MAAP Exhibition at the Commission Gallery, September 25 – November 13

From Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Media, Craft and Design — 

MAAPshow2016In its sixth year, the Master Artist Apprentice Program (MAAP) is a cooperative partnership of the Tennessee Arts Commission and Tennessee Craft. The mission of this collaboration is to encourage and invest in the continuation, advancement and creation of Tennessee craft by recognizing the role of the master craft artist and apprentice relationship as a way to preserve the state’s cultural heritage. This partnership provides Tennessee craft artists with relevant and alternative educational experiences, promotes and facilitates fine craft as a viable career path for Tennessee artists, fosters deliberate mentoring, facilitates professional development of emerging Tennessee craft artists, increases the pool of Tennessee craft artists, and provides Tennessee craft artists with alternative means of professional funding.

Tennessee craft masters Chery Cratty, Scott DeWaard and Claudia Lee shared their significant skills and creative aptitude by combining 580 hours of one-on-one mentoring instruction with apprentice artists to encourage, strengthen and grow their artistic foundation. The MAAP cultivates the traditional master/apprentice relationship by rewarding selected artists with a grant to ensure craft art is nurtured and not lost in Tennessee.

This year, the following partners worked together to sustain craft for the next generation:

Pulp Painting:
Master Chery Cratty (Smithville)

“Pulp is wet and gooey—and I get to paint with it!

You know what it’s like:  You wake up and all you can think about is how you’re going to flip that pulp to create a picture of a tree. Or…maybe you don’t.

But this is what drives me, a persistent obstinacy to get up and get flipping.

Pulp paint is an almost lost water-based medium. Plant fibers are cooked, colored and used as paint. Using this pigmented pulp, and a South African porcupine quill instead of a brush, I bring realistic images to life in an impressionistic style. Only a handful of artists worldwide use pulp as paint. I spent ten years exploring, discovering and streamlining a pulp painting process that meets all the standards I set for myself and my art.

Even after another ten years of further mastering that process, this journey continues to thrill me every day. In crafting my own environmentally friendly paints and tools, I deepen my connection with nature, which, in turn, constantly inspires me. My intent and desire is to produce images of nature that connect with you and create a peaceful place that you can return to again and again.”

Cratty has taught pulp painting at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC; the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville; Red Bow Studio, Smithville; and at the Bacsom Center, Highlands, NC. She has exhibited throughout Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as Georgia and in the District of Columbia. Click here to find out more about Chery Cratty. 

Apprentice Traci Paden (Chattanooga)

“I am an accomplished silk painter with a thriving art career. Yet, I was lacking something creatively. I needed a challenge and found it in the pursuit of pulp painting. I am intrigued with every aspect of this media. It is entirely different from anything that I have ever worked with. I love it! I love the color, the texture and the organic nature of it. I love that it takes patience and determination to achieve results.

Nature, particularly water, is one of my great loves in life. I am an avid hiker, swimmer and kayaker. I am inspired by the many colors and emotions that occur when I am surrounded by nature. Music, particularly blues and jazz, is another thought line in my life. My artwork has always divided and encompassed these two major influences. As I approached pulp painting, I explored both of these passions.

I have found new life in my creative spirit through my journey into pulp painting.  It is my intention to continue on this path for years to come. Although I plan to continue my career as a silk painter, pulp painting will share the studio and someday, maybe the spotlight.”

Paden received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Auburn University and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has participated in regional and national juried art fairs and exhibitions, including: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – Contemporary Crafts, New Orleans; Four Bridges Art Festival, Chattanooga; Tennessee Craft Fair, Nashville; Memphis River Arts Festival, Memphis; and the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, Pensacola, FL. Click here to learn more about Traci Paden. 

Wood Furniture:
Master Scott DeWaard (Walland)

“As one opportunity leads to the next, building hand-crafted custom furniture, I have come to believe in proven technique, honesty in materials and beauty.  I strive to build furniture that is good enough and beautiful enough that it will retain value for generations.

This piece I made in connection with the MAAP grant is an extension of my interest in the housing and displaying of a family’s story.  I see the cabinet collecting objects and images that when the doors open for display it acts as a catalyst in encouraging the oral history of the family.

However what is really on display is the MAAP program and the model of apprenticeship.  Limited in time as it was, I feel this is a successful way to foster significant growth in craft.  Stephen was in no way a beginner, running his own shop for several years now.  This allowed our time together to be spent on the aspects of our craft beyond the technical cutting and shaping of our chosen material.  Every decision that needed to be made, from design to execution to finish, was questioned and discussed for other options, other ways, and especially if it fit into the original concept and intent of the piece.  Working two pieces side by side made each of these discussions doubled.  I thought it was great fun.”

DeWaard has exhibited in California, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. His work is in the collections of: All Saints Catholic Church, Knoxville; The Park Grill, Gatlinburg; Mercy Health Partners, Knoxville; Saint Anne Orthodox Church, Oak Ridge; Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville; Knoxville Catholic Chancellery, Knoxville; Saint Albert the Great Catholic Church, Knoxville; and in private residences throughout Tennessee. He has instructed at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, and presented at the Greenville Woodworkers Guild, Greenville, NC. Click here to find out more about Scott DeWaard. 

Apprentice Stephen Shankles (Maryville)

“As a young woodworker pursuing the craft in my own shop, I often have trouble finding ways to push my abilities.  This program allowed me to work alongside a master and see how he solves problems that arise.  A big part of this project involved refining the design of this piece.  Design is one of the hardest things to teach, but working alongside someone who is comfortable with the process helps a great deal.

This piece began with a desire to create something with a strong feminine feel.  This influenced all parts of the design and build, from the gentle curves to the refined joinery and wood choice.  I hope to further these themes in my future work, continuing to make thoughtful choices about all the details that make a fine piece of furniture.”

Shankles graduated from Maryville College with a bachelor’s degree in business organization & management and a minor in accounting. He was a woodworker (2008-2012) for W.B. Richardson in Townsend, TN and has since become a self-employed woodworker residing in Maryville, TN. In 2013 his work was juried into the Master Woodworkers Show in Knoxville, TN where he received the People’s Choice Award. Most recently, Shankles worked as an assistant teacher or woodworking at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Click here to learn more about Stephen Shankles. 

Master Claudia Lee (Liberty)

“When you make paper every day for more than 20 years it’s impossible not to get caught up in the magic of the process. It begins with a humble plant growing in the field, cooking it to remove non-cellulosic materials, beating it into pulp and adding it to a vat of water—the feel of plant fibers as you stir the vat with your hands and then, with each dip of the mould and deckle, the sheet of paper miraculously forms before your eyes.  A critical eye examines each wet sheet, and, if it is not perfect it goes back into the vat to be reformed into a new sheet. The perfect sheet is couched onto a support fabric called a felt and another sheet is formed.  The stack of wet papers are pressed and dried.  Opening the drier is like opening a huge gift.  The wet sheets have been transformed into papers with lovely surfaces, edges and colors.  It is another magic moment.

I recently became interested in casting over industrial forms, mainly rusty metal that would transfer the rust to the finished papers.  I use a chemical mix that I spray on the metal to keep it rusty and love the serendipitous results. Some of these papers are deeply cast and some are low-relief.  I form them into box shapes to make my light sculptures.  When the pieces are finished and wired, the light gives the papers an inner glow and brings a new dimension to what would have been a simple sculptural piece.  This is an area I plan to keep exploring.”

Two time recipient of the Master Artist-Apprentice Program and creator of the 2011 Tennessee Governor’s Arts Award, Lee has taught paper arts at: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg; Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC; Appalachian Center for Craft, Smithville; John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC; Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro; University of the South, Sewanee; Liberty Paper, Liberty; and Johnson City Area Arts Council, Johnson City. Her work has been exhibited at: Flying Solo: Arts at the Airport, Inside and Outside the Box, Nashville International Airport; Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University, Nashville; the 5th International Book & Paper Triennial, Chicago Center for Paper and Books, Chicago; and many other venues. Lee’s work can be found in the Tennessee Arts Commission Collection, Nashville Public Library, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, James Walker Library, Special Collections at Middle Tennessee State University and in the Southern Highlands Craft Guild Private Collection. Click here to find out more about Claudia Lee.

Apprentice Gail Looper (Smithville)

“This body of work can best be summed up by the word:  Transformation.  Previous to being one of the MAAP recipients­­, my artwork focused primarily on the techniques of marbling on fabric and paper with a few surface design techniques used on paper.  Two years ago I began writing stories and building mixed media art pieces based on the stories. The materials used in the construction of these pieces were commercial decorative papers, wood boxes and frames.  As a new author I could not even fathom the idea of omitting one word from a story.  Each piece was a shrine to the story, and I was compelled to give the viewer every word verbatim.

While mentoring with Claudia Lee, I began to take a more subtle approach to incorporating stories into artwork.  Stories are now the inspiration for each piece of art with the focus on the art and not the verbatim words.  This current body of work gives the viewer the responsibility to bring their own stories and experiences to the work. In addition to artwork inspired by original stories, there are two clamshell boxes each containing samples of paper made during the apprenticeship.  One box contains handmade papers and the other decorative papers.

The boxes are an integrated part of the entire composition and each one relates to the objects they contain. These pieces incorporate all the techniques learned and are the culmination of the MAAP apprenticeship experience.”

Looper received a BFA with a concentration in textiles from Tennessee Technological University and often serves as an instructor, demonstrator and lecturer at various centers of education. For 25 years Looper has shown nationally and throughout Tennessee at exhibits such as: the Handmade and Bound Annual Exhibition, Watkins College of Art, Nashville; Two Paper Perspectives, Sarratt Center at Vanderbilt University, Nashville; Beyond Boundaries: Beadwork, Berea, KY; Individual Perspectives, North Redwoods Book Arts Conference, Arcata, CA; and The Magical Properties of Beads, Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ. Looper has exhibited for many years in the Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour Exhibition that travels to different Tennessee venues each year. Click here to learn more about Gail Looper.

Click here to view sample of gallery images online. 

The Master Artist Apprentice Program is funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission and administered in cooperation with Tennessee Craft.

The Tennessee Arts Commission gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. For questions regarding the exhibition or to schedule a guided tour, contact Krishna Adams at or 615-532-9798. For accessibility requests, contact Kim Johnson at or 615-532-9797.