of '76 1975
Slab and hand-built earthenware with underglaze, glaze, and lusters
11 3/4 x 8 7/8 x 12 3/4 in. (29.9 x 22.6 x 32.4 cm) overall
Henry Art Gallery, purchased with funds from Evelyn Howie, PONCHO and the National Endowment for the Arts, 77.40
Kenneth R. Ferguson (U.S., 1928–2004)
Covered Jar 1964
Wheel-thrown stoneware with iron glaze and unglazed areas
13 3/8 x 10 3/4 in. (34 x 27.3 cm) overall
Henry Art Gallery, Northwest Craftsmen's Exhibition Purchase Award with funds from the Seattle Clay Club, 64.20 A–B