Behind the Mineck Award: Jamie Herman Reflects on His Grant Year

Behind the Mineck Award: Jamie Herman Reflects on His Grant Year

Posted on Feb. 06, 2023
“I’ve been allowed to be independent as a craftsperson, and to pursue opportunities without being worried about where my materials budget is coming from. Experiences like this are incredibly rare, and having this kind of time to explore has changed me as a maker, expanding my practice in ways I never would have predicted.” – Jamie Herman

You may be aware that the Society of Arts and Crafts has the distinct privilege of awarding the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship – something we love to boast about.

The Fellowship is one of a kind. It is a $25,000, transformative annual award for an ambitious, young-in-career furniture artist so that they may expand their craft.

In 2021, that award was given to Jamie Herman, a furniture maker from Kentucky. His style is markedly contemporary and imaginative, with many pieces featuring gravity-defying angles and unexpected silhouettes.

“Jamie’s building process, his deep commitment to craft, and his desire to assist young makers exemplifies the heart and soul of the Mineck Fellowship,” said Brigitte Martin, Executive Director of the Society of Arts + Crafts. “The jury who chose him as the winner liked Jamie’s plan that includes other talented woodworkers and provides a tangible way to support them.”

And support them he did. Beginning the year at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, Herman learned to steam-bend wood from the master, Yuri Kobayashi. He focused his area of study on large-scale works, which are typically difficult to work on without support.

He then moved to the Peters Valley School of Craft to run the summer workshop season. Says Herman, “I found a community of craftspeople there that has completely changed my views on craft, on my priorities as an artist, and on how I want to contribute to my field. My position allowed me to teach, to mentor younger makers, to empower people who didn’t feel they belonged in a woodshop, and to create a welcoming and non-toxic shop culture for everyone who came through.”

Staying on at Peters Valley as a resident artist in the autumn, he used the Mineck funds to continue to experiment with the use of veneer in lighting.

In the fall of 2022, he took a position working at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. He expressed his amazement and satisfaction at being able to work in a workshop every day and continue to create the art that excites him and connects him to his field of crafters.

Herman hasn’t completed the used of the funds. His intention is to use the grant money sensibly, thinking carefully about what will serve him and his community for years to come, and has not yet found the opportunity that will suit his goal. He would like to support young makers, particularly those historically excluded from workshops. He has not been able to complete the project because he wants “to not rush into any big purchases, but to consider long-term goals and try to make this money go as far as possible.”

We look forward to hearing his final choices. In the meantime, we applaud Herman on developing his skills, his awareness, and his desire to give back to the craft field. We are so proud to be the awardees of this transformative fellowship, and to see it create lasting change in craft communities across the nation each year. Thank you for sharing with us, Jamie!