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Shaw-Sutton Receives 2009 American Craft Council Award, Inducted into Fellowship

Published: January 15, 2010

Carol Shaw-Sutton, a professor in the College of the Arts at CSULB, has been named a recipient of the American Craft Council’s 2009 Aileen Osborn Webb Award and named to the 2009 American Craft Council of Fellows.

Shaw-Sutton was one of seven individuals inducted into the College of Fellows. Since 1974, the council has bestowed the title of “Fellow” on 264 artists, who were nominated and elected by a committee of their peers. Established in the mid-1970s, the Award of Distinction for Contributions to the Field of Craft and the fellowship honor those who have demonstrated outstanding artistic achievement for 25 years or more, leadership and service in the fine craft field.

Shaw-Sutton, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts degrees from San Diego State, has taught at CSULB since 1984. She has been faculty chair of the university’s fiber program since 1990. In 2002, she was named COTA’s outstanding professor.

“As a young art student, I looked to American Craft magazine and the American Craft Council as both a mentor and a source of community for the then emerging arena of fiber art in which I felt a great kinship and interest,” said Shaw-Sutton. “When I received the Young American Award in 1977 in my 20s, it literally changed my life and gave me the confidence to follow the often lonely path of following my vision.”

Shaw-Sutton has been exhibiting her fiber work in the United States and internationally since the 1970’s and is included in major museum, corporate and private collections worldwide. In the 1980s, she was featured at three Lausanne Biennials and an international textile exhibition in Kyoto, Japan, where her large suspended work, “Our Bones Are Made of Stardust,” won the Fine Arts Award.

She gained national recognition with her 1977 American Craft Council Young Americans award. These awards were given every 10 years and only two young artists working in fiber were chosen. In addition to her many honors, Shaw-Sutton has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as the United States/Japan Foundation Fellowship and the United States/France La Napoule Foundation Fellowship.

The Award of Distinction for Contributions to the Field of Craft designates an individual, organization, institution or corporation that has rendered significant service to the field over a quarter century and the Award for Philanthropy recognizes exceptional efforts in support of the American Craft Council over the same time period.

According to the Webb award announcement in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of American Craft magazine, Shaw-Sutton’s work often “consists of personal narrative objects and installations utilizing both ancient and high-tech textile techniques that require a labor-intensive commitment with the goal of simultaneously valuing and transcending the notion of time. They deal in a visually poetic language, with deep human concern for harmony and release through our bodies into nature and the mysterious beyond.”

Carol Shaw-Sutton
Carol Shaw-Sutton

Shaw-Sutton’s early sculptural work were large-scale installations referencing passages and journeys through the use of constructed twig forms of boats, rivers and vortex forms. Her more recent installations and wall works deal more directly with the human body and issues of loss and empathy in knitted linen or digitally silk. This past summer, she began working again on small scale forms that reference growth/time and reflects on the human experience of loss and healing.

The American Craft Council is a national, nonprofit educational organization founded in 1943 by Webb, whose mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of contemporary American craft. Along with American Craft magazine and the Webb awards, the council’s programs also includes annual juried shows presenting artists and their work, a specialized library, workshops and seminars.

“To be honored by my peers from other universities and other venerable artists has struck me quite profoundly. One often feels as if one is toiling in obscurity, as well as being out of the main stream by teaching full-time,” said Sutton. “This award makes me, once again, feel the connection to the group of people who share my lifelong values and connections to the culture of making objects of meaning.”

–Paul Browning