Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts announced today that Sarah Watlington is the 2023 recipient of the John D. Mineck Fellowship, a high-profile award with an unrestricted $25,000 prize awarded annually to an early-career furniture artist.
Sarah Watlington is a woodworker, artist and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a graduate of the Krenov School of Fine Woodworking, in Ft Bragg, CA, and holds a BA from the Design Institute of San Diego. She designs and builds custom furniture at Offerman Woodshop, Los Angeles. As the project manager she uses the opportunity to lead a small team of apprentices through their woodworking education. Sarah teaches woodworking courses locally and across the country.
“In the last five years I have honed my technical skills, led a team of apprentices to proficiency, and expanded my furniture portfolio by dozens of major pieces. What I often missed in this period of commission work–– so often dependent on customer taste –– was concept, originality and risk-taking.
Being awarded the Mineck Fellowship will enable Watlington to shift her focus to her personal work and teaching practice.
“The Mineck funding will provide me with critical tools, materials, education, and space to create a new and exciting body of work. This initial intensive year of studio work will culminate in the two-month-long ITE Windgate Residency in Philadelphia next summer, where I will present the new work in the final show at the Center for Art in Wood.”
Watlington’s work with sound sculptures will kick off her activities and certainly a year of creative growth along with fresh development in her teaching practice.
“In the long term, this new work with record players and sound sculptures will foster more interesting curriculum ideas than my commissioned work could provide me, broadening where I can teach, whether that be larger craft schools or community spaces with less developed wood shops. The blending of woodworking and music in my curriculums will attract a more vibrant and diverse pool of students to our field.”
The John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship is one of the largest such prizes in the craft field and one of the grants supported by the Boston-based John D. Mineck Foundation, which honors interests Mineck pursued throughout his life. The Fellowship focuses on rising furniture makers whose work is contemporary and functional and supports young artists with financial assistance to develop their skills and move them toward independence. The Society of Arts + Crafts, where Mineck once served as Board president, has administered the fellowship since it began in 2007.
Sarah has a community of woodworkers and the entire craft community behind her, cheering her on in this next chapter. Congratulations, Sarah!