From modest beginnings to celebrating 30 years of craft heritage, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is living proof that making something out of nothing – and making it last – is a craft in itself.
It all started in 1980, when former Miss America and then First Lady of Kentucky Phyllis George Brown first caught a glimpse of Kentucky’s unique craft heritage.
“It was the handmade quilts, the honest and real, made-in-America crafts that she just fell in love with,” said fellow founding member Lois Mateus.
One year later, KMAC – formerly known as the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation – was established with a simple mission crafted by founding members Brown, Rev. Al Shands III, Mary Norton Shands, Lois Mateus and David Mahoney. The sole goal: to promote and support art and craft excellence in Kentucky.
“When we started out we wanted a way to bring awareness to this rich craft and to create new markets for these talented artists residing in Kentucky,” Mateus said.
“We were participating in the St. James Art Fair and local events, but we needed to take it beyond just a Kentucky recognized trade,” said Mateus.
`Through Brown’s media connections with the Miss America organization, and the volunteer efforts of local boosters, soon Kentucky craft was hitting the radars of Bloomingdales and even Neiman Marcus.
Through building this awareness they were also able to open opportunities for local artists to showcase their craft and ultimately have a physical presence in Kentucky by opening a retail gallery in 1984., Over the years, the gallery has been host to over 175 exhibitions and resides at the center of Museum Row and stands tall in a district of art appreciation.
Since then, KMAC has grown as a thriving part of this community and a vital part of Kentucky’s cultural and historical foundation representing over 600 Kentucky and regional craft artists. Its efforts in harvesting Kentucky’s heritage has gained community respect and involvement.
Not only has the organization been on the forefront of preserving the history of the commonwealth but also the advancement.
In 1991, KMAC launched a program teaching students how art could be a catalyst for other educational movements. By 2010 their efforts had reached 78 schools, libraries and community centers and over 25,000 children in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
This year, they celebrate 30 years of hard work, in-depth heritage appreciation and a crafty outlook on the promotion of art as fundamentals.
They will mark this milestone with a special event on Thursday, March 3, which will include a panel discussion with founding members of the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation.
Category: Cover Stories
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.