Oral history interview with Merryll Saylan, 2006 May 20-June 5
Saylan, Merryll B., 1936-
Adamson, Glenn, 1972-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
7 compact discs (6 hr., 9 min.) : digital ; 2 5/8 in.
Originally recorded on 7 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 9 min.
An interview of Merryll Saylan conducted 2006 May 20-June 5, by Glenn Adamson, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, England.
Saylan speaks of her childhood in Los Angeles, California; her early musical education in piano and viola; memories of World War II; her family's political views during the Cold War; meeting her first husband at UCLA; dropping out of school to move to Virginia and Georgia in fulfillment of her husband's military service; experiencing anti-Semitism in Georgia; the challenges of her eldest son's speech problems; traveling to France, Japan, Guatemala, Hong Kong and the Philippines; her interest in Japanese culture; completing her B.A. in design at UCLA and her M.A. in studio art at California State University, Northridge; anti-Vietnam sentiment on campus; early interests in environmental design; her second husband and his friends; her interest in furniture and woodworking; differing approaches to woodworking on the east and west coasts; her views on feminism and working women; her use of color and texture in woodworking; teaching experiences; popular perception of her work; receiving a grant to go to England and her involvement with English and German woodturners; the lack of collector interest in her work; forced absences from working because of illnesses; serving on the boards of the American Association of Woodturners and The Woodturning Center; her involvement in the International Turned Objects Show, the Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Biannual Exposition, and the International Turning Exchange; her thoughts on future work. Saylan also recalls George Foy, Bob Stocksdale, Michael Cooper, Pamela Weir-Quiton, Joanne Rapp, J.B. Blunk, Marvin Lipofsky, Gail Fredell, Wendy Maruyama, Ralph Evans, Del Stubbs, Jerry Glaser, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Merryll Saylan, 2006 May 20-June 5. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Merryll Saylan (1936- ) is a wood artist from San Rafael, California. Glenn Adamson (1972- ) is a museum professional, in London, England.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001