September 2017

This month will bring the 39th Fall Tennessee Craft Fair, an annual weekend of handmade art, one-of-a-kind wares, and on-site artists at Centennial Park.

Woodworker Doug Lawrence; Courtesy Tennessee Craft

While always a draw for Nashvillians seeking out unique crafts and award-winning artists displaying their work, the fair is also a haven for developing creators who are seeking a foothold in the city’s art scene. The event will feature an Emerging Makers Tent to showcase the work of those who are beginning their craft career, working in a new medium, or exhibiting at the fair for the first time.

“Part of Tennessee Craft’s mission is to encourage, develop, and promote crafts and craftspeople in Tennessee,” said Jessica Jain, the membership manager for Tennessee Craft. “We responded to feedback that many artists were interested in exhibiting at the fair, but were unsure if they were experienced enough to be successful. The Emerging Makers Tent offers such artists a more affordable way to sell their artwork at our fairs and gain the confidence and practical skills to be successful.”

The tent provides an exhibition space to those new crafters who may not otherwise have a place to display their work and it gives attendees the chance to connect with artists in a more intimate way, as they interact with one another.

“In the Emerging Makers Tent, fair attendees are not only able to meet the artists like they do on the main tent circle, but they are also able to see the camaraderie between the artists, no matter their craft medium or chapter affiliation,” Jain explains.

Textile artist Jessica Hagar; Courtesy Tennessee Craft

As another effort to boost the careers and confidence of emerging makers, Tennessee Craft hands out a variety of awards, determined by a guest juror. Artists take home awards for Best Emerging Maker, Best Display, Best Fresh Idea, and Best Collaboration.

“I look back on my experience in the Emerging Maker’s Tent as a giant step forward in my career,” says Trey Geary, who won the Best Fresh Idea Award last year. “Tennessee Craft has connected me with a wide range of customers who would not have otherwise seen my work. They have also connected me with artists who inspire and encourage me.”

With an opportunity to see attendees and their reactions up close, emerging artists have a vital opportunity to hone their crafts and focus on the things that might best serve their careers.

Jeweler Trey Geary; Photography by Sally Bebawy

“I saw that a newly designed line of small bud vases was selling quickly during the fair, with several fair-goers buying three or four at a time,” recalls Colleen Williams, who won the Best Emerging Maker Award last year and will exhibit again this month. “Refinement and continued development of those pieces have been awarded a Judge’s Choice Award, a First Place Award, a Best in Ceramics Award, and even a Best in Show at various art fairs in 2017.”

The Fall Tennessee Craft Fair will be held on September 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on September 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Centennial Park, 2500 West End Avenue. For more information, please visit www.tennesseecraft.org.

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