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An interview of Betty Woodman conducted 2003 April 22 and 29, by John Perreault, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in New York, New York.
Woodman speaks of frequent moves with her family during her childhood; her father's woodworking skills; gaining an interest in arts and crafts at four when she made a tablecloth with crayon drawings; attending summer camps, including Girl Scout Camp, where she participated in arts and crafts activities; being the first girl to take shop in her middle school; making model airplanes for air raid wardens during World War II; her interest in making functional objects; her introduction to clay and hand-building in high school; attending the School for American Craftsmen in New York City; collaborating with fellow students; her early desire to be a "craftsperson and not an artist"; her work with silk-screen fabric for The Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia and glass at CIRVA in Marseille, France; teaching at the University of Colorado and the City of Boulder Recreation Department; working at the European Ceramic Work Center in Den Bosch, Holland, and the Bellagio Study Center in Italy; her studios in New York, Colorado, and Italy; her travels to India, The Netherlands, and Mexico; living in New Mexico, New York, Colorado, and Italy; her business Roadrunner Pottery in New Mexico with partner Elenita Brown; collaborative projects with Joyce Kozloff, Cynthia Carlson, Bud Shark, Judith Solodkin, and her husband George Woodman; developing a following in New York; how being a woman has affected her work and how she enjoys working with other women artists; the change of market for American crafts; Italian, Greek, and Etruscan influences; teaching experiences; the importance of getting reviews in art magazines; and the strong support from her husband George, a painter. Betty Woodman recalls Lynn Feelyn, Olan Wassen, Bernard Leach, Peter Voulkos, Shoji Hamada, Bob Kushner, Richard Serra, Wayne Higby, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Betty Woodman (1930-2018) was a ceramist from New York, New York. John Perreault (1937- ) is an independent critic and curator from New York, New York.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 55 min.
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.
Permission to reproduce and publish an item from the Archives is coordinated through the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's Rights and Reproductions department. Please contact the Archives in order to initiate this process.
Robert and Louise Koke Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of BASAbali.
Armstrong Manual Training School, built in 1902, was authorized by congress as a vocational high school for African American youth in Washington, DC. The school was named for Samuel C. Armstrong (1839-1893), a white commander of an African American Civil War regiment and founder of Hampton Institute, now University. Designed by local architect Waddy B. Wood, the Renaissance Revival building provided carpentry, machine, foundry, and blacksmith workshops. In addition, the school taught chemistry and physics. Dr. Wilson Bruce Evans, the father of performing artist Lillian Evans Tibbs, served as founding principal. Duke Ellington, William "Billy"Eckstein, and John Malachi are among a host of Armstrong graduates who became prominent in their profession. In 1996 the school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the District of Columbia.
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Evans-Tibbs collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of the Estate of Thurlow E. Tibbs, Jr.