The major catalyst for research, scholarship, and leadership development in American craft, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (Asheville, NC) provided initial financial support in 2008 to Barry Gordon, Phil Jurus, and Norm Sartorius to research Emil Milan’s life, work, and influence. They produced a comprehensive Research Report in 2011 amassing hundreds of documents, photographs, and interviews pertaining to Milan. That Report has been a catalyst itself leading to a blossoming of scholarship on Milan including an article in Woodwork magazine; an article on the American Craft Council website; a solo exhibit at the Henry Gallery in Malvern, PA; an expanded exhibit at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia; a symposium on Milan at the studios of WHYY; an article in American Art Collector; a Wikipedia page; and now to the forthcoming book Emil Milan: Midcentury Master. It is no exaggeration to say that the grant provided by CCCD was critical in advancing scholarship on Emil Milan, and in building awareness, understanding, and appreciation of his role and importance in the midcentury modern design and the studio craft movement in America.
EXCERPT FROM EMIL MILAN: MIDCENTURY MASTER:
Emil Milan faded into obscurity in the decades following his death. By 2000, few woodworkers recognized his name, knew of his work, or appreciated the role he played in the development of art in wood. He was remembered primarily by his immediate friends and family. In February 2007, a biographical research project led by Norm Sartorius, Phil Jurus, and Barry Gordon began to rekindle interest in Emil’s life and work. It started when Norm’s wife Diane noticed that a small bowl Norm carved for his mother resembled Emil’s salt bowl. That piqued Norm’s interest and he called Phil Jurus, who had studied with Emil earlier in his career. Norm had never met Emil, but at the start of his career had studied with Phil. The two, along with spoon carver Barry Gordon, who had met Emil, decided to collaborate on learning about Emil and increasing awareness and appreciation of his life and work. With a grant from the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design they produced an article in Woodwork magazine in 2010 followed by an extensive archival report documenting Emil’s life and work. This, in turn, has led to increased media attention, two major exhibits, and an academic symposium.
EXCERPT FROM the footnotes of EMIL MILAN: MIDCENTURY MASTER:
A research report containing extensive archival material was prepared in 2011 and is available at the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design (Asheville, NC) and other repositories including the American Craft Council Library (Minneapolis), Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery of the Museum of American Art (DC), the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), the Museum for Art and Design (New York), The Center for Art in Wood (Philadelphia), Peters Valley Craft Center (New Jersey), the Susquehanna County Historical Society (PA), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.