Dear Furniture Society Supporter!
If you have ever been to a Furniture Society conference, I don’t need to tell you how valuable, inspiring, and just plain fun it is to be part of our dynamic community.
That community simply did not exist on any scale before The Furniture Society was founded – certainly not for a furniture maker like me, trying to make a living in Alabama! I still remember what a thrill it was to listen to, meet, and party with so many makers I had previously known only by reputation. And I confess to even being a little star-struck by some of them! Being part of a vibrant community like that is reason enough to support the organization at this time of year with a donation to the Annual Fund.
I have been a part of The Furniture Society since the beginnings: Twenty-two years ago, I was one of a dozen people gathered around a conference table in Philadelphia imagining a new organization that would bring together the many diverse facets of the furniture universe. At that time, most craft organizations were predominantly defined by a material, however, we envisioned our organization would be among the first to focus on a class of objects, namely furniture. We worked to welcome those working not just in wood, but metal, glass, fiber, plastic, concrete, and any other material that could possibly be used. In fact, in the early days you would get busted for saying “wood” when you meant “furniture!” We pictured an organization that could be a forum and congregation point for all aesthetic viewpoints, from historical to avant-garde. Moreover, while we at that table were almost all makers, we realized that it was critical to involve the entire field – gallerists, historians, writers, collectors, teachers – and the makers, from professional to enthusiast.
However, I really want to talk about a benefit that is difficult to quantify but nonetheless extremely important to everyone who is part of this field. It is expressed in the last 11 of the 24 words in The Furniture Society’s mission statement: “fostering an understanding of this art and its place in society.” The Furniture Society is our collective voice, speaking not only to those of us in the furniture field, but also to the world outside.
The credibility of our collective voice was made evident to me this year when I received the Society’s Award of Distinction. The award was personally meaningful because of the support of so many respected colleagues, but it was also lent significance by the reputations of previous recipients. While the award clearly comes from inside the furniture field, it also helps create an image of the furniture field by celebrating the careers and accomplishments of those in the field. Read through the list of past studio furniture honorees like Judy McKie, Sam Maloof, Wendy Maruyama, Wendell Castle, Jere Osgood…and the colorful panorama of the breadth of the furniture field comes into focus.
The Furniture Society has taken our message forward in many ways over the past two decades with various programmatic efforts. The high cost of shipping furniture to exhibitions has long been a barrier to both makers and organizations. This year, with the help of a grant from the John and Robyn Horn Foundation, The Furniture Society is piloting EFASO, a new program to help defray shipping costs for a number of furniture makers and organizations. Programs like these benefit all of us by putting furniture making on the radar, creating an image and speaking with a collective voice. How vivid that image is and how well our collective voice resonates, largely depends on our investment in The Furniture Society and I am therefore asking for your generous support of their efforts at this time.
I am happy to report that our organization continues to thrive and is moving forward with renewed commitment and vitality. We have an energetic, committed board, and a small but dynamic (and growing) staff. This year, the Windgate Foundation has expressed renewed confidence in the organization with a $125,000 grant over the next two years to enhance our educational programming and outreach efforts. This has enabled us to hire important support staff, which for the first time includes an Education Director who will also oversee planning for our conferences, including the upcoming conference in Milwaukee, WI, June 19-22, 2019, where we hope to see many of you.
Please join me today by investing in our collective voice, our community, and the future of our field through a generous contribution to The Furniture Society. Please support the organization that supports all of us and remains a unique voice in our field! Your donation is absolutely vital.
Thank you and best wishes,